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Imagine Reality

Negotiating Comics with David B.'s Epileptic

Jörn Ahrens

With Epileptic, French comics artist David B. presents a graphic novel as innovative in style as it is experimental in content. In the foreground, Epileptic is an autobiographical tale about his youth overshadowed by his brother's suffering from epilepsy, but it is also the illustration of a dream-world. David B. consequently entangles the levels of reality, autobiography and dreamlike fantasy. Emphasised by the interaction of clear graphics with hard black-and-white contrasts and the use of surrealistic and medieval quotations, David B. presents a unique combination of art, narrative and abstraction.

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Contradictory Concepts

An Essay on the Semantic Structure of Religious Discourses

Lucian Hölscher

The widespread opinion among conceptual historians is that political concepts are always contested in their actual usage. Religious concepts in modernity are also not only contested; they are constructed on an ontological contradiction. They imply that the object to which they refer exists, and at the same time that it does not. I demonstrate this idea using four religious concepts: religion, God, the beyond, and spirit. I conclude with discussion on the reality status of religious concepts in modern historiography and religious studies.

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Introduction

The Digital Age Opens Up New Terrains for Peace and Conflict Research

Josepha Ivanka Wessels

The arrival of the Digital Age added a new way to preserve memories of war and conflict. These developments beg deeper reflection on the role of cyberspace and how memories of conflict have become publicly and collectively owned, shared and mediated in the digital space. Cyberspace offers a context for the deposit of digital memorials for victims and casualties of war from any adversary in a conflict. The final workshop in a three-part exploratory series entitled Virtual Zones of Peace and Conflict is the basis for this special section, which deals with digital memory. The three articles were selected because they reflect on the role of the Digital Age in peace and conflict studies, and specifically focus on the intersection between online (virtual) and offline (physical) realities and how cyberspace forms an enabling environment for digital memorializations.

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Edith Kauffer

Regions & Cohesion is proud to present two photographs by Edith Kauffer that are related to the journal’s special section on transboundary waters and river basins. The section includes three articles with focus on water issues at the border between Mexico and the United States in a context of scarcity, with bilateral agreements eventually contested and relatively tense. At the complete opposite of these realities, the following images show the heterogeneity of transboundary river basins at the Mexican borders, particularly in the case with Guatemala.

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Reality is What You Can Get Away With

Fantastic Imaginings, Rebellion and Control in Terry Gilliam's Brazil

Ben Wheeler

It is my intention here to explore the fictional and non-fictional texts that may have informed (or are at least isomorphic to) the sentiments articulated in this seminal dystopian film. The film centres on the struggles of protagonist Sam Lowry (Jonathon Pryce), a cog in the impersonal machinery of the bureaucracy that governs Brazil's society who desires anonymity within consensus reality, but in his dreams is a winged warrior fighting noble battles with symbolic adversaries. Sam finds he is increasingly unable to successfully reconcile or differentiate these paradoxical existences as they begin to bleed into one another throughout the film.

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David Wildermuth

By most accounts, the March 2013 television event Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter (UMUV) marks an important milestone in the evolving cinematic treatment of the Third Reich, World War II, and the Holocaust. Winner of the Goldene Kamera for best television film of 2013, UMUV could boast such positive reviews and sensational viewer ratings as few other television films in the almost seventy-year existence of the Federal Republic. Frank Schirrmacher, co-editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, credited the film with ushering in “a new phase of the cinematic-historic treatment of National Socialism,” specifically praising Nico Hofmann, the film’s producer, for his “seriousness, attention to detail, and uncompromising” approach to the film. The Süddeutsche Zeitung praised it as “epochal” and “awaking the war in its entire monstrosity.” Der Spiegel lauded the film as “a new milepost of German cultural remembrance,” for posing “the most important [entscheidende] question for those born after: “how would I have acted?” Even Martin Schulz, the German president of the European Parliament, weighed in on the film, praising the film’s emphasis on the subjective perspectives of the protagonists. His argument for the innate power of the cinematic medium over the written word was echoed by screenwriter Stefan Kolditz, who asserted that the film—like all films—represents, “condensed reality.”

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Strange Tales from the Road

A Lesson Learned in an Epistemology for Anthropology

Yoshinobu Ota

Anthropology, with its deep commitment to fieldwork, has produced, through the dialectics of learning and unlearning, a contradictory self-understanding of the nature of the knowledge it has produced: one that is driven by a search for certainty, on the one hand, and by a desire for surprise, on the other. This article narrates a genealogy of anthropological perspectives that derive from the latter desire, the one that aims to undermine constantly that which is taken for granted. It shows how this perspective—often underappreciated these days in places where anthropological knowledge has been required to legitimate itself on an activist ground—has affected the way in which the author, a Japanese anthropologist, understands his fieldwork experience in Guatemala.

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To Dream, Perchance to Cure

Dreaming and Shamanism in a Brazilian Indigenous Society

Waud H. Kracke

Drawing on his extensive psychoanalytic ethnographic work among the Parintintin Indians of Brazil, the author discusses the place of dreaming in Parintintin shamanism. In this culture, dreams are spiritually significant, and there are traditional modes of interpreting them. While dream interpretation was formerly the province of shamans, even ordinary people are considered to have the capacity to use dreams to predict events and sense feelings directed toward them. The article deals primarily with the dreams of an informant who was not a shaman but had an intense interest in this practice. Because his birth had not been 'dreamed' by a shaman, he was not considered to be one; nevertheless, he experienced in dreams the cosmic journey of a shaman. While the informants' dreams manifest yearnings in what could be considered stereotypical forms, the author finds that they do express personal meanings and reflect intimate, unconscious wishes.

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Dennis Klein

This article looks at the significance of local circumstances, including direct encounters between victims and assailants, in the genocide process. In what scholars term “the micropolitical turn in the study of social violence,“ the argument here considers the encounter from the perspectives of both constituent parties. Assailants often acted before they thought, raising questions about the premise of intention and calculation that anchors the defining Article 2 in the United Nations Genocide Convention. Victims in local encounters express in their accounts a recognition of their assailants and describe what amounts to a betrayal of the trust they invested in their compatriots. Expressions of recognition in witness accounts attenuate victims' resentment and recrimination, opening a space that permitted possibilities for postgenocide reconciliation and even qualified forgiveness.

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Steven Matthews

I take it that, when thinking through notions of literature and history in the Thirties, and of the Thirties text in history, it is essential to look at the ways in which the text has become established within historical narratives of the Thirties, as well as the relationship to history which the text seeks to establish for itself. For the two seem curiously interwoven in the subsequent formulations of the distinctiveness of the period, whereby claims made in the Thirties find their absolute echoes in later narratives of its ideas and patternings.