«Yaptik-City»: a northern community in search of identity

Agapov M.G. (Tyumen, Russian Federation)


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The paper analyses the collective cultural representations (identities) of local communities, as well as the methods of framing and narrative coding of the social world in Northern rural communities. The research is based on the author's fieldwork conducted in the Yamalsky District of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug in JulyAugust, 2017 and April, 2018. The basic theoretical approach employed is an ethnographic version of the Theory of Local Texts. A model of the sign-textual environment of the Northern rural community (sender form of speech addressee) is proposed, which specifies communication levels and respective identity formulas. This model has allowed the manifestations of official and lower identity politics to be determined. With regard to the dynamic aspect, the sign-textual environment of a Northern rural community presents itself as a constantly unfolding polylogue between «producers» of meanings who have different, varying in power, interests and positions. Each position correlates with a certain form of expression (official billboard, artistic street art, graffiti) and narrative strategy. Visualization of local identity formulas, the professional brand of a community and the formation and development of a presentation «clip» (graphic promotional merchandise) characteristic of Northern communities enriches their cultural landscapes and opens new channels for self-identification and self-expression to its members. In the second part of the research, the paper presents a case study, which is aimed at analysing an actual case of producing a local text in a typical Northern community «under the patronage», the Novy Port settlement. The paper reveals interaction mechanisms between the main subjects of local text production: «Chief» companies, Administrations, painters and local citizens. At the end of the paper, it is concluded that the collective cultural representation of a place results from a situational compromise between «producers of meanings». In other words, the identity of a Northern community is not merely something given that demands expression, but rather a «negotiated» construction recorded here and now. In a wider time perspective, it is only one of possible methods for the framing and narrative coding of social experience and social world by individuals connected to this place.


Key words: local text, identity, Yamal, northern community, street art, graffiti.


DOI: 10.20874/2071-0437-2018-42-3-181-191




M.G. Agapov

Tyumen Scientific Centre of Siberian Branch RÀS, Malugin st., 86, Tyumen, 625026, Russian Federation