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Cultural Exclusion and Frontier Zones

An Introduction to Russian and International Studies of Cultural Exclusion Zones

An Analytical Overview of Recent Concepts1
Zhanna Nikolaeva e Sergey Troitskiy
p. 3-19


This overview presents the most authoritative publications, theories and reflections2 of contemporary philosophers, culturologists3 and sociologists working on the study of cultural exclusion zones. There is a short introduction module, in which we have endeavoured to collate and highlight on the principal themes, terms, concepts and technical vocabulary developed to describe the specific phenomena of cultural exclusion zones. It is not intended as an exhaustive review of all aspects of the large agglomeration of themes related to Cultural Exclusion studies, but focuses in particular on materials from the international “Mechanisms of Formation Zones of Cultural Exclusion and Frontier Areas” conferences (St. Petersburg, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017), some of which have also been selected for this edition of Rivista di Estetica. In this introduction we will present a selection of trends and individuals relating to the Russian and international interdisciplinary research project directed by the Centre for Cultural Exclusion and Frontier Zones of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the St. Petersburg State University as institutions, and by Sergey Troitskiy as theorist and visionary.
In the following review we put forth the reflections of contemporary scientists on the phenomena of exclusion and re-actualization in conjunction with historical processes, along with an analysis of the origins and current state of the problem, and suggest ways to overcome cultural exclusion between various socio-demographic, national and socio-professional groups, as well as the social experience of separation from existing cultural values and norms through the development of a community’s cultural identity. The ideas reviewed propose various approaches to analysing the functional mechanisms of cultural exclusion, such as ontological, sociological, and humanitarian.

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Testo integrale

1. The origin and current state of the problem. Terminology and comparison

  • 1 The reported study was funded by Rfbr according to the research project n. 18-011-00552 at St. Pete (...)
  • 4 The rejection of the term alienation in the case of this research due to the fact that in these are (...)

1The term Exclusion Zone is a description of any area declared by institutions or existing in common memory which is characterized by borderlands, an independence from a real or imaginary centre, while at the same time being derived from it, as in the example of the zone of alienation4 of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which is situated between three independent states that had previously been the territory of the now defunct Ussr. The term «cultural exclusion zones» most accurately describes the situation of creating zones of silence, oblivion and displacement. At the same time, the term «exclusion» (or in some other contexts «alienation») as introduced into science by Karl Marx, in the sense of the separation of the results of labour from the worker and even his environs, has nothing to do with how we are using the term here.

  • 5 According to the theories of Vladimir Vernadsky (1863-1945), themselves reminiscent in some respect (...)
  • 6 The Tartu-Moscow School of Semiotics (Boris Uspensky, Juri Lotman et al.) performed an important ro (...)

2Cultural exclusion zones arise when social memory and political governance do not allow for this phenomenon to be included in the traditionally established cultural norms of a given society. At the same time, they are a product of those self-same norms, and can exist only in close proximity to them, otherwise they are simply a discrete culture. An active cultural space presupposes the existence of a much larger cultural context located within zones of cultural exclusion than is described in such terms as «cultural environment», «collective consciousness», «noosphere»5 or «semiosphere».6

  • 7 Troitskiy (2015).

3The research project of Cultural Exclusion and Frontier Zones, which received the support of the Russian Science Fund in 2014, was preceded by a series of joint Russian-Ukrainian studies in 2012-2013, which focused on the study of socio-cultural realities of the totalitarian age. To contribute to the elaboration of a clear and philosophical terminology, in 2014 Sergey Troitskiy (Institute of Philosophy, St. Petersburg State University and Research Centre for Cultural Exclusion and Frontier Zones of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia) proposed to study zones of cultural exclusion in greater depth, with the construction of a topographic hierarchy and some notes pertaining to the problem of terminological precision in studies on Cultural Exclusion Zones (hereinafter– Cez).7

4The work of the study group revealed that in order to clarify the mechanisms of cultural exclusion zones, it is first necessary to resolve an entire body of research, as well as developments in Humanities studies of the interactions of such broad binary oppositions as: Centre-Periphery, Local-Universal, Self-Other etc. Only then can you move on to the understanding of phenomena at the interface of these concepts, and the degree of elaboration of the philosophical concepts of «social inclusion», «marginalization», «re-inclusion». It was also noted that the most interesting and poorly described phenomena and their consequences arise in areas of the conventional «border». For this we have chosen the word «borderline». Conventional, because the very notion of boundaries – arbitrary, artificial, and of not yet identified or proven origin – means that the final assessment of their usefulness or harmfulness to the sociocultural context cannot be made, and the question of the zones of the Borderlands cannot be completely resolved.

