Shagi / Steps the Journal of the SASH


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The transubstantiation of culture, or the Question of where to stick a toothpick in the Kolomna pastille museum

E. A. Melnikova
European University at St. Petersburg (Russia, St. Petersburg)

DOI: 10.22394/2412-9410-2022-8-4-276-302

Keywords: museums, heritage, culture, materiality, culinary tourism, cultural memory, urban environment

Abstract: The article analyzes the museums interactive program as a ritual of cultural production that allows it to transform the material substance of a gastronomic delicacy into a symbolically significant cultural artifact, and for the participants of this ritual to acquire cultural experience and taste history. Problematizing the existing approaches to the study of culture and starting from Annemarie Mols book on the body multiple, the author aims to analyze cultural production as an act of transubstantiation, through which culture becomes the result of making and acquires materiality, without losing at the same time its ephemeral properties. The paper is based on the materials of an ethnographic study in Kolomna, near Moscow, the appearance of which has significantly changed over the last decade, owing to the emergence of initiatives to create museums of Kolomna pastille and the establishment of pastille production according to ancient recipes. The author turns to the analysis of various forms of contestation of the status of new museums by employees of more traditional cultural institutions, and the boundaries set by various organizations for demarcation in the cultural sphere. Choosing a different perspective and considering one day in the life of a museum as a ritual of transubstantiation, the author offers a new approach to the analysis of cultural production.

Acknowledgements: This paper was completed as part of the project The Culture of Happiness: The Role of Cultural Institutions in the Personal Well-Being of Russian Citizens (Vladimir Potanin Foundation, Project No. SGM 59-19).
I express my sincere gratitude to all the informants who agreed to talk to me during my work in Kolomna, to the staff of museums and other cultural institutions that helped and supported me during the project. I also thank all the members of the research team who participated in the discussions and fieldwork, helping with advice, comments, and insights.

To cite this article: Melnikova, E. A. (2022). The transubstantiation of culture, or the Question of where to stick a toothpick in the Kolomna pastille museum. Shagi/Steps, 8(4), 276302. (In Russian). https://doi.org/10.22394/2412-9410-2022-8-4-276-302.