Centre for Urban Folklore and Anthropology Research

The Centre for Urban Folklore and Anthropology Research (CUFAR) was established in 2015.

CUFAR’s research interests are focused on the languages used in cities’ self-descriptions. Its key goal is to study how vernacular texts, ideas, and practices of modern cities (including mythological and historical ideas, current folklore, informal toponymy and vernacular zoning, ritualised practices of celebration and commemoration, etc.) form, occur, and spread.

CUFAR currently has 3 main areas of work:
1. exploring the urban historical memory and the mechanisms for its transmission and preservation;
2. researching the folklore forms of reaction to current social and political events;
3. analysing the current mythology and mythological-ritualistic behaviour in the contemporary urbanistic space.

CUFAR’s work is interdisciplinary in scope. The research team is comprised of specialists representing various academic disciplines: folklorists, anthropologists, and sociologists.

The Centre staff

  • Radchenko D. A., PhD in Cultural Studies, head of CUFAR
  • Arkhipova A. S., PhD in Philology, Senior Research Associate
  • Akhmetova M. V., PhD in Philology, Lead Research Associate
  • Bayduzh M. I., Research Associate
  • Vaks Y. A., Research Associate
  • Gavrilova M. V., PhD in Philology, Research Associate
  • Kirzyuk A. A., PhD in Philosophy, Research Associate
  • Matveeva E. G., Research Associate
  • Neklyudov S. Y., Doctor of Philology, Lead Research Associate
  • Petrov N. V., PhD in Philology, Senior Research Associate
  • Petrova N. S., PhD in Philology, Research Associate
  • Rychkova N. N., PhD in Philology, Research Associate
  • Khristoforova O. B., Doctor of Philology, Lead Research Associate

  • The Centre’s key projects

    The “Mythology and ritualistic behaviour in a modern Russian city” project
    “Mythology and ritualistic behaviour in a modern Russian city” (project N 16-18-00068 of the Russian Science Foundation in 2016-2018).

    The project explores what role traditional models play in the conceptualisation of urban space and the mythologisation of national history. The focus of the subject analysed is placed on studying the so-called ‘archaic syndrome’ – the phenomenon of archaization of the collective consciousness in the postfolklore and postmodern urban environment. Mythological ideas and ritualised practices inherent to the residents of modern Russian cities affect their lifestyles, interactions, child-rearing, motivations, decision-making, degree of loyalty to the authorities, and forms of protest activity. The project involves analysing urban cultural sociolects, “speech genres”, artifacts and practices of contemporary folklore, demonological, conspiratorial, and eschatological motifs in the modern urban environment.

    Key publications containing the project’s interim findings
    Collective monographs:
    1. Urban texts and practices. Volume I: Symbolic resistance: collective monograph / Городские тексты и практики. Том I: Символическое сопротивление: коллективная монография / Drafters A. Arkhipova, D. Radchenko. M.: Delo Publishing. 2016.
    2. Urban texts and practices. Vol. II Newslore: The folklore interpretation of current events. Collective monograph / Городские тексты и практики. Т. 2. Ньюслор: фольклорная интерпретация актуальных событий. Коллективная монография / ed. by Arkhipova A. S., Radchenko D. A. M.: Delo, 2017.

