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Session Overview
RN18_01b_IC: Theatricalization, Contemporary Communication and Media Representations
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Romina Surugiu, University of Bucharest, Faculty of Journalism and Communication Studies
Location: Intercontinental - Aphrodite I
Athenaeum Intercontinental Hotel Syngrou Avenue 89-93 Athens, Greece Floor: Lobby Level

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Introduction: the symbolic importance of political theatricalization in contemporary communication

Christiana Constantopoulou

Panteion University Social and Political Sciences, Greece

Theatricalization is an important aspect of social life in general, of political life in particular. Aspects of the political scene and action are given in mass and new media discourse as well as in mass cultural productions (as “narratives” of the contemporary society). Given that people understand reality first of all on the symbolic level, the analysis of these narratives is an ideal approach of the meaning given to politics and communication nowadays: images of the economic crisis, of the migrants and/or refugees, of identities (given by media discourse or by mass cultural productions), constitute a basic imprint of the expressions of the current “social myths”. Examples of emblematic media events (ex. the oath of office of the President of the United States) and of the political “stories” narrated in TV serials (ex. The Man and the City, Women of the House, The West Wing, 24, The Good Wife) and cinema (ex. All the President's Men, Fahrenheit 9/1, The Contender, The ides of March) will be given in order to figure out this essential side of the contemporary political symbolization reflected in the social representations.

Race and class in German media representations of the ‘Greek crisis’

Yiannis Mylonas

Higher School of Economics, Russian Federation

Research showed that the mainstream media coverage of the EU’s economic crisis has been, not only offensive and prejudiced for the people of the countries most affected by it, but most crucially, utterly relying on elite understandings of the crisis, as articulated by the political and the economic establishment of the EU. Indeed, the hegemonic public framing of the Eurozone crisis followed an ‘Orientalist’ approach, through spectacular narratives stressing cultural and moral failures of ‘national characters’ and exceptional national institutions that are (supposedly) fundamentally different from the ‘European’ cannon. This way, regimes of exception were able to be publicly constructed as plausible explanations for the crisis (as a ‘self-inflicted’ problem by those not following the European norm), and equivalent exceptional policies (such as austerity regimes) to be implemented in the supposedly problematic countries. Drawing on the findings of previous research, this contribution presents the class and racist dimensions of the German mainstream media’s ‘Greek-crisis’ representations, by focusing on the crisis ‘epicenter’, Greece, a country relentlessly targeted and slandered by the German media and the German elites in particular. The chapter concludes that both in their light and in their serious versions, the German media publicly construct the so-called ‘Greek crisis’, in the line of the bourgeois and the post-democratic principles that are currently directing the EU.

Alone voice onstage at Russian media: subjectivation through bodily symbolism as avant-garde political discourse (Pavlensky's case)


University of Novosibirsk; Institute of Economics and Industrial Engineering (Siberian Branch of Rusian Academy of Science), Russian Federation

Understanding discourse as process of becoming of text in particular social context with the use of specific language, we consider the body and use of bodily symbolism as a corporal discourse – as the text produced by carrier of this body – which content is signifier that referring to the vital social and political issues which viewed as signifieds.

In situation when alternative (to main ideology) political speech practices are taboo in today's media or discredited due to supporting only legitimated ideology, the body (and a set of corporal words and phrases created by artist working with body as an object for statements) is becoming nearly only possibility for subject of political discourse to express its ideas, desires and protest.

Object of our study are bodily art practices of Russian artist and actionist Peter Pavlensky, who uses his naked body in the urban space, creating corporal statements of political order. His body discourse involves the use of body parts, material objects, as well as urban structures – which fits the body – endowed with sacred and the political value: Red Square, a psychiatric hospital, etc. Using the approach of Badiou, we will show how body discourse on politics separates from the dominant political discourse in the mainstream media. Kristeva theory allows us to understand how naked body and artist’s bodily work constitutes order of signifiers that media audience decodes as political statements. Corporal performance allow to subject, deprived of the right to speak, to use his body as language to become the subject of political discourse in artistic sensual way. Act of creation of body text becomes the act of political resistance.

Political Theater as „act of citizenship“ in urban public space. Madrid migrant household workers emplacing citizenship through creative protest

Lara Jüssen

University of Bonn, Germany

The latest upheavels of crisis capitalism made social movements resurge that enact, emplace and embody citizenship in powerful public articulations, as the Spanish indignad@s in 2011.

Latin American un/documented household workers in Madrid sell their care-work on a world market that canalizes them into the private household where they look after children and elderly, wash, clean, cook and manage the household. Embodied experiences of precarity are severed by rudimental labour laws, and live-in household labour in which isolation is pressing, as well as affects and affectedness through classist, sexist and racist discriminations. Social exchange in groups then provides empowerment, when ways to respond to discriminations are analysed.

Art’s resistive power (e.g. Rancière 2008) is particularly enacted, emplaced and embodied through political theater, especially when performed in urban public spaces. Then, the streets become cultural, political and poetic places of resistance and incites urban walkers to reconsider the cities’ scenery and resituate themselves as citizens (Carreira, Vargas 2010). Augusto Boal with his Theater of the Oppressed, later Legislative Theater, intended to animate people to develop political agency through theater (Boal 1989, 1998).

The Madrid activist collective “Territorio Doméstico” enacts public space interventions, as when they staged their “fashion walk of precarity” in Madrid’s public space in March 2011. Shortly after, household labour law was reformed, also due to the adoption of the ILO-Convention 189 little before. So, in order to visibilise work-placed realities of household labour, “Territorio Doméstico” actively and politically uses Madrid’s public streets and plazas for political performance and demonstration.

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