FORUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGY AND CULTURE

ANTROPOLOGICHESKIJ FORUM
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Forum for Anthropology and Culture, 2016, no. 12

 

KILLER YEAST: GASTRONOMIC CONSPIRACY THEORIES AND THE CULTURE OF MISTRUST IN MODERN RUSSIA

Jeanne Kormina

National Research University Higher School of Economics
4 Soyuza Pechatnikov Str., St Petersburg, Russia
jkormina()hse.ru

Summary: This article focuses on gastronomic fears that have spread in contemporary Russia within last decade, or more specifically, fears associated with the consumption of yeast bread. Shared by various social groups, from Orthodox fundamentalists to new age sympathisers and secular middle class people, these social fears reveal the existence of a new culture of distrust in post-Soviet society. The object of distrust is represented by the State along with its institutions responsible for the production and control of knowledge, including science, medicine, education and the mass media. At the same time, the main object of fear is a loss of personal freedom, which is articulated as quality of life, health issues, and opportunities for self-improvement. This article argues that the culture of distrust is a by-product of an information society where instead of having limited access to information from mass-media, people question its accuracy, and have to define or re-define the criteria of its accuracy in their everyday routine. At the same time, the proliferation of the culture of distrust is a reaction to ‘risk situations’ (U. Beck) where the concept of risk is connected with the diversification of knowledge in modern society which leaves customers incapable of estimating the level of threat that invisible and omnipresent enemies, like GMOs or yeasts, present. This article elaborates on the role of so called ‘new intellectuals’ in this culture of distrust.

Keywords: food, consumption, risk society, new intellectuals, culture of distrust, post-Soviet Russia.

To cite: Kormina J., 'Killer Yeast: Gastronomic Conspiracy Theories and the Culture of Mistrust in Modern Russia', Forum for Anthropology and Culture, 2016, no. 12, pp. 201–229.

URL: http://anthropologie.kunstkamera.ru/files/pdf/eng012/kormina.pdf