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Regular version of the site

The Confrontation with Politics Will Be the Main Cultural Trend of 2014

On the threshold of a new year HSE experts are predicting what could be  the main trends in economics, the social and other spheres of life. What changes do we expect to see in the culture? This is what Alexander Archangelsky, HSE Tenured Professor, has to say.

2014 has been pronounced  Year of Culture, which promises much but is fraught with danger. One of the main risks  is that the government, having realized the importance of culture, treats it as a propaganda  tool. Certainly, ideology can emerge from properly functioning cultural mechanisms, but only as a consequence. So, the first trend we anticipate in 2014 is for serious political confrontations over the issues of cultural development.

The second trend is closely connected with the first. We expect a major political clash over reinstating Literature as a compulsory subject and the essay exam paper. The reinstatement in itself is a good thing but the danger is that  political jockeying on this issue has already begun with talks about a unified (which can be interpreted as the only) literature textbook, which will mean less educational diversity and teaching becoming ideologized. The essay needs to reflect new forms of writing and teachers need retraining for that.

I think that theatre will become even more  politicized. We have seen signs of this recently when Russian orthodox believers interrupted a production of The Ideal Husband in a Moscow theatre to protest that a naked woman on a cross above the stage was against the law on offending religious feelings. Cinema and literature will be politicized to a lesser degree, but it’s a global trend, that hasn’t reached us yet. I anticipate some attempts to use museums for political purposes in the coming year too.

2014 is also the year of Russian culture in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the year of British culture in Russia. We managed to fall out over everything but culture. It’s the only area in which we can cooperate. The trend for culture  next year looks good, as in the framework of this crossover-year we will showcase our best to Great Britain, including our modern theatre, art house and documentary films, and we also have very talented composers. I’m sure that  in the splurge of pompous events presented to the English public  our genuinely excellent Russian projects will shine through.

So, this confrontation with politics is going to be the main cultural trend in 2014.

Alexander Archangelsky, HSE Tenured Professor

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