Ekaterina Kalinina: What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Media and Nostalgia?

Nostalgia is often understood as a syndrome and a therapeutic mechanism for healing traumatic past experiences, a retrospective utopia of safety and stability, or a revisionist project of rewriting history in a more user-friendly and appealing way. The literature also highlights different uses of nostalgic sentiments, such as their commercial and aesthetic applications, affective nature, material dimensions, and political relevance, among many others. Previous research has shown that media, popular culture and creative industries are the central platforms for nostalgic productions, which not only allow for creativity but also manipulate users’ attitudes towards the past and induce nostalgia in audiences. Such an abundance of perspectives and theories on nostalgia creates conceptual confusion. With this in mind, this essay aims at more clearly elucidating theories on nostalgia. As engagement with broader debates on the role of the media in nostalgic experiences has also been limited, this essay will provide some remarks on the relations between media and nostalgia.