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Jan Kajfosz

Jan Kajfosz is Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology, University of Ostrava (Czech Republic) and Head of the Department of Theory and Research of the Contemporary Culture at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Silesia (Katowice, Poland). He holds a Habilitation in Ethnology (Cultural Anthropology) from the Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznan, Poland) and a PhD in Polish Philology from the University of Ostrava. His research interests concern folklore studies, critical discourse analysis, methodology of qualitative research, cognitive anthropology, borderlands, pop-culture and media, critical discourse analysis, and social strategies of persuasion. Selected publications include: Językowy obraz świata w etnokulturze Śląska Cieszyńskiego (Linguistic Image of the World in the Ethnoculture of Teschen Silesia), ProPrint, Czeski Cieszyn 2001; Magia w potocznej narracji (Magic in Popular Narration), Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego, Katowice 2009.

Neoliberalism, the Rise of New Media Folklore and the Emergence of New Nationalisms

The aim of the presentation is to define the difference between nationalisms of the modern era and new nationalisms. The proposition is methodologically based on the phenomenological and semiotic analysis of texts representing genres of new media folklore (e.g. hoaxes, conspiracy theories, Internet memes) spread within digital communicative networks as well as on the analysis of conditions of their production, consumption and reproduction. The author works with the notion of folklore developed by P.G. Bogatyrev and R. Jakobson. Drawing on them we can define folklore as a poetical text (cf. J. Mukařovský) aimed at la langue. Such text is broadly reproduced in many forms and versions or there is broadly reproduced its semantic structure within a communicative society e.g., a digital communication network. Folklore text seems to be an underestimated production and reproduction mean of ideology (A. Gramsci et al.).

The first question the author rises is what conditions shape the contemporary social production and reproduction of nationalisms compared to the era of modernity? There are some criteria which make the difference explicit – among them neoliberal cultural patterns and new media folklore as a sphere of collective presumption taking place beyond traditional (modern) social structures, hierarchies; beyond constraints of traditional institutions, i. a. classical (long time) authorities. The author examines two claims: firstly, the production of contemporary nationalisms often takes part beyond classical ideological state apparatuses, if to use the notion of L. Althusser. Secondly, new nationalisms conceptualize and define ‘threats’ and ‘enemies’ of the nation in different ways as modern nationalisms did. The way new nationalisms conceptualize and define ‘the Other’ is considered next. The author will provide the answer to the question, how concepts and claims relating to ‘the Other’ are legitimized within the new social networks, as well as what cognitive mechanisms, functioning under what circumstances, are responsible for these legitimization practices. The author shows attempts of proving that new nationalisms are based on the magical-mythical perception and thinking, he analyses e.g. the notion of ‘traditional Christian values’ within the genres of new media folklore.