Martin Štoll (2018) Television and Totalitarianism in Czechoslovakia: From the First Democratic Republic to the Fall of Communism. New York: Bloomsbury.
The story of Czechoslovak television is in many respects typical of the cultural and political developments in Central Europe, behind the Iron Curtain. Martin Štoll, with unprecedented access to the Military Historical Archives in Prague, provides contextual insights into the issues of introducing television in the whole Socialist Bloc (save China, Mongolia and Cuba), from the introduction of television broadcasting in Czechoslovakia in 1921 through to the 1968 occupation and the Velvet revolution in 1989 – encapsulating an important point in media history within two totalitarian states. Television and Totalitarianism in Czechoslovakia examines the variability of political interests as reflected on television in interwar Czechoslovakia, including Nazi research on television technology in the Czech borderlands (Sudetenland), the quarrel over the outcomes of this research as war booty with the Red Army, the beginning of the Czechoslovak technological journey, and, finally, the institutionalized foundation of Czechoslovak television, including the first years of its broadcasting as a manifestation of Communist propaganda. Revised and expanded from the Czech to include broader contexts for an English-speaking audience, Štoll expertly elucidates the historical, cultural, social, political, and technological frameworks to provide the first comprehensive study of the subject.
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Ulrike Notarp (2018) Lebenskonzepte und Lebensstile in West- und Ostdeutschland, der Tschechischen Republik und Polen. Dresden: Neisse Verlag.
Dieses Buch verdankt sich der Erfahrung, dass Menschen anderer Kulturen oftmals Verhaltens- und Kommunikationsweisen an den Tag legen, die einem seltsam erscheinen und die nur schwer zu verstehen sind. Ein zentrales Anliegen des Bandes ist es, solche kulturbedingten Besonderheiten durch systematische Beschreibung verständlich zu machen. Die Analyse von Kontaktanzeigen aus West- und Ostdeutschland, Tschechien und Polen erlaubte die Rekonstruktion kulturspezifischer Lebens- und Partnerschaftskonzepte sowie Lebensstile, die die Vorstellungen und Wünsche der Menschen im Hinblick auf Leben und Partnerschaft zum Ausdruck bringen. Hinter den Lebenskonzepten und Lebensstilen stehen Überzeugungen und Werthaltungen, die für deren kulturelle Spezifik in besonderem Maße verantwortlich sind.
This book is based on the experience that people from other cultures often show behavioral and communicative behaviors that seem strange and difficult to understand. A central concern of the book is to make such cultural specificities understandable through a systematic description. The analysis of personals from West and East Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland allowed for the reconstruction of the culturally-specific concepts of life and partnership, as well as of the lifestyles that express the ideas and desires of how people see life and partnership. The book argues that behind the life concepts and lifestyles, a set of beliefs and values can be found that are responsible for their cultural specificity.
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Švelch, Jaroslav (2018) Gaming the Iron Curtain. How Teenagers and Amateurs in Communist Czechoslovakia Claimed the Medium of Computer Games. Cambridge: MIT Press.
How amateur programmers in 1980s Czechoslovakia discovered games as a medium, using them not only for entertainment but also as a means of self-expression. Aside from the exceptional history of Tetris, very little is known about gaming culture behind the Iron Curtain. But despite the scarcity of home computers and the absence of hardware and software markets, Czechoslovakia hosted a remarkably active DIY microcomputer scene in the 1980s, producing more than two hundred games that were by turns creative, inventive, and politically subversive. In Gaming the Iron Curtain, Jaroslav Švelch offers the first social history of gaming and game design in 1980s Czechoslovakia, and the first book-length treatment of computer gaming in any country of the Soviet bloc.
Švelch describes how amateur programmers in 1980s Czechoslovakia discovered games as a medium, using them not only for entertainment but also as a means of self-expression. Sheltered in state-supported computer clubs, local programmers fashioned games into a medium of expression that, unlike television or the press, was neither regulated nor censored. In the final years of Communist rule, Czechoslovak programmers were among the first in the world to make activist games about current political events, anticipating trends observed decades later in independent or experimental titles. Drawing from extensive interviews as well as political, economic, and social history, Gaming the Iron Curtain tells a compelling tale of gaming the system, introducing us to individuals who used their ingenuity to be active, be creative, and be heard.
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Nico Carpentier (2017) The Discursive-Material Knot: Cyprus in Conflict and Community Media Participation. New York: Peter Lang.
The theoretical framework of the discursive-material knot consists out of a non-hierarchical ontology of the interactions of the discursive and the material, articulating the assemblages that are driven by this ontological setting as restless and contingent, sometimes incessantly changing shapes and sometimes being deeply sedimented. This book acknowledges the importance of discourse studies, in having produced a better understanding of the socio-political role of frameworks of intelligibility, and of materialism theory in highlighting the importance of the agentic role of materials. Still, the combination of the discursive and the material requires our attention in a much more fundamental way; that is where this book’s first platform aims to provide a contribution. These ontological-theoretical reflections are not produced in a void, but they are put to work in this book, first in platform two, which consists of a discursive-material re-reading of three theoretical fields, dealing with practices that are all highly relevant in contemporary democracies: participation, community media and conflict (transformation). Finally, in the third platform, this book turns its attention to a particular social reality, analyzing the logic of the discursive-material knot in the particular context of the Cyprus Problem. This case study fills a gap by bringing community media and conflict transformation together, through the analysis of the role of the Cyprus Community Media Centre (CCMC), and its webradio MYCYradio, in contributing to the transformation of antagonism into agonism. Deploying a discursive-material analysis to study the participation and agonization (and their articulation) in CCMC/MYCYradio shows the complexity and richness of conflict transformation processes, in combination with the importance of organizations such as CCMC/MYCYradio for the betterment of society.
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