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Dernière modification : 28 mai 2018


Université de Sheffield (Royaume-Uni)
Invité de THALIM – printemps 2019

Durant le printemps 2019, le labex TransferS et Valérie Pozner (THALIM) accueillent le professeur Evgeny DOBRENKO, du département d’études russes et slaves de l’Université de Sheffield.


Soviet/Post-Soviet Palimpsest : Socialist Realism, Totalitarian Kitsch, Russian Postmodernism
Aesthetic Dimensions of Cultural Transfer

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has been assumed that one culture is replacing another. However, as the passing of a quarter of a century has shown, with the destruction of a homogeneous Soviet culture, we are witnessing not a familiar change in Russia today, but the transference in the process of translation of one culture to another.

The specificity of this transition in modern Russia consists of (1) the fact that post-Soviet culture aesthetically belongs to the postmodern era, but mentally and socially to the former Soviet era, and their fusion represents a major characteristic of modern Russian culture, and (2) there has been a generational gap between those who create culture and dominates within it (cultural and political elites), and those who most actively consume it (the generations of the 1980s and the following). The first belong to the Soviet era, the latter did not live through it. Modern Russian culture, therefore, is similar to the palimpsest : it is a postmodern reworking and the recycling of the Soviet language and Soviet mental clichés. The older generation owns the primary (Soviet) language, but has a poor command of the secondary (post-modern) language. The new generation does not know the primary (Soviet) language. As a result, we are dealing with a crisis of consumption of modern culture in Russia. This is precisely the transfer crisis associated with a rupture of generational and social ties, when one generation transfers onto another its language and mental clichés (ranging from stylistic preferences to political culture) and a new generation, which is lacking this cultural and historical experience, is not able to absorb it.

This is also an intercultural transfer, since the postmodern paradigm is perceived in Russia as “Western”, brought from outside. Therefore, the older generation is very reluctant to accept it and has been stubbornly « stuck » in a bygone culture. It is also a crisis of relations between the social strata, as well as the centre and periphery : those sectors of society (inhabitants of megacities) that are more open to the cosmopolitan culture of the West are more likely to overcome this crisis than those that are less advanced and less culturally open (people from the lower strata of society, inhabitants of the periphery).

And the last but not least important aspect is the non-Russian cultural spaces of the former Soviet republics that face a crisis of the older generation losing its Soviet traditions and simultaneously replacing them with national(istic) and religious attitudes that it transfers and often imposes on the younger generation.

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