Kulturellt slitage

Orvar Löfgren
Etnologiska institutionen, Lunds universitet, Sweden

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Ingår i: Kulturstudier i Sverige. Nationell forskarkonferens

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 15:2, s. 21-29

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Publicerad: 2005-12-30


ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


During the last decades cultural analysis have focused a lot on processes of culture in the making; on the move. The production of newness has been a central theme. This paper explores the rather neglected study of cultural ageing; the everyday microphysics of cultural wear and tear. The starting point is a visit to an old decaying farm house; where all kinds of physical and biological processes slowly are turning the building into a ruin. Ruins like this one tend to be very culturally productive. There is a fascination of decay that runs through Western history – in changing forms. Often it is filtered through romantic feelings of nostalgia and loss; but there are also more mixed feelings that settings like these may produce. But a site like this old farm could also be used to explore the micro-processes of ageing. For a natural scientist this is simply a laboratory where a number of transformations can be observed. What would happen if we borrowed from this rich terminology to explore forces of cultural ageing and explored questions of cultural corrosion; erosion or crystallization? Can a cultural phenomena; an object; an idea; a routine or a symbol fade; rot; collapse? Cultural wear and tear varies in speed and scope. How is it that I all of a sudden view a theoretical concept; a shirt or the family car with different eyes? All of a sudden it emerges as something unfashionable or tacky; something you are ready to discard; to get rid off. Most cultural phenomena have a life cycle that makes them fade; loose their attraction or usefulness; or turn tacky; the striking thing is only that the rhythm or tempo of such cycles vary a lot. Some phenomena age very rapidly; others hardly at all. The paper argues that our use of metaphors and concepts of cultural ageing often are fetched from the material world or the arenas of fashion and that this limits our understanding of the complexities of cultural wear and tear.

Även publicerat i Rig 2005:3.


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