5Now the Research Centre for Cultural Exclusion and Frontier Zones (RC for Cefs) established at the Sociological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences is designed for an interdisciplinary study of the processes that drive exclusion and marginalization of cultural values, events, meanings, and of the phenomenon of the cultural borderland as a meeting place and zone of interaction of different cultural traditions.

  • 8 Malinov (2016: 431).

Study is required not only into the mechanisms of “zones of cultural exclusion” (a term of Sergey Troitskiy, head of the Centre), and reproduced ideological systems, but also into the opposite processes of the re-actualization of marginalized cultural experiences, and the overcoming of forgetfulness presented by the practice of philosophical reflection.8

6To describe cultural exclusion zones and the mechanisms of their formation in different cultural contexts, we also make reference to the new accentuation of the problems of cultural and social memory, and we propose to interpret social and cultural, historical and political processes as a result not only of common practices represented as the active field of culture, but also as a result of the impact of displaced cultural experience, which was in a field of silence. Some peripheral essences are probably doomed to «die out», but many can be the subject of re-actualization. They are held in the actual cultural space through criticism from official sources: bullying, ridicule, refutation etc. In this way, the confrontation between the mainstream and the «cultural archive» is an interference overlap of meanings that can significantly change and even distort the environment of interpretations.

2. Marginalization and/or exclusion. The problem of boundaries

7For any culture, marginal zones are a kind of isolation area that prevents a culture open to encouraging reform from breaking down entirely; zones of exclusion are a different phenomenon. We see the phenomena of cultural exclusion and marginalization as the subject of our research, while the object is the historical process of formation, development and transformation of identities within certain symbolic boundaries. The problem of the definition of boundaries lies in the field of interdisciplinary research and is most developed in the Sciences of the Earth. The symbolic social borderland, on the other hand, appears to us as a bicultural space that does not wholly relate to either of the cultural centres between which it is located, but at the same time is incapable of being distinct or examined separately from them.

  • 9 See for example T.M. Wilson and H. Donnan (eds), A Companion to Border Studies, Wiley-Blackwell, 20 (...)

8Currently Border Studies9 is expanding the scope of its research into diverse interdisciplinary perspectives including anthropology, history, sociology, development studies, geography, and political science. The Turin Laboratory of Ontological Research (LabOnt, Italy, Chair: Tiziana Andina, University of Turin) is formulating the latest primary principals for the analysis of the essence of all types of boundaries. A classification of universal definitions for boundaries was also undertaken by the «Mobile Boundaries» Viadrina Centre B/Orders in Motion for Research into Migration Processes at the European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder, Germany (Kerstin Schoor, Director of the Centre for Jewish Studies, Berlin-Brandenburg).

9It is important for us that the clarification and development of a universal boundaries theory permits the use of a more precise definition for the description of the processes of the subject’s everyday activity. The hypothesis that a conceptualization of boundaries is also important for the description of localized processes of cultural creation (art, literature, myth-making) is at this stage supported by representatives of all Humanities disciplines. The conceptualization of boundaries plays a particularly important role in questions of methodology, disciplinary opportunities, and for determining the limits of moral guidelines. The cultural processes at work in today’s Russia do not give themselves over entirely to proper analysis and assessment using traditional research methods. This is especially true in regions of inter-ethnic contact, where different national and religious cultures intermingle, and borderland cultural phenomena develop. To study them requires a complex approach, and the involvement of specialists from various fields of socio-humanitarian science. It was this in particular which led to us turning to the German cultural context. An analysis of borderland cultural phenomena occurring at the conjunction of several cultural traditions which are driven by mutual influences, borrowings etc. allows us not only to trace the mechanisms of cultural exclusion but also, to a significant extent, cultural hybridization.

10We can observe the establishment of boundaries in some unusual circumstances: in museums having «closed and secret spaces», in temporality – the exclusion of the names of historical ages (with some periods merely marginalized), and in the exclusion of today’s global culture united in a common information space we can observe the process of erasing borders, strengthening their transparency. But at the same time, we can see the opposite reaction – attempts to set new boundaries, to artificially create exclusion zones though the marginalization of groups, ideas, environments etc. The stereotyping practices of a culture sets the tone for its study and determines the results of that study, while at the same time the study of what lies at the margin, those components which have been pushed out, «forgotten», liberated from cultural stereotypes, allows us to consider these stereotypes as it were from the outside, without falling under their influence. However, it is the marginal elements, expelled and displaced from cultural practices, but the culture forgets, identification and determine its limits.

