Reinventing traditions: Rustic Banya in successful urban Russian lives
The aim of my master thesis is to explore the reasons for the reproduction of the tradition of rustic private Russian bathing or banya in contemporary Russia. In order to do that I conducted my field work in Russia. As a result I made a 33 minute documentary and wrote this thesis. The film and thesis captures how banya is experienced by a specific group of informants who has reinvented the tradition of Russian bath in relation to modern Russian realities. Finally this research reveals a transformation in the usage and perception of the banya tradition that has taken place in Russia in the last 30 years. One of the main findings achieved during the project is that my informants used banya as an arena where they experience a kind of timeout from various social responsibilities and duties imposed by their statuses. In the following pages, I reflect upon an idea that banya can also be interpreted as a socially constructed space where the practitioners have a unique kind of experience. Further analysis of this will bring me to a discussion about liminality, communitas, states of “peace and quiet” and states of lightness and happiness that might be experienced by the banya participants in one way or another. The thesis also argues that banya can be interpreted as an arena with strict rules for inclusion and exclusion or a kind of key club. The participants of this key club implicitly or explicitly take part into a process of identity negotiations and accumulation of their social capital.
ForlagUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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