RESEARCH SIMULATOR WEEK: WHERE DO TRADITIONS COME FROM?

07.11.2012, 14:29
posted in


Research Simulator is Strelka’s experimental educational format that gives students the chance to try their hand at research and understand the steps needed to achieve genuinely independent work. This year, students were invited to select one of four topics, develop a hypothesis and go out into the field, before analyzing the results and preparing final presentations that they gave before their peers and an expert panel. Students from the “Traditions: Invented” group shared their impressions of the Research Simulator week.

Margarita Googe, Perm, Marketing Professional:

“Traditions are an instrument that changes people’s everyday life via a system of rituals and symbols that the State can “introduce” into culture. Thus, to remedy the problem of a lack of meat, the USSR introduced the tradition of “Fish Thursdays”, on which all communal dining areas only served fish dishes.
In my view, the success of the introduction of a tradition depends, for one thing, on the presence of genuine demand amongst the population for the new ritual or symbol. When there is a lack of demand, the State is forced to develop it before using the tradition as a means of control.”

Taisia Osipova, Tomilino, Architect:

“Vladimir Dal defined tradition as “all that is transferred by word of mouth from one generation to the next.” But what compels such diverse people to accept common traditions and observe rituals as a district, city or country? It is clear that an individual’s motivation to follow a tradition is based on respect for the past and a desire to belong to a strong community, receive social support and affirm their status. A tradition can sometimes become a control mechanism. For example, in order to move Russiain line with European traditions, Peter the Great, amongst other things, introduced the tradition of celebrating the New Year on 1 January. New holidays, such as Russia Day on 12 June, were conceived to boost national pride.
In my research, I attempted to show that the Russian people preserve elements of environmental awareness and sustainable behaviour in their everyday lives. The key question is how to create the necessary conditions for this and convert them into legal norms.”

Elena Yarmanova, St. Petersburg, International Relations Expert:

“The long New Year holidays were only introduced in Russia in recent years. I was interested to discover whether a large amount of free time can become the source of new traditions. It seemed clear to me that extended holidays should be an excellent reason to see one’s family. Evidence from Japan and Korea, where the “Golden Week” is celebrated annually, served to confirm my hypothesis. However, a comparative review of experience abroad and in Russia showed that the desire to visit one’s relatives in other cities leads to unparalleled traffic jams and significant fare increases. So, instead of visiting one’s relatives in other towns, another tradition gains strength — spending the New Year holidays in never-ending traffic jams.”

Olga Metalnikova, Moscow, Geographer:

“I was intrigued by how traditions transfer across territory, especially from villages to cities and vice versa. A single tradition can at times come full circle. It moves from its natural rural habitat to major towns, before then returning to the provinces, having substantially increased its spread and become national or even international. For example, the recipe for French fries provided a traditional meal for Belgian peasants in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was popularised in American towns by Thomas Jefferson and then became a traditional part of the global fast food industry thanks to McDonald’s.
After moving to the city, the meaning of a tradition can often change. The popular Internet meme ‘Ty kto takoy? Davay, do svidaniya!’ (Who are you? Come on, goodbye!) grew from a traditional Azeri meykhana that was filmed and uploaded on YouTube. In a flash, a simple phrase from this traditional folk rap became an ironic exclamation and amusing comment. The singers from the famous meykhana have already performed on the Evening Urgant Show on Pervy Kanal and the rapper Timati has shot a parody video. It will be interesting to watch what happens with this meme when it returns to its original region and to see whether the tradition has changed at all.”