  • 10 See Troitskiy (2015).

It is worth mentioning that, of course, the repressed, the “forgotten” repressed and “forgotten” for certain reasons, which themselves influenced cultural stereotypes, and hence, in respect of marginalia, when we talk about freedom from cultural stereotypes, we mean only quantitatively less dependence researcher from them.10

  • 11 Third International Research Conference “Mechanisms for Formation of Cultural Exclusion and Frontie (...)

11Another form of boundary is that between the body and the intellect, the boundaries of the I space. In the opinion of Konstantin Ocheretyanniy11 (Institute of Philosophy, St. Petersburg State University, Russia) a person’s body is itself an exclusion zone. According to the definition developed by philosophical anthropology, Man differs from all other living things not by the presence of some ill-defined inner feeling of «self» (something which we can now observe in plants) and not even by the presence of cognition, but by a unique and eccentric positionality. Other beings are «centred» in the sense that the centre of their physical body is also the centre of their essence, they are anchored to the natural world. Animals are totally incorporated into their own bodies: in belonging to the natural order, they are in many respects «just bodies» - somatic automata. Does that not mean that the physical body of a human being is merely the arena for the struggle between symbolic models of the corporeal, while his or her story is that of the expulsion, devastation and obliteration of that physical hardware which had hitherto been dominant? A symbolic archaeology of the body as a new theoretical device would allow us to restore expunged forms and signs circulating in space by reference to those «decorative» elements (fragments from the chain of symbol and meaning) which have survived, to observe alternative styles of sensibility and to rehabilitate devalued models of human desire.

  • 12 Ivi: 41-42.
  • 13 Lefebvre (2015: 109).

12Vera Tripodi12 (University of Turin, LabOnt, Italy) also discusses the role of the corporeal and the body in politics and the practice of cultural alienation. The problem of alienated physicality is linked to the problem of unconscious prejudice, it carries a hermeneutic significance, when in an attempt to comprehend our social experience we encounter the iniquitous obstacle of a chasm in the interpretative sources available in our society. For example, a society cannot admit that its members are suffering for one reason or other because it has no means of interpretation which would allow it to understand or see that things are arranged unfairly. «A defined, that is to say, a closed space will embrace one thing and reject another (sometimes expelling it to the sphere of nostalgia, sometimes simply to the realm of the forbidden). It affirms, it rejects, it denies».13 The cultural description of such spaces is not always the same as their true technical (topographical, sociological) description. Efforts must be made to overcome the metaphoricality of the processes that describe confrontation and alienation in the urban environment. A social-ontological analysis would appear to be one potential method to solve this problem.

13In sum, the aim of this research project is to clarify and adapt for Russian discourse the concept of boundary, by identifying those characteristics which allow it to have a universal epistemological nature irrespective of discipline, which allows for the concept of boundary to be used not only within the bounds of spatial paradigms of thought. Such an approach allows us to overcome containment, to establish a scientific, social and economic discourse and to diagnose potential problems in communication.

3. Exclusion zones in social systems

  • 14 Lundén (2015: 171-190).

14Contemporary political philosophy and social ontology are in agreement that the formation of cultural exclusion zones did not coincide with the emergence of humans as a biological species, but happened significantly later, concomitant with the process of humankind’s conquering of the earth’s surface, the crossing of natural barriers as well as the recognition of language barriers as a reaction and contra-reaction to the necessity to synchronize and stereotype the collective body of humankind with its collective mind – in other words, concomitant with the development of different forms of socialization. In contemporary global culture, united as it is in a single information field, there is a process ongoing of the erosion of boundaries, and the increasing of their transparency. Economic processes, territorial commonality (geographical, biological, geological etc.) and the similarity of the problems arising from this commonality make barriers transparent, and essentially remove them altogether for inhabitants of frontier territories, and even more so for the inhabitants of territories whose barriers themselves are transparent.14

