Antropologicheskij forum, 2023, no. 56



Valery Vyugin

The Institute of Russian Literature (Pushkin House), RussianAcademy of Sciences
4 Makarova Emb., St Petersburg, Russia
St Petersburg State University
7–9 Universitetskaya Emb., St Petersburg, Russia

Abstract: The article deals with the history of the notion of “cultural recycling” in the 21st century. This is a continuation of my previous research focused on its early period which started in the 1960s. Although the expression discussed is widely known, there has been no systematic research into its evolving reception over the last half-century. The notion does not belong exclusively to any particular field of humanities; therefore, the proposed survey is inevitably interdisciplinary. Two basic trends will be at the centre of my attention. From the perspective of one, in line with the criticism of postmodern and modern society, cultural recycling was seen as a symptom of a crisis of history from the very beginning, a hallmark of the time thought to be the end of an epoch. Since political and ethical connotations were important for the theories which appropriated the term, it took, at least initially and partly, the meaning of an invective. As regards the discourse of the criticism of the “(post)modern” culture, two points are evident. On the one hand, at a certain moment, a positive attitude towards recycling began to gradually displace the negatively evaluated “eschatological” view. On the other, some scholars finally “deconstructed” it as self-contradictory. Another major trend of both the 20th and 21st century can be characterised as a form of universalism. It embraces the understandings based on the presumption that recycling is immanent, “natural” to culture. Thus, regardless of scholars’ personal intentions, one can qualify it as apologetic. In addition to various interpretations of the term, with respect to the first trend I will comment on its relationships with notions such as collective memory, nostalgia, trauma, new media, and “cultural trash”. With respect to the second, at the centre of my attention will be the issue of epigonism, interdiscursive and crosscultural forms of recycling, the usage of the term in folklore and myth studies, and in anthropology.

Keywords: “cultural recycling”, collective memory, nostalgia, trauma, new media, “cultural trash”, aesthetical and everyday practices.

Acknowledgements: The reported study was funded by Russian Science Foundation (research project no. 19-18-00414).

To cite: Vyugin V., ‘“Kulturnyy resaykling” v XXI v. Kak ego teper ponimat?’ [“Cultural Recycling” in the 21st Century. What Does it Mean Now?], Antropologicheskij forum, 2023, no. 56, pp. 120–168.

doi: 10.31250/1815-8870-2023-19-56-120-168