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Abstracts Session 1

Heritage and Identity Politics


Swietlana Czerwonnaja, Prof. Dr. hab., ord. Prof.

Nicolaus Copernicus University



The Interpretation of Cultural Heritage (Finno-Ugric mythology) in individual creative concepts of contemporary artists –ethnofuturism representatives

The rich mythology forms the basis of cultural heritage of the Finno-Ugric Peoples of the Russian North. It finds expression in the oral folk art, in the epic (intangible cultural heritage) and in the iconography of the monuments of archaeological cultures of the Bronze and Early Iron Age (tangible cultural heritage). In this mythology, distinctive by the variety of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic motifs, a complex hierarchy of spirits and deities that govern the relation between good and evil, friendly and hostile elements in nature and in human life, the philosophical “world view” formed in the religious outlook of the people of Finno-Ugric world finds its reflection.

From the outset, this professional art was actively shaping its thematic thesaurus. The Finnish, Karelian, and Estonian art were rising and finding its national identity in the 19-20 centuries on the runes of «Kalevala» and «Kalevipoeg». Fairy tales and legends of the Finno-Ugric people from the European North, the Volga region, and Trans-Urals were fueling the fantasy of artists connected their destiny with their work. Significant achievements in the solution of that art issue, which was defined by the educational goals became illustrations of the Udmurt legends and fairy tales of Mensadyk Garipov, paintings and drawings based on fairy tales of Zosim Lavrentyev, and the images of “Kalevala” in the drawing of Myud Mechev and Tamar Yuf.

At the turn of 20-21 centuries cultural change from past to future took place in the Finno-Ugric culture: an entirely new phenomenon, which was dubbed «ethno-futurism», –  «ethnic art of the future» forms. It develops in the spiritual and stylistic paradigm of postmodernism and is based on ethnic traditions, the oral and graphic folklore (folk primitive), the mythical arsenal of Finno-Ugric cultures. It is in this direction reveals the maximum scope for subjective interpretation of heritage, identification of creative personalities of contemporary artists.

Ethnofuturism not only continues an already existing in the national classic tradition (the continuation can only be considered unexhausted interest to the Finno-Ugric mythology), but also essentially transforms it, offering the model of subjective philosophic-poetic interpretation of the myth instead an illustrative one. The story outline of folklore sources amenable to the “gap” in time and space, and the various myths of ethnic and cultural are mixed in a kaleidoscope. The human environment and the very creative thinking of the artist are mythologized. The artist feels himself not as an illustrator of the old, but as a creator of new myths, which can be connected with the national romantism, with the legends of ancient times, or, alternatively, contrast to the real or invented past as a mythical phantom that has the prospect of spiritual incarnations, metamorphosis, breakthroughs into the unknown and incomprehensible, divine spheres.

The internal rhythm of this art that is still largely consistent with the song and runic, harmony of folk thinking, is subject to overload, shocks, and the dissonances of an eschatological world view. Displacing the illusion of life plausibility in the representation of the fairy tale line, a symbol endowed with a set of symbolic meanings and magic functions that goes back to primitive cultures becomes the core of the visual system.

Folklore perception about the beginning of the world is interwoven with the foreboding of its end, and the myth about the universe develops in heuristic discoveries, in science fiction hallucinations and artist’s priestly rites, embodied in ritual ceremonies of postmodern installations and performance. Specific features of this art are studied by the author on the works of G. Raishev (representative of the Khanty people), I. Efimov, U. Tanygin (Mari El), S. Orlov, A. Chernyshov (Udmurtia), P. Mikushev, J. Lisowski (Komi) , A. Aleshkin (the Mordovians) and other masters of the ethnocentrism circle, that forms a distinct layer of the modern art.


Peter F.N. Hoerz, research assistant

Georg-August-University, Göttingen, Department for Cultural An­thropology / European Ethnology Germany


The Others as a Resource for Designing Identity

»Virtual Jewishness« Between the Self and “The Strange”

Up until the late eighties of the last century popular knowledge about Jewish culture was limited to aspects of the relation between the Christian and the Jewish religion, conveyed through religious instructions at school and information about the expulsion and extermination of the Jewish population in Central Europe in the Shoah. Whenever the topic was picked up, in TV documentaries („Holocaust“), alternative historical workshops and lectures in adult education centres  the emphasis was always on the process of coming to terms with the past and dealing with a (collective) sense of guilt. Jewish culture was examined only backwards from its violent end, anything happening before that was cut out.

