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Paul Gyllenhammer, Bruce Baugh, and Thomas R. Flynn

The articles in this section deal with two concepts from Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason analyzed in the work of Tom Flynn. The first is the practico-inert, the materialized result of human activity that can turn that activity against itself, but which can also take on a positive and progressive role in history. It is this progressive role that Paul Gyllenhammer analyzes. Bruce Baugh’s article looks at Flynn’s analyses of how, in the Critique, the “third” mediates group praxis in such a way that it moves from passivity to activity but without fusing into a hyperorganism, and how this decisive shift accounts for “the revolutionary moment.”

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To Smile and Not to Smile

Mythic Gesture at the Russia-China Border

Caroline Humphrey

are meant to cause ‘deep feeling’ to arise between people. In their correct suspicion that there is something political behind the Chinese gesture, they are all the more likely not to respond with a smile themselves. Mythic Mediators There is an

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Richard H. Weisberg

onto a mediator; he craves relief from the unavailing direct relationship to God, and he wishes to triangulate , to take the pressure off, to lay it all on someone else. This moment of weakness, however human Job’s search may be at this stage in his

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Diplomat, Landlord, Con-artist, Thief

Housing Brokers and the Mediation of Risk in Migrant Moscow

Madeleine Reeves

. Information is money!’ Sanjar rubbed his fingers together as though rustling dollars. This paper explores the work of keeping a roof over one’s head in the Moscow migrant economy as a domain that is at once highly mediated, saturated with social and ethical

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Staging Sassoun

Memory and Music Video in Post-Soviet Armenia

Rik Adriaans

’s List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In light of the current global proliferation of public memory practices, 4 in which mass mediated conceptions of national history circulate and compete for recognition with the mnemonic production

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Bjørn Schiermer

This article attempts to put forward new perspectives on solidarity in Durkheim's work, useful for an understanding of contemporary reality. First, it sketches why his modern 'cult of man' should be understood as an instance of mechanical solidarity, and discusses how to generalize this scenario and move beyond the idea of the 'cult of man' as mechanical solidarity's sole modern instance. Next, it investigates some of the shortcomings of Durkheim's diagnosis of modernity itself. This is in an effort to show how these shortcomings – reflected in his critique of the modern economy, his interactionism, his focus on the whole and his insensitivity to the ephemeral and aesthetic – led Durkheim to overlook the persistence of mechanical solidarity in the modern world and hindered him from developing the explanatory potential of his sociology of religion in a modern context. The article then explores the dynamic, decentred, 'individualized' and mediated nature of contemporary forms of collective formation by selectively extrapolating from the relation in Durkheim's work between the individual and the social. Finally, in returning to the question of mechanical solidarity in modern society, it outlines the contours of a concept of collective consciousness applicable to a modern setting.

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Urban Mediation and Mobility in Istanbul

A Media Conference Report

Dorit Müller

The European Network for Cinema and Media Studies (NECS) held its fifth annual conference “Urban Mediations” from June 24 to 27, 2010 in the European Capital of Culture 2010, Istanbul. A wide variety of scholars and researchers in the field of cinema, film, and media studies, but also archivists or film and media professionals were invited. The broad scope theme of “urban mediations” provided ample opportunity for extensive analysis and discussion of media and urbanity theories by the attendees. In more than 80 panels, with four talks each, various questions could be discussed. For example: How are city spaces represented and created in different media? What urban practices and aesthetics develop when using “media”? To what extent do new media forms influence future urban developments or make them possible in the first place? How does media shape city-human interaction?

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(Un)seen Seas

Technological Mediation, Oceanic Imaginaries, and Future Depths

Stephanie Ratté

Remote technologies and digitally mediated representations now serve as a central mode of interaction with hard-to-reach sea spaces and places. This article reviews the literature on varied scholarly engagements with the sea and on the oceanic application of technologies—among them geographic information systems, remotely operated vehicles, and autonomous underwater vehicles—that allow people to envision and engage with deep and distant oceanic spaces. I focus on the extension of a digital and disembodied human presence in the oceans and the persistence of frontier fictions, in which the sea figures as a site of future-oriented possibilities. Finally, I ask what the emphasis on “seeing” through technological mediation means for how we imagine vast spaces, and consider how these elements of the oceanic imaginary can be productively complicated by drawing attention to the materiality of the oceans and the scalar politics of dynamic spaces.

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The Grammars of 'Power'

Between Contestation and Mediation

Mark Rigstad

In light of the pragmatic aspirations of ordinary language philosophy, this essay critically examines the competing grammatical strictures that are often set forth within the theoretical discourse of 'power'. It repudiates both categorically appraisive employments of 'power' and the antithetical urge to fully operationalize the concept. It offers an attenuated defense of the thesis that 'power' is an essentially contestable concept, but rejects the notion that this linguistic fact stems from conflict between antipodal ideological paradigms. Careful attention to the ordinary pragmatics of power-language evinces the prospects for integrating various context-specific aspects of power and mediating between traditionally divergent theoretical frameworks.

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Katalin Eszter Morgan

Since the 1990s researchers have explored the design features of instructional texts from a Vygotskian sociocultural perspective. This article draws on their work in order to formulate analytical questions. Selected examples from four South African eleventh grade history textbooks are analyzed in an attempt to understand how the application of design principles, or the lack thereof, affects the potential mediating function of the text for historical learning as a whole. The relationship between visual processing and analytical and affective thinking is introduced to the discussion. The article concludes by commenting on the sociocultural context of textbook production.