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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.

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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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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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How Movements Are Mediated

The Case of the Hungarian Student Network in 2012–2013

Bálint Takács, Sára Bigazzi, Ferenc Arató and Sára Serdült

This article examines media representations of statements made by the 2012 student movement in Hungary. We analyzed a total of 138 articles from two main Hungarian online journals. We found that both outlets focused strictly on the movement’s specific claims about educational policy but neglected to report on the broader political-ideological claims that it made. The emphasized claims reflected the specific political agenda of each outlet, with both newspapers also framing events according to the outlook of Hungary’s dominant political establishment (Fidesz). We then traced the dialogue between the Hungarian government and the student movement over time. We found that the movement was the much more active partner in this dialogue. We coded the co-occurrences of psycholinguistic markers, testing perspective-taking as a requirement for dialogue. The results indicated that the dialogue was a pretense of negotiation from the government and ended with insignificant adjustments to its original plans.

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Mediating the Rural Ideal

The Australian Town in Twentieth-Century Travel

Louise Prowse

Australian country towns have always played a crucial role in rural tourism. But during the twentieth century, the role of the country town shifted from being a base from which to explore the rural ideal, to being the central destination in which to experience what the rural ideal had to offer. This research identifies cycles in the ways that country towns have been represented in tourist media throughout the twentieth century, from places facilitating rural travel for health, to sites of modern comfort and amenities, to destinations of historic rural charm and as sites to sample gourmet produce and cherry-pick aspects of rural life. Media images of rural travel produced by local tourism campaigns, regional collaborations and state tourism bureaus all point to a significant shift in how travelers partake in the rural ideal. They suggest that the country town became the central expression of the Australian rural ideal for the twentieth century tourist.

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Mediating Cultural Transfer

Tran Anh Hung's Films About Vietnam

Thong Win

The Scent of Papaya (Mùi đu đủxanh), 1993, Président Films, written and directed by Tran Anh Hung, starring Tran Nu Yên-Khê, Man San Lu, Thi Loc Truong.

Cyclo (Xich Lo), 1995, Les Productions Lazennic, Lumiere, La Sept Cinema, La SFP Cinema (Cinepix Film Properties 2006), written and directed by Tran Anh Hung, starring Le Van Loc, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Tran Nu Yen Khe.

I Come With the Rain, 2009, TF1 International, written and directed by Tran Anh Hung, starring Josh Hartnett, Tran Nu Yen Khe, Byung-hun Lee, Takuya Kimura, Shawn Yue.

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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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Paul Brodwin

The articles in this special issue tackle a problem at the heart of medical anthropology today—a problem that bedevils our methods, theoretical ambitions and public stance in the world. How should we rank the relative importance of local cultural meanings, on the one hand, and large-scale political and economic forces, on the other? That is, how should we train our sights on both culture and politics as we study the social contexts of suffering and apply our expertise to the worlds of policymaking and service delivery? How do we keep ‘culture’ and ‘politics’ in motion (and both are very broad analytical terms) without lapsing into one-sided analyses that champion the one term at the expense of the other? The following articles significantly advance the debate about such issues. They offer powerful theoretical models of the dialectic between culture-specific illness idioms and the operations of power that constrain people’s lives. They also re-think the very notion of culture in light of the complex networks—connecting individuals to nationstates, empires, NGOs, pharmaceutical firms and global capital—in which medical anthropologists increasingly work.

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Johan Wedel

This article focuses on efforts to overcome the divide between state legality and local practices. It explores a pragmatic effort to deal with witchcraft accusations and occult-related violence in customary courts among the Miskitu people in Eastern Nicaragua, taking into account both indigenous notions of justice and cosmology, and the laws of the state. In this model, a community court (elected by the community inhabitants and supported by a council of elders), watchmen known as ‘voluntary police’ and a ‘judicial facilitator’ play intermediary roles. Witchcraft is understood and addressed in relation to Miskitu cultural perceptions and notions of illness afflictions, and disputes are settled through negotiations involving divination, healing, signing a legally binding ‘peace’ contract, a fine, and giving protection to alleged witches. This decreases tensions and the risk of vigilante justice is reduced. The focus is on settling disputes, conciliation and recreating harmony instead of retribution.

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Instant Identity

Adolescent Girls and the World of Instant Messaging

Elaine O'Quinn

Shayla Theil Stern, Instant Identity: Adolescent Girls and the World of Instant Messaging. Mediated Youth Series. New York: Peter Lang Publishers.