15At the same time we see an opposite reaction – attempts to set boundaries, to create exclusion zones for the clarification of one’s own identity. The process is taking place «from without», just as it is along the lines of the self-identification of marginalized subjects: «For me, that which is Other is the only conceivable guarantee for my own Self» (E. Levinas). In this way, a loss of conflict (exclusion) with that which is Other, can be seen as a threat to the sense of one’s own identity. On the example of peripheral zones, such a «construct» of an enemy (U. Eco) takes on the hallmarks of the creation of a sub-culture, built on the principle of a contradiction of the historical totality of a centuries-old figure, and also on criteria which are for now not fully understood, and which demand further study. Meanwhile the antagonistic development – the imposition of various cultural barriers («fences», «walls») which have alienated groups – is a topic which is practically impossible to study owing to the difficulty of access to empirical psychosocial analysis of the functioning of internal exclusion zones. In the post-information society, where «general intellect» (P. Virno) reigns supreme, cultural contradictions such as utilitarianism, materialism, nationalism, religious fundamentalism, traditionalism, characterised as they are by their own «cultural exclusion zones», become relevant objects for study. For example, in the structures of modern megapolises, the principal critical zones where these contradictions are at their most obvious are the city outskirts. The problems of social inequality and social conflict are far from a satisfactory resolution even in the most successful and well-off cities in the world. It was noted that such problems become more acute when the «topos» of the megapolis has successfully formed. Actual social (or national etc.) stratification is reinforced once the structure of centre-periphery is in place (see also the appearance and existence of social or national ghettos). Such confrontation and social (or national etc.) tension results in open action from representatives of the peripheral regions against representatives of the Centre on the one hand and representatives of still more marginalized strata on the other. If the first instance represents the actual acknowledgement of the existence of the Centre (hence the protest), then the second is an attempt to self-classify with the Centre. Such a situation is particularly true in relation to the migrant crisis in Europe. This project’s authors surmise that in the coming few years this problem will also become especially acute in Russian megapolises as the children of the new peripheries, social and national ghettoes reach adolescence.

16Any social change, entailing as it does changes in people’s activity, will inevitably be subject to the interpretation of those who find themselves in the changed circumstances: marginalisation, cultural exclusion, just as with rehabilitation or gentrification of mental spaces manifest themselves in the form of new situations, in which individuals must construct new forms of action and new kinds of social interaction. In the future, the formulation of social reality must become not only a space for specialised theoretical research, but a basis for practical work by professionals.

17The formation of cultural exclusion and the formation of the actual culture always take place in connection with and in conjunction to the discourse of power. It is primarily power and a dominant ideology that acts as the source of exclusion, and so the task of philosophy and literature is to revive displaced meanings, metaphors, images, cultural topos, and by overcoming oblivion to deconstruct cultural exclusion zones and create an opposition. The government (power, state) gives a necessary «historical» symbolism to time and space, and it is on this symbolism that our «reverse» reading of territory, of locus and of identity is based. We also examine the mechanisms of cultural exclusion as an aggregation of actual approaches in the study of the trajectory between power and society. The study of this important aspect must produce results for practical use in the field of predictive social design and optimization of control systems, and this requires a complex interdisciplinary approach.

18The «uncertainty principle», formulated in relation to quantum physics by Werner Heisenberg, is relevant to the study of culture. The reason for this is self-evidently the complexity of the verbalization of the results in the language of everyday communication, on the one hand, and on the other that the researcher is unlikely to be a detached neutral observer, which is impossible to imagine in research culture and sociology. The social environment that exists on the need for a mechanism of a cooperation built on common conditions of stereotypes, i.e. a stereotyped environment, requires the demarcation line of mine-not mine, the border that separates the cultural space of the uncultured (in terms of his own social environment). However, this terminological system based on topographic principles describes the social space as a static entity, and dynamic and constant change and mobility are not captured, therefore the boundaries between cultural spaces are perceived as frozen. The interaction and optimization of the management of such social systems has become the subject of special interdisciplinary researches only in the second half of the twentieth century.

19This preliminary approach was also aimed at examining the connection between the formation of the collective body and collective involvement in a loss (negative - trauma and positive - sacrifice). The formation of the collective body results in the shaping of limits, which can acquire the character of state borders or the borders of social communities. At the same time, social communities are arranged in accordance with the views of the distribution of power, the need for centre and periphery, or the lack of that need.

  • 15 Malinov (2016: 432).

20Marginalization and cultural exclusion in cultural areas and peripheral zones are an aggregation of social, economic and behavioural problems which has been known since ancient times. In the work of researchers and project participants it was identified primarily that the confrontation between traditions reinforcing values against innovation deconstructing them is «a permanent reformation of the cultural field», and a form of cultural norm, accompanied by «marginalization and exclusion of some of the cultural values of others».15

21Have the spaces of cultural exclusion been created only by a dominant ideology? We are very familiar with the processes of the formation of memory zones, which accumulate our knowledge of the past; these memory zones are always accompanied by the emergence of suppression zones covering the experiences and phenomena which were excluded, for one reason or other, from conventional cultural practices.

