Magazine article European English Messenger

Cultural Heritage and Food-New Media Narratives-New Meanings and New Identities

Magazine article European English Messenger

Cultural Heritage and Food-New Media Narratives-New Meanings and New Identities

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The immense growth of new media at the beginning of the 21st century has caused substantial changes in the old media, both in their forms and their contents. In the last two decades, food as a cultural phenomenon has become one of the most visible narrative categories in discourses of the old and new media. The space provided to various elements related to food has been enormous and is still growing. Researchers in various academic fields have begun examining the relations between culture, food and media consumption and addressing questions connected to the role food plays in the creation of meaning in contemporary media narratives.

The study of how the meaning of food is constructed, presented and interpreted reflects the recent developments in cultural studies methodologies, marked by the end of postmodernism and emergence of a postmillennial sensibility. Numerous concepts include the 'post-postmodem' era, with an intensification of postmodern capitalism and an increasing influence of the economic sphere on everyday cultural life hypermodernity, digimodernism, and automodernity, they all focus on the role of digital technologies and consumerism in the contemporary transformations of human relations and cultural production. According to cultural theorists Vermeulen and van den Akker (2010), categories such as altermodern, performatism, postvictimary discourse could be incorporated in the term metamodernism, which may be used as an umbrella term for such diverse cultural practices as digitalization of textuality, creolization of arts and performatism. Vermeulen and van den Akker (2010) believe that metamodernism finds its "clearest expression in an emergent neoromantic sensibility [...] in the return of the Romantic, whether as style, philosophy or attitude". They see its reflection in the works that replace postmodernist rationalism (sarcasm, indifference, ironic deconstruction) with the perspective of childlike naivety and a desire for metaphysical truths, and the postmodernist focus on pastiche and parody with the tropes of the irrational (nature, the primitive, sublime, mysterious). According to them, the metamodern sensibility "can be conceived of as a kind of informed naivety, a pragmatic idealism", that is characteristic of cultural responses to recent global events such as climate change, the financial crisis, political instability, and the digital revolution. They also assert that "the postmodern culture of relativism, irony, and pastiche" (ibid.) is over, having been replaced by a post-ideological condition that stresses engagement, affect, and storytelling.

2. Cultural identity and cultural heritage

The concepts that have gradually become dominant in linking the new cultural practices of metamodernism are those of cultural identity and cultural heritage. Cultural theorists at the beginning of the new millennium claim that the concept of cultural identity acquires broader meaning and more prominent status in various spheres of individual and group existence. Notions of self-identification, self-consciousness, self-definition and belonging appear on a scene which is, on the one hand, under the influence of globalisation and, on the other hand, it frames identity not only within national, but more often within regional and local perspectives. The end of the twentieth century geopolitical changes has not only resulted in the creation of a new map of Europe and its fading borders, but it has also redefined many nation states and created more culturally diverse societies within the new Europe. People in these revised states and societies feel the need to determine who they are, where they come from, and where they belong. Consciously or unconsciously, they read texts in order to find out answers about their identity, belonging, social status, etc. What they need is much more than simple symbols like flags, anthems, or coats of arms in order to understand, present and represent their new identity or identities. …

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