    Articles:
    1. Arkhipova A. S., Radchenko D. A., Titkov A. S. “Our Answer for Obama”: The Logic of Symbolic Aggression / «Наш ответ Обаме»: реакция на санкции как символическая агрессия // Etnograficheskoe obozrenie. 2017. №3. P. 113-137.
    2. Arkhipova A. S., Radchenko D. A., Titkov A. S., Kozlova I. V., Yugay E. F., Belyanin S. V., Gavrilova M. V. “Rally Rebuild”: Internet in Protest and Protest on the Internet / “Пересборка митинга“: интернет в протесте и протест в интернете // Monitoring of Public Opinion. 2018. №1. P. 12-35.
    3. Arkhipova A. S., Kirzyuk A. A. Is plot a symptom? How folklorists study urban legends / Сюжет — это симптом? Как фольклористы изучают городские легенды // Urban Folklore and Anthropology. V. 1. №1. 2018. P. 20-43.
    4. Arkhipova A., Doronin D., Iougaï E., Kirziouk A., Radtchenko D., Titkov A., Volkova М. // Légitimation et disqualification par l’histoire dans les manifestations de rue en Russie (2011-2016) // Le Mouvement social, julliet-september 2017. Pp. 129-148. 1,5 p. p.
    5. Akhmetova M. V. “Marginal” Katoikonyms: From Occasional to Systematic Patterns / «Маргинальные» катойконимы: от окказионального к систематическому // Problems of Onomastics. 2017. V. 14. №1. P. 110-131.
    6. Akhmetova M. V. Strategies of naming and “language policy”: naming town-dwellers / Стратегии номинации и «языковая политика»: названия жителей городов // Labirint: [Electronic resource]. 2016. №5.
    7. Bayduzh M. I. Ghost hunt: practices of exploring creepy spaces according to anthropology and folklore studies / Охота на привидения: практики освоения страшного пространства в современных исследованиях // Urban Folklore and Anthropology. V. 1. №1. 2018. P. 44-58.
    8. Volkova M. D. Diamonds in the Glass: Ideal Things in the Post-Soviet “Soviet Utopia” / За гранью стакана: Идеальные вещи в постсоветской «советской утопии» // New Literary Observer №6, 2016.
    9. Radchenko Daria. Dealing With Danger: Practices Of Keeping and Discarding Magical Letters // Incantatio. 2017. Vol.6. Pp. 24-36. 0,85 p. p.
    The “Monitoring of the current folklore: database and the corpus analysis” project
    “Monitoring of the current folklore: database and the corpus analysis” (project № 16-06-00286 of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, 2016-2018)

    The project aims to study the phenomenon of “folklore reaction” to current events: causes of vernacular texts (jokes, paremias, memes, etc.) emerging in response to important news; linguistic and paralinguistic tools forming texts of the current folklore; identifying the patterns and social ranges of the circulation of folklore texts addressing certain types of issues.

    The research is based around creating a single systematised text corpus of current folklore and the sequential analysis of that text corpus performed using quantitative and qualitative methods. The corpus approach allows for assessing the scope of demand for such texts and their circulation patterns in contemporary society.

    Key publications containing the project’s interim findings
    Peer-reviewed journals:
    1. Arkhipova A., Kirzyuk A., Yugay E. To mask a dangerous name. The poetics of a political formula / Скрыть опасное имя: поэтика политической формулы // RSUH Herald (Ser. “History. Philology. Cultural studies. Oriental studies”). 2017. №12.
    2. Arkhipova A. S., Kirzyuk A. A., Sokolova A. A., Titkov A. S., Doronin D. Y., Yugay E. F., Radchenko D. A. War As Festival, Festival As War: Performative Commemoration Of Victory Day / Война как праздник, праздник как война: Перформативная коммеморация Дня победы // Forum for Anthropology and Culture. 2017. №33. P. 84-122.
    3. Arkhipova A. S., Radchenko D. A., Kirzyuk A. A., Kozlova I. V., Yugay E. F., Belyanin S. V. Meme life cycle in seagulls, cormorants, and ducks / Жизненный цикл мема в чайках, бакланах и уточках // Iskusstvo kino [Art of Cinema]. 2018. #1.
    4. Neklyudov S. Y. At the origin of the urban song of the 20th century, or Why did Marusya poison herself? / У истоков городской песни XX века, или Почему отравилась Маруся? // Traditional culture, 2017, №4. P. 41-61.
    5. Radchenko D. A. “Fried Dill” And “Babies’ Blood”: Alimentary Codes Of Russian-Ukrainian Conflict / «Жареный укроп» с «кровью младенцев»: пищевой код в российско-украинском конфликте // Forum for Anthropology and Culture. 2016. № 31. P. 209-234.
    6. Titkov A. S. Culture Mechanisms in Rebellion: Protest as a Language Game / Восстание культурных механизмов: протест как языковая игра // Sociological Review, 2016, №2. P. 208-233.
    The “Urban historical memory: public portal for oral stories about Moscow” project
    “Urban historical memory: public portal for oral stories about Moscow” (project № 17-2-013869 of the Presidential Grants Foundation, 2018)

