Territorial Identities in Industrial Neighborhoods: Cultural Practices of Factory Workers and Contemporary Art Communities

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Alexandrina Vanke
Elizaveta Polukhina


Territorial Identity, Industrial Neighborhoods, Cultural Practices, Factory Workers, Cultural Class Analysis


The article considers territorial identities formed around two Soviet-era enterprises, the Likhachev Automotive Plant (ZIL) in Moscow and the Ural Heavy Machine Building Plant (Uralmash) in Yekaterinburg. Using the example of these two cases we answer the question of how the territorial identity of industrial neighborhoods is created in post-Soviet Russia. We analyze cultural practices in both industrial neighborhoods and show how cultural actors contribute to the transformation of their territorial identities.
The study reveals an increase in social inequality among residents of the neighborhoods, specifically between workers and representatives of other social groups. Against the background of neoliberal policy, new social actors come to the industrial neighborhoods and change the their social composition. Both cases of ZIL and Uralmash demonstrate the stratification of working- and middle-class identities and cultures. Thus, in the case of industrial neighborhoods we can speak of multiple territorial identities that are represented in the exercise of class-differentiated Soviet and post-Soviet cultural practices and the reproduction of old and new lifestyles.
The role of cultural actors in the formation of multiple territorial identities of industrial neighborhoods is ambivalent. On the one hand, they contribute to the creation of a new cultural environment and try to transform the marginal image of industrial territories to make them more attractive to wider urban publics. On the other hand, due to this cultural expansion residents of industrial neighborhoods are becoming an invisible social group with no chance to speak publicly. Working-class culture, represented for instance in crafts, is devalued and not perceived as worthy. Therefore, cultural actors’ activity corresponds to general trends of gentrification and the displacement of workers from industrial territories and public spaces. The abovementioned processes indicate the reproduction of cultural, class, and territorial inequalities inside industrial neighborhoods.

Article in Russian

DOI: 10.25285/2078-1938-2018-10-3-4-34

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