  • 16 Third International Research Conference “Mechanisms for Formation of Cultural Exclusion and Frontie (...)

22Ideological and Rhetorical Analysis of Cultural Exclusion (by Eugeny Makovetsky16 - Institute of Philosophy, Saint-Petersburg state University, Russia) sets out to examine the role of museums in the formation of cultural exclusion zones. If the museum serves as a base model for the study of the formation mechanisms of memory (the concept of cultural heritage) it may at the same time be a form of false consciousness (P. Sloterdijk), and a commemorative project for the critique of ideology (where actual existing ideology is not the same as the era from which the exhibits originate). So, the museum is one of those institutions which participates in the creation of a Cez and at the same time is in conflict with it, depending on the context. It interesting too that public museums only came into being in the late modern age and this fact could be studied in future through the vision of presenting the modern era. Its rhetorical part consists of an artificial compatibility of various ideologies represented in its artefacts and their combinations in real life, most having the property of cultural exclusion.

23The preservation, reproduction, translation and not infrequently the manufacturing of values attributed to a traditional culture have in this case their own specific nature which merits separate study. Particular attention should be paid to national ideologies and myth-making, along with the increasingly popular regional ideology. The study of these processes is within the scope of ethnosophy. Regional ethnosophy is a variation on the theme of archaisation and the mythologisation of consciousness. Mythological thinking retains its significance even in contemporary society, where the processes of mythologisation work with no less intensity than they did in archaic societies. In particular, in ethnosophical consciousness it is possible to discern a return to a cosmocentric and natural-pholisphical worldview, which provides an alternative to mass consciousness and the dehumanising intent of technogenic civilization. Ethnosophy incorporates new models of historical consciousness and even anthropology.

4. Memory exclusion

  • 17 Ferraris (2005; 2010; 2012).

24The forgotten and displaced (excluded) can be a source of creative energy, stories and instruments which reproduce the prior cultural experience. By this we do not mean the random localization of displaced objects (phenomena, narratives, events, characters, personae etc.) and their manifestations, but a full and intentional cultural obliteration. The object in question was, until the moment of displacement, included within a network of relationships with other objects and located in a context (an active field) of culture, thereby leaving definite markers of its presence in the culture, and «traces» of its functioning. These traces (names, lexemes, associations, connotations, material objects etc.), connected as they are to other objects, become a means of the preservation of the original object in «recorded form» (Hegel) within the cultural exclusion zone, thanks to which that object may be re-actualised and returned from the cultural exclusion zone, for instance as a museum object with a renewed identifying significance. Insofar as the human body itself is a cultural (social) object, its finality requires a social act of affirmation, that is, according to M. Ferraris,17 an act of documentation (entry in a memorial book) so that the completed object can become an ontologically present object. The act of documentation for a finished body is, for example, its loss, presented in fact as a point deprived of meaning without the consequent text (the narrative story of the bereavement). The bereavement in and of itself is neutral, but as soon as the subject realises its narrative potential, we are always dealing with a construction of loss in the mode of trauma or victim.

  • 18 We can remember the role of the secret in child-societies as well as zones of silence in national o (...)

25Among the new directions in memory studies for cultural exclusion zones is so-called «cultural traumatology» (the investigation of cultural traumas, the phenomenon of the victim and their influence over the identification of subjects and structures in the cultural space with the aid of «latent recall», i.e. the sense of attachment to the trauma or victim), and the problem of topographical hierarchy described above (the interconnectedness of centre and periphery, their influence over the way in which the life strategies of subjects are constructed, the composition of space, cultural «pain points», the problem of the structure of moral consciousness (the processes of displacement/replacement), the abandonment and restoration of moral values and behavioural practices. A philosophy of the social construction of trauma and victim need the notion of the «construction of loss» presupposes the regulation of the forms in which it is latent and manifest (enunciated), and also of the cultural exclusion zones in which displaced experience is prohibited.18 In any event, the construction of loss presupposes a regulation of the forms of its default (obliteration, oblivion) and the manifestation of borders on the cultural exclusion zones within which displaced experience is forbidden, and also cultural exclusion zones demarcated from the principal zone of exclusion for the subsequent potential, albeit not definite reanimation of an object, such as special library repositories for copies of banned books; classified archives; or museum collections that are opened only after a specific date.