    The project aims to conduct comprehensive research on the oral culture of the contemporary megapolis, cultural and historical memory of Moscow citizens, formation, functioning, and historical pattern of the oral historical knowledge, mythologies, beliefs (including ego-history and ego-mythology), preservation and transformation of cultural and historical memory.

    Implementation of the project made it possible to form an accurate picture of how the megapolis space and its history are perceived in oral tradition: customs, practices, and narratives; determine the state of tradition, its structure, and factors affecting how Moscow citizens and visitors perceive the city and its districts. The final goal of the project is to create a single database that would contain places of remembrance, names, stories, and practices that make up the oral portrayal of Moscow in textual and cartographic formats.

    In 2019, the project was continued and extended to various cities in Moscow Oblast, Nizhny Novgorod Oblast, Ivanovo Oblast, and Ryazan Oblast (with support from the Presidential Grants Foundation, project № 18-2-004945 “From the capital to regions: urban historical memory”). The “From the capital to regions: urban historical memory” project aims to collect and process the materials as well as add content to the data bank on oral urban history (over 350 interviews). Personal and family versions of the unofficial history are locally specific and rarely embedded in the official history that forms a public image of a town or specific districts and affects the way they are perceived both “from the inside” – by the town’s residents, – and “from the outside" – by Russian citizens and visitors. The problem is that the locals aren’t involved in the process of actualising the official historical memory, even though they turn out to be key actors in the formation of non-public historical knowledge. The previous project “Urban historical memory: public portal for oral stories about Moscow” resulted in a data bank that documented memories of Moscow citizens (200 interviews from 25 Moscow districts). The data bank is made up of materials (unofficial names for objects in the urban space, biographies, stories about historical events, places, and monuments, legends, etc.) collected during the field research: interviews with representatives of various groups, including the city’s original residents, its visitors, and immigrants; with young and senior citizens; with socially unprotected citizens, and intellectuals.

    It is proposed to scale the project in the new phase in 2018-2019: add 30 Moscow districts, engage district museums and other organisations in consolidating efforts to preserve the urban historical memory, adapt, and implement the methodology for collecting, studying, and preserving the unofficial memory in Moscow Oblast and other regions. We believe it is important that during this phase, we not only expand the number of Moscow districts in order to integrate people into an informal communication but also expand the project’s geography by filling the database with memories of citizens from several towns, whose proximity to Moscow has become an economic good on one hand (they can travel to the capital for work) and a cultural failure on the other (young people only go back to their towns to sleep). Project presentations and lectures on the city’s unofficial historical memory revealed that organisations in Ryazan, Nizhny Novgorod, and Ivanovo are interested in implementing the project locally and the residents of those cities (youth) are lacking involvement in their towns’ cultural and historic life. Actualisation of connection between generations proves significant as well: memories about a district or a town become the very resource that will make it possible to engage young people in the cultural and historical life of their town or a remote district.
    People’s history of Russia: intersections of local “civilisations”
    People’s history of Russia: intersections of local “civilisations”

    The “People’s history of Russia: intersections of local ‘civilisations’” project was guided by a basic idea: bringing local knowledge into the field of public history. People’s history is not just commonly known dates from Russian history, it’s also events of a smaller scale fixed in the historical memory of people living in small towns. Such memory proves to be the most complicated in places that are or used to be situated on the border between countries or regions or on the periphery of a megapolis. Bordering localities change their status and territorial affiliation – sometimes even within the memory of one generation. But such experience often remains invisible to most Russian citizens. Thus, towns that have gone through an occupation or territories that have changed their status from non-capital to capital are important for the project.

