Work, Kayfabe and the Development of Proletarian Culture: Professional Wrestling as Potential Proletkult

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Abstract

Analogies between politics and pro-wrestling have a long pedigree and are almost always meant negatively. What if, however, pro-wrestling is standing on its head in such analogies and must be turned right side up again? Building off arguments presented by Warden, Chow and Laine, this article argues that when approached as a specific form of embodied labor, embedded within the industry-specific performance convention known as kayfabe, a truer political analogy might compare pro-wrestling with the Proletkult, the cultural organization born amidst the 1917 Russian Revolutions to develop a new “proletarian culture” and usher in a socialist society. This is not to claim pro-wrestling offers a modern-day mirror of the historical Proletkult. Rather, drawing upon the work of Alexander Bogdanov, the leading intellectual force behind the Proletkult, this identifies pro-wrestling’s latent potential to act as an anti-hierarchical, egalitarian organizational form able to platform human creativity with the goal of developing proletarian culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-37
Number of pages21
JournalProfessional Wrestling Studies Journal
Volume3
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Proletkult
  • Proletarian Culture
  • Alexander Bogdanov
  • professional wrestling
  • Body Work
  • Kayfabe

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