26In the current «boom» of interest in the problem of memory – simultaneously from science, philosophy and even mass culture – the most important fact is that the essence of the rhetorical art of memory possibly finds its truest reflection in the functioning of modern museums. We can also observe that in the 20th century the boom in interest to the problem of memory precisely coincides with the «museum boom». And here, possibly, is a more pertinent point: it is impossible to deny that memory represents a more relevant justification for the existence of a museum than, say, enjoyment. Notwithstanding the fact that upon entering a museum, a visitor entirely reasonably expects to derive enjoyment from their communion with beauty, it is not this, but rather memory that is the justification for the meaning of a museum in the eyes of society, particularly in the second half of the 20th century. The museum is first and foremost an institution of memory, and only then a source of enjoyment, national pride, personal or professional growth and so on. Is it not possible to read in this method of justifying the museum’s existence the traces of its emergence and the rhetorical art of memory?

  • 19 Third International Research Conference “Mechanisms for Formation of Cultural Exclusion and Frontie (...)

27To erase something from cultural memory is a difficult ideological task, but this ancient experience shows us that there are few practically updateable communities. One of the most important questions of function of the mechanisms that form cultural exclusion zones in our imaginary collective conscience is the issue of selective memory, oblivion and reflection for deactualization and exclusion to the «forgotten unforgettable» as expressed by Natalia Artemenko19 (Institute of Philosophy, St. Petersburg State University, Russia) in cataleptic consciousness / post-traumatic subject topics.

  • 20 Ivi: 61-62.

28The mechanisms of historical memory should also be described in terms of epistemology. Lada Shipovalova20 (Institute of Philosophy, St. Petersburg State University, Russia) means that a gesture of historical recollection or «re-actualization» of phenomena which have been safely repressed to the margins of the history of science is pre-scientific. Her research uses the example of de-actualized values of scientific concepts and the interpretation of scientific facts in the past. «Styles of scientific thinking» incomprehensible to modern man, and ancient logic were, as it turned out, subject to de-actualization. But also interesting are the process and procedure for final displacement, as well as the internal (organic) mechanisms of memory, which possess and give to us the art of forgetting.

5. From exclusion to re-actualisation. Mechanisms of functioning

29The results of the study in this field are based on the reflection that takes as its object the mechanisms of functioning of a cultural exclusion zone in a general, abstract sense. The authors draw attention to three aspects of this process: deactualization, exclusion and re-actualization. It is evident to us that cultural temporality and form of cultural transformation can be (and must be) examined in the first instance through the de-actualization / re-actualization dichotomy, which points us towards the methodology of the Moscow-Tartu’s school. Actuality comprises culture as a semiotic system and at the same time terminologically implies non-actuality, which is of greater interest to us. Thus, the cultural situation is perceived as a graduated structure, as a confrontation between the conventional (cultural mainstream), and marginalized cultural practices. It is their dialectical opposition to determine the dynamics of cultural processes, as well as the hierarchy of cultural phenomena. In this approach exclusion also reveals itself in two ways: it can be an incidental lateral effect (approximate to marginalization) or it can be an inevitable phase of linear (cyclical) development.

30The functional approach, which permits us to see culture as a mobile and dynamic system, presupposes the usage of different terminology. In this sense, we consider the notion of the actuality of culture (i.e. the group of phenomena which are constantly used in culture and are variably reproduced, being part of the continuum of consciousness and biased assimilation) as the most precise definition for the system of cultural stereotypes (i.e. a positive semiotic system as opposed to a negative system of marginal phenomena). The imposition of the threefold model of «de-actualization – exclusion – re-actualization» to cultural phenomena demonstrates the basic cultural patterns that provide the identification codes of cultures, on the one hand, and on the other, helps to detect the exclusion phenomena «pushing» to the periphery of a culture, and forming a kind of «cultural oblivion» space, whose elements can be re-actualized because of certain factors (historical, social, ideological etc.) and can be included in the active process of cultural formation.

31For example, an analysis of the revolutionary events of 1917, the centenary of which is being celebrated this year, show that they are directly relevant to the issue of cultural exclusion zones as an example of the absolute displacement and redrawing of the reality of Imperial Russia. An historical-philosophical analysis of these events led us to the hypothesis that if we subscribe to the logic of exclusion described above, then the events develop along the model of «actualization» – «de-actualization» – «re-actualization», whereby we are able to discern zones of exclusion within a temporal segment, as well as observing the mechanisms of re-actualisation.