    The project aims to define the identity of the territories situated at the intersection of local “civilisations” and bring the locals’ historical knowledge about their town into the space of public history. In 2020-2021, we wish to learn how Russian history is presented in the memory of people living in border towns and districts and teach regional historians, librarians, and other activists engaged in the preservation of memory in the field to create collections of oral memories and represent the local knowledge about their town or district.
    Previous projects “Urban historical memory: public portal for oral stories about Moscow” and “From the capital to regions: urban historical memory” resulted in a data bank on the pastandnow.ru website. In 2020-2021, those projects are expected to be scaled to “People’s history of Russia”.

    Memories about a district or a town end up being an important mobilizational resource for connecting generations, when young people get involved in the cultural and historical life of their town or remote district through collective interviews and workshops. Thus, one of the project’s important goals is to develop a community of local residents, researchers, and activists engaged in studying and developing the local historical memory. The project’s website pastandnow.ru is expected to transform from an archive of memories into an assembly point for those communities.

    In 2020-2021, we plan to perform field research, conduct interviews in eight towns of the Central and Northwestern Federal Districts (visit http://government.ru/projects/selection/657/) as well as Moscow districts that have become part of the city since the 1960s, and add them to the data bank on pastandnow.ru. Project implementation involves holding workshops, lectures on historical memory, and events, dedicated to the most pressing issues regarding the preservation of the historical memory of Russia’s border towns and the capital’s non-central districts, in collaboration with public organisations. The main goal of such events is to create an image of the territory’s future through a conscious understanding of its complicated past, development of the territory’s local identity as well as the local patriotism, and engagement of local residents in its promotion.

    Goal
    1. To actualise the historical and cultural experience of the past in border towns and districts, define the identity of the territories situated at the intersection of local “civilisations”, and bring the locals’ historical knowledge into the space of public history.
    2. To add new content to the public data bank pastandnow.ru and modify its functionality, scale projects “Urban historical memory: public portal for oral stories about Moscow” and “From the capital to regions: urban historical memory” up to “People’s history of Russia” in 2020-2021.
    3. To develop communities of local residents, researchers, and activists engaged in studying and developing the local historical memory. The project’s website pastandnow.ru is expected to transform from an archive of memories into an assembly point for those communities: it will introduce links to related resources and a contacts form.

    Objectives
    1. To develop a methodology, tools, and questionnaires for describing people’s history of Russia and oral urban memory expressed in various types of narratives
    2. To perform field research in certain towns of the Northwestern and Central Federal Districts of Russia, record people’s history of Russia and image texts, conduct oral interviews and write analytical reports on the anthropological research, and form recommendations for regions’ branding
    3. To popularise the search for objects and data of historical and cultural heritage, regional and local brands, research and creative activities among the youth, students, and town activists and popularise activities aimed at preserving the historical heritage in the media
    4. To create one-day laboratories for working on the conducted interviews in town libraries, make libraries assembly points for local communities
    5. To add content to the website, data bank, and map as well as modify their functionality and further expand the pastandnow.ru portal
    6. To develop appealing tour routes in towns and Moscow that can show the visitors some of the territories’ non-obvious landmarks
    From the capital to regions: urban historical memory
    From the capital to regions: urban historical memory

