Making Yasenevo a meaningful place: Symbolic construction, cultural production and stimulating local identities in a distant urban residential area of Moscow, Russia

Authors: Ivan Mitin*, National Research University Higher School of Economics
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Eurasia
Keywords: symbolic capital, cultural production, local identity, urban area, place branding
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Virtual 35
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Symbolic capital of cities is usually concentrated in their central areas. Distant residential areas lack tourist attractiveness, authentic urban environments and any (im)material basics of local identities. The locals are often not rooted in the districts they live in which makes both of them placeless.
Combining the ideas of the cultural landscape as being symbolically constructed, the methods of ‘making good regional description’ and creating a message through spatial mythologies, and regarding a post-urban place as created both through spatial representations and spatial social practices, I use a framework of ‘place as palimpsest’ in order to single out unique features of a standard distant residential area of Yasenevo in Moscow, Russia and describe the promotion of those features as the identifiers of an organic place brand by means of creative cultural production.
The results of a series of semi-structured interviews include a combination of interconnected spatial myths (‘Green area’, ‘Historical area’, ‘Young area’, ‘Semi-circled streets and houses’, ‘Soviet modernism architecture’, etc.). The promotion is aimed mainly at stimulating local identities, but also at making the place unique hence attractive, valuable and signified at full scale.
The experiences of making an exhibition ‘My Yasenevo’, arranging a festival of South-Western district of Moscow ‘YuZAO-fest’ in the Cultural Center “Vdokhnoveniye” and running a series of online excursion ‘My Yasenevo’ during the CoVID-19 self-isolation period are used as examples of brand promotion and community building through creative cultural production.

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