  • 21 See Troitskiy (2015).

32Collective actionism, metaphorically speaking, can be directed as much to the benefit of an object as to its deconstructive desecration. Ideologies which enter into a quasi-religious relationship with society deify all that is actual and tangible, assimilating the latter, that which makes Man a free antagonist. As we have already noted, the mechanisms include such instruments as displacement, prohibition, tabooization – as we call them, «instruments of de-actualization».21 Sometimes salvation comes through de-actualization, which «breaks the spell» and brings back into common usage that which had been sacred (actualized) and therefore isolated and frozen. If we evaluate those objects which are the vessels for selfhood (for fully acknowledged identity) as we do instruments of desacralization through the peculiar ritual of desecration (de-actualization), then we come to the conclusion that we are inevitably faced with an existential, dualistic choice: exclusion or re-actualization?

33The explosion of interest in the problem of the choice between the alienated and the mainstream, just as with the movement towards new semiotic constants, that all-revealing choice, has not yet been studied as the experience of embodiment through the «sacralization – desecration» dichotomy in the way that M. Bakhtin managed in a literary context. At the time of writing we are already sufficiently close to using this method to describe the phenomenon of collective social memory in its state of re-actualization and ritualization.

6. Conclusion and perspectives for further research

34An investigation into the mechanisms of cultural interaction underlying these processes remains an important issue, as the construction and deconstruction of cultural exclusion zones is still ongoing today. Theoretical analysis of crucial concepts in contemporary interdisciplinary studies on borders, memory and other topics we plan to going forward, directed towards the formulation of a complex system dedicated to the resolution of the sociocultural problems of cultural exclusion in the more obscure regions of societies, by identifying those factors which either enable or inhibit the processes of their marginalization and alienation.

35The researchers consciously selected an interdisciplinary study format in which Russian, Italian, German, Ukrainian and other international academics – representatives of different areas and schools of the Humanities – took part. We also hope that, in addition to postgraduate and undergraduate students of the St Petersburg State University and other higher educational institutions, secondary schools will also participate in the further development of these and related concepts. The research group brought together by this project takes into consideration the multifaceted influences that affect a culture’s makeup, and sees in the interaction of different cultures not only frontier zones (marginal and containing elements of two and more interacting cultures) but also exclusion zones, i.e. zones of cultural suppression whose importance for interacting cultures becomes rather questionable. In the future, discussion will continue on the academic aspects of such cultural and philosophical-anthropological phenomena as the mechanisms of cultural exclusion in the formation of patterns of the collective consciousness, identity, and re-actualization with the example of the interdisciplinary mega-concept of the essence of boundaries in social systems. This theme is closely connected with study on the ontology of social reality, cultural memory and the overcoming of psychological trauma.

36Above all, in the near future we must be able to describe the system of the centre-periphery relationship (as a topographical hierarchy) and its influence on the problems of society, of sideways mobility, urbanism, political and economic geography, as well as on the formation of a semiotic environment which directly defines the social, cultural, environmental and behavioural sphere and determines the established inter-relationships between representatives of various parts of the topographical hierarchy. In their eventual application the results achieved may come to be used to determine the degree of success of one or other social model in a specific locale.

37Another objective in our view is the continuing elicitation of the construct of trauma and victimhood in the process of political and ideological manipulation, and manipulation in marketing, which will allow us to predict the behaviour of a subject (or subjects) who fall(s) under its influence, as well as to identify the «pain points» of a subject in practical psychology and government technologies.

38We would also like to clarify the working model and functional mechanisms of the strategies of exclusion-reactualization in the rhetorical areas of memory, regulatory commemorative practice, which has an epistemological bearing on both the clarification of education strategies and on the assessment of the role of public objects which embed that which has been actualized (museums, memorials, historical markers of ownership, the virtualization of substituted memory (the example of the Crimean peninsula), situations of exaltation and manipulation). The field of Exclusion Zone and Boundaries studies will be concentrated also on the topics such an identity inclusion, exclusion and mobility; grey zones; hybridity; memory exclusion and urban social theory of population displacements; cultural hegemony as a mechanism of exclusions.