    The “From the capital to regions: urban historical memory” project aims to collect and process the materials as well as add content to the data bank on oral urban history (over 350 interviews). Personal and family versions of the unofficial history are locally specific and rarely embedded in the official history that forms a public image of a town or specific districts and affects the way they are perceived both “from the inside” – by the town’s residents, – and “from the outside" – by Russian citizens and visitors. The problem is that the locals aren’t involved in the process of actualising the official historical memory, even though they turn out to be key actors in the formation of non-public historical knowledge. The previous project “Urban historical memory: public portal for oral stories about Moscow” resulted in a data bank that documented memories of Moscow citizens (200 interviews from 25 Moscow districts). The data bank is made up of materials (unofficial names for objects in the urban space, biographies, stories about historical events, places, and monuments, legends, etc.) collected during the field research: interviews with representatives of various groups, including the city’s original residents, its visitors, and immigrants; with young and senior citizens; with socially unprotected citizens, and intellectuals. It is proposed to scale the project in the new phase in 2018-2019: add 30 Moscow districts, engage district museums and other organisations in consolidating efforts to preserve the urban historical memory, adapt, and implement the methodology for collecting, studying, and preserving the unofficial memory in Moscow Oblast and other regions. We believe it is important that during this phase, we not only expand the number of Moscow districts in order to integrate people into an informal communication but also expand the project’s geography by filling the database with memories of citizens from several towns, whose proximity to Moscow has become an economic good on one hand (they can travel to the capital for work) and a cultural failure on the other (young people only go back to their towns to sleep). Project presentations and lectures on the city’s unofficial historical memory revealed that organisations in Ryazan, Nizhny Novgorod, and Ivanovo are interested in implementing the project locally and the residents of those cities (youth) are lacking involvement in their towns’ cultural and historic life. Actualisation of connection between generations proves significant as well: memories about a district or a town become the very resource that will make it possible to engage young people in the cultural and historical life of their town or a remote district. The project is expected to involve workshops, roundtables, and events dedicated to the most pressing issues of preserving the historical memory of Moscow districts and Russia’s non-capital cities. The data bank, filled with new materials, can be used as a reference guide on unofficial urban memory, which, in turn, may be implemented in educational and social projects or in the development of urban upgrading programmes.

    Goal
    1. To actualise the historical and cultural experience of the past in modern life. To raise awareness among the target groups by organising thematic events (workshops, popular science lectures) in Moscow, Ryazan, Lukhovitsy, Nizhny Novgorod, Volodarsk, Ivanovo, and Shuya. To popularise the national history and the culture of the capital and Russian province.
    2. To add content to the “Urban historical memory: oral stories about Moscow and other cities” public data bank and modify its functionality. The data bank contains a few groups of texts: a) family and personal texts about the city; b) texts related to districts, streets, historical places, and buildings; с) ritual practices related to the geographical and historical objects in the urban space; d) texts referring to historical figures related to those objects.

    Objectives
    1. To record the unofficial historical memory and factors affecting the way citizens of Moscow, Ryazan, Lukhovitsy, Nizhny Novgorod, Volodarsk, Ivanovo, and Shuya perceive their city and its districts – specifically, collect personal and family stories, describe the complex of the cities’ symbolically significant cultural objects.
    2. To organise roundtables, workshops, lectures, conferences, and other events aimed at exchanging the experience of working with the historical memory of urban dwellers. To share recommendations on possible uses of interview texts, to develop and distribute informational materials.
    3. To overcome the lack of skills in regard to public discussions of historical events and figures of the past (1940-2000).
    4. To develop and advance the methodologies and tools for describing the urban historical memory expressed in oral stories, taking into account the particular ways such texts should be communicated (personal, family, local narratives) and regional factors.
    5. To extend the communicative functionality of the database and continue adding content to the “Urban historical memory: oral stories about Moscow and other cities” portal.

    Contact us

    If you would like to join us in developing and implementing our projects, contact our coordinators via pastandnow@yandex.ru (you will get a response from one of our team members – Natalya Petrova, Yulia Vaks, Esta Matveeva, Darya Radchenko) or our project manager Nikita Petrov via nik.vik.petrov@gmail.com

    The project’s website
    The project’s Facebook page
    The project’s VK page