It was the increasing time distance to the era of National Socialism as well as the po­litical turmoil that helped widen the focus on the European-Jewish culture. In Berlin’s “Scheunenviertel”, in Prague and in Cracow this heritage can be discovered whereas it was destroyed in other places. On the basis of the material heritage of a former Jewish population a heritage industry was developed which could be understood as an attempt at revival of this culture, destroyed by National Socialism. An attempt at re­vival, however, that used means different from those used by museums, school cur­riculi and adult education. This revitalisation was built on hands- on experience, the consumption of cultural events and life style. Since the middle of the nineties of the last century the success of Jewish cultural festivals, restaurants, theme hotels, Klez­mer concerts and antique shops has proven the vast net product potential of this European Jewish heritage. For members of the well informed upper middle class it has become chic to stroll over Jewish cemeteries, own a cook book on kosher cuisine and to have at least some basic knowledge about Jewish customs and practices. The Jewish population, however, is untouched by this development. When it comes to the performance and the net product from this Jewish cultural industry today’s living Jews only play a marginal role. Not without reason the US cultural scientist Ruth-Ellen Gruber talks of the “Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe” as “Virtual Jewishness”.

This boom of everything Jewish in the context of tourism and an industry shaping po­litical awareness  is, from an inner-Jewish perspective, viewed upon with suspicion  and critically commented on by intellectuals. There has not been a lot of research of that boom from a demand perspective. All that can be said is that it is based on a for­merly unknown possessive identification process with Jewishness which was never quite familiar but had been downright “strange” through National Socialism and the following historical oblivion.

Joanna Beata Michlic describes the Jews in the context of the Polish formation as a nation as the »frightening other«.In Germany, too, Jews were seen as this “frightening other”. And they are still considered as „other“, as something unknown and strange because rapprochement is so difficult after the Shoah and regardless of a broadened horizon this rapprochement still has to be carried out in the light of Auschwitz. But isn’t this what makes everything Jewish so attractive? Is it not the yearning for reconstruc­tion of something that National Socialism destroyed, as Joachim Schlör describes it? And does this not always carry the wish to be freed from this unloved burden, to be able to estrange oneself from one’s own inherited culture to get “out of one’s own skin” in order to identify with a strange and therefore “better” side? And could this gen­erating of the “frightening other” into a “beloved other” be a resource by which it is possible to serve one’s own escapist wishes and to construct identities?

These are questions which will be consolidated in the framework of this seminar pa­per following a portrayal of different forms of possessive identification with things Jewish supporting new contributions from US anthropology on ethnical and non-Jew­ish-Jewish identity on the basis of my research in Germany, Austria and Poland.


Minna-Liisa Salonsaari, PhD Student

University of Turku, Cultural Heritage Studies



The meaning of cultural heritage in the case of Ingrian Finnish returnees

On my paper, I speak about the meaning of cultural heritage in the case of Ingrian Finnish returnees. My focus is on the returnees’ narrations with a few example interviews. What do these narrations tell about cultural heritage and uses of cultural heritage? What is the role of cultural heritage in immigration and integration?

Ingrian Finns are ethnic Finns whose ancestors moved in the area called Ingria (in Russia near St. Petersburg) from the 17th century on. During the centuries, these Finns lived keeping their own cultural heritage, language, Lutheran religion and habits alive. In 1990 Ingrian Finns got so called right of return to move in Finland. These days, with 30 000 returnees and their family members, the returnees from the former area of Soviet Union are the biggest immigrant group in Finland. Ingrian Finns have been minority for centuries in Russia and now the returnees are minority in Finland. The cultural heritage of the returnees is a mixture of “original” Ingrian Finnish, Finnish, Russian and other cultural heritages. Individuals keep it alive, create it and find it again. Cultural heritage has had a long and complex way from past to future, back in Finland. It is much about lost and found cultural heritages. Cultural heritage can also be seen as an important tool in integration. Narrations, like interviews, are a good way to view the meanings for individuals. The theme of my paper is based on my PhD study in Cultural Heritage. I am studying the remembered and narrated remigration and cultural heritage of the Ingrian Finnish returnees. For my study I have, for example, interviewed returnees.

Mika Suonpää, PhD, Freelance researcher


Discussing Cultural Heritage in the British Parliament, c. 1970-2003

The aim of this presentation is to explore cultural heritage related debates in the British parliament from the 1970s to the early twenty-first century. Cultural heritage was first discussed in the parliament already in the 1930s, but it was not until the 1970s that these debates became more frequent and compelling. The main objective is to establish the broad outlines of the main topics that were being discussed as well as to sketch out the most important shifts in the ways in which cultural heritage was defined by various actors, ranging from conservation lobbyists to members of parliament. Parliamentary debates often touched upon issues such as conservation of historic towns and houses, the role of museums and galleries in defining cultural heritage, challenges of cultural heritage education in multicultural and multiracial Britain and the role of religion in determining cultural heritage. These debates also often addressed questions related to Britain’s position and responsibility in helping to preserve cultural heritage in its former colonies.


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