39In this way, the study will be devoted to the emergence of the latest approaches and of de-actualization – re-actualization practice in the modern society as a whole. We consider that the origins of the issue, its disciplinary skills and stages of development, ideology, objectives and instruments are now being reviewed, described and terminologically verified. The cultural and philosophical foundations of exclusion and boundaries studies will be rooted in and will refer to the practice of making a possible contribution to a stable, well-established world, where the peak of development intensity has passed, and the orientation of rationality has shifted from the external to the internal – to the emotional «life experience». We hope that the practical experience of the neutralization of cultural exclusion zones will follow swiftly on from the cultural-philosophical understanding of the phenomenon.

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1 The reported study was funded by Rfbr according to the research project n. 18-011-00552 at St. Petersburg State University.

2 In this overview, cited sources include in parentheses the authors (and their affiliations), whose concepts or terms were discussed in the study group in the form of colloquia or talks, but which do not have the status of published materials..

3 According to American anthropologist Leslie White, philosopher of science Mario Bunge, culturologist Mikhail Epstein, and followers of the Soviet and Russian schools of the semiotics of culture and the philosophy of culture, Culturology is the study of human cultures, their integral systems, and their influence on human behaviour; it may be formally compared to the Western discipline of cultural studies, but it differs from traditional cultural studies by its obligatory application of philosophical scientific method and by its study of factual social experience and actual social systems.

4 The rejection of the term alienation in the case of this research due to the fact that in these areas (of exclusion) can be or is prohibited some specific or proper own initiatives and activities, while the alienation in the connotations of the distance, dissociation, mental disorder are not terms that describe our point of a problem.

5 According to the theories of Vladimir Vernadsky (1863-1945), themselves reminiscent in some respects of the ideas of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the noosphere emerges at the point where humankind begins to harness the mastery of nuclear processes to synthesize resources through the transmutation of elements. These theories envisioned a drastic transformation in the means of communication and interaction between different countries (this had already taken place) as well as the strengthening of links, including political links, between different states on Earth; the elimination of all boundaries between identities thanks to combined efforts made by all in the interests of the comprehensive development of humankind as a whole and each person individually (this remains a part of social engineering).

6 The Tartu-Moscow School of Semiotics (Boris Uspensky, Juri Lotman et al.) performed an important role in the formation of topographical metaphors in relation to culture and the description of interesting problems (several key points were planned).

7 Troitskiy (2015).

8 Malinov (2016: 431).

9 See for example T.M. Wilson and H. Donnan (eds), A Companion to Border Studies, Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.

10 See Troitskiy (2015).

11 Third International Research Conference “Mechanisms for Formation of Cultural Exclusion and Frontier Zones-2016”, St. Petersburg, 20-22 October 2016: 39-40.

12 Ivi: 41-42.

13 Lefebvre (2015: 109).

14 Lundén (2015: 171-190).

15 Malinov (2016: 432).

16 Third International Research Conference “Mechanisms for Formation of Cultural Exclusion and Frontier Zones-2016”, St.Petersburg, 20-22 October 2016: 65-66.

17 Ferraris (2005; 2010; 2012).

18 We can remember the role of the secret in child-societies as well as zones of silence in national or state discourse. In the first instance, that means a confluence in a local and small-scale collective body, in the second – a collective body at the level of state or nation.

19 Third International Research Conference “Mechanisms for Formation of Cultural Exclusion and Frontier Zones-2016”, St. Petersburg, 20-22 October 2016: 30-31.

20 Ivi: 61-62.

21 See Troitskiy (2015).

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Notizia bibliografica

Zhanna Nikolaeva e Sergey Troitskiy, «An Introduction to Russian and International Studies of Cultural Exclusion Zones»Rivista di estetica, 67 | 2018, 3-19.

Notizia bibliografica digitale

Zhanna Nikolaeva e Sergey Troitskiy, «An Introduction to Russian and International Studies of Cultural Exclusion Zones»Rivista di estetica [Online], 67 | 2018, online dal 01 avril 2018, consultato il 15 juin 2024. URL:; DOI:

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Zhanna Nikolaeva

Institute of Philosophy, Saint Petersburg State University, 5 Mendeleevskaya Liniya, 199034, St. Petersburg, Russia
Research Center for Cultural Exclusion and Frontier Zones, Sociological Institute of FCTAS RAS, 25/14 7-ya Krasnoarmeyskaya str., 190005, St. Petersburg, Russia;

Sergey Troitskiy

Institute of Philosophy, Saint Petersburg State University, 5 Mendeleevskaya Liniya, 199034, St. Petersburg, Russia
Research Center for Cultural Exclusion and Frontier Zones, Sociological Institute of FCTAS RAS, 25/14 7-ya Krasnoarmeyskaya str., 190005, St. Petersburg, Russia

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