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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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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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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.

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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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To Smile and Not to Smile

Mythic Gesture at the Russia-China Border

Caroline Humphrey

This article examines the role of smiling as a performative gesture at the northeast border between Russia and China. It argues that the border is a place where ‘myth’ in the sense proposed by Roland Barthes is manifest in the comportment of people when they see themselves as representing the civilization of one side or the other. In this situation, smiling and not smiling are elements of particular communicative registers that enact political myths in life. Highly gendered, these agentive-performative gestures exist amid other functional and affective registers, which can override them. The article also discusses the ‘helpers’ who mediate in cross-border trade, whose image is also sometimes subject to mythic imagination.

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Richard H. Weisberg

As to the risks of what I call the ‘triangulation’ of both public power and private emotion, I extend my earlier treatment of ‘mediation’ in The Merchant of Venice to Measure for Measure, King Lear, Hamlet, and The Tempest, linking to them Shakespeare’s Sonnet 134. For Shakespeare, whether poet or playwright, a private triangulation of direct romantic obligation is as nettlesome as the public official’s similar behaviour – as when the Duke ‘outsources’ Viennese power to Angelo – and the results are quite as disastrous. The complex and highly legalistic sonnet concerns the triangulation of passion from the speaker to a friend. The beloved winds up ensnaring both through ‘the statute of [her] beauty’. The word ‘surety’ – used centrally in the poem and twice in Merchant – pinpoints, through the delegation to a third party of obligations otherwise charged directly to two committed parties, the underlying Shakespearean problematic.

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Living in a hybrid material world

Girls, ethnicity and mediated doll products

Angharad N. Valdivia

Drawing on a theoretical framework that combines Media Studies, Latina/o Studies, and Girls Studies with the concept of hybridity, I explore American Girl, Dora the Explorer, and Bratz—three mediated doll lines—as manifestations of an ethnic identity crisis that in turns generates a moral panic that seeks to return whiteness and conventional femininity to its normalized mainstream standing. Issues of production, representation, and reception of mediated doll lines illuminate both a synergistic marketing strategy and a contested reception of hybrid mediated dolls. As such, mediated doll lines can be productively examined as they are an excellent vehicle for understanding contemporary agendas over gender, age, class, and ethnicity.

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Khul‘ Divorce in Egypt

How Family Courts Are Providing a ‘Dialogue’ between Husband and Wife

Nadia Sonneveld

In the year 2000, Egyptian women were given the right to unilateral divorce through a procedure called khul'. Khul' became the source of much controversy in Egyptian society, and most judges interviewed by the author expressed a negative viewpoint when asked about it. Nevertheless, the introduction of the Family Court system in 2004, with the explicit aim of solving marital disputes through mediation and communication, has made possible a 'dialogue' between husband and wife in a khul' procedure. This applies even in situations where mediators and judges profess an unfavourable opinion of women who file for khul' divorce.

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Museum Mediators in Europe

Connecting Learning in a Field of Experience

Alice Semedo

Learning networks do not arise from nothing. They are born out of personal connections, exchanged conversations, constructed spaces, and shared visions. Other broader contexts (e.g., the theoretical contexts or funding policies available within a globalized economy) are also part of this landscape. The Museum Mediators in Europe course is one of such learning networks that came to be in 2013 with the aim of representing institutional and professional needs of mediation professionals in the European countries involved in this project: Portugal, Spain, Italy, Denmark, and Estonia. The project argues that a clearly defined set of best practices in museum education is called for and that leadership/mentoring programs for museum mediators should be utilized to foster professional learning communities within museums.