Emiel Martens: Welcome to Paradise Island: The Rise of Jamaica’s Cine-Tourist Image, 1891-1951 (2004-2013)

Emiel Martens: Welcome to Paradise Island: The Rise of Jamaica’s Cine-Tourist Image, 1891-1951
University of Amsterdam, Department of Media Studies
Supervisor: Patricia Pisters
September 2004-September 2013

This thesis, for the first time, examines the history of film in Jamaica from the late nineteenth century through the first half of the twentieth century. It concentrates on how practices of (location) filming were connected to tourism and how they participated in the production of the island as a tropical paradise for Western tourism consumption. Emphasis is on the British and Hollywood film industries as empire cinemas and the Jamaican tourism industry as a nation-building project built on (neo)colonial dependency structures. While tourism, including film tourism, continues to be promoted as an important model for economic development for Jamaica, the reality beyond the “cine-tourist” image often tells a different story. Aligning his work with the spatial turn in media studies and the media turn in geographical studies, Emiel Martens uses archival research to present new data and perspectives on the early interwoven history of film and tourism in Jamaica.


Rafael Bienia: Narrative Fan Practices in Role-Playing Games (2011-2015)

Rafael Bienia:  “Narrative Fan Practices in Role-Playing Games”
NWO “Narrative Fan Practices. A Key to Cultural Dynamics”
Maastricht University, Department of Literature and Arts
Promotor, supervisor: Prof. Dr. Sally Wyatt, Dr. Karin Wenz
August 2011- 31 July 2015

At work and in free time, most of us communicate, share information, and make decisions often simultaneously in the physical and the digital. How do people make sense of their experiences? In my dissertation, I investigate the creative practices that a dedicated group of people has evolved in three different types of role-playing games: live action role-playing, augmented reality role-playing games, and tabletop role-playing games. In these games, participants imagine fictional roles to take control of a narrative they share with each other. While book readers follow the narrative as written down by the author, role players take over the author’s part to some extent. Moreover, in role playing participants share one common narrative and influence the experience of each other while ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ simultaneously. The difference between the three types is based on the game materials used to communicate within the narrative and share the decisions of the chosen roles. I have chosen Actor-Network Theory (ANT) to answer the question how role players create a stable network and how game materials influence narratives. As it is debatable whether ANT is a theory at all, another challenge in my work is to find a solution for this seeming dilemma.

Johannes von Engelhardt: Regarding the Pain of Others: Representations and Perceptions of Mediated Distant Suffering (2011-2016)

Johannes von Engelhardt: Regarding the Pain of Others: Representations and Perceptions of Mediated Distant Suffering

01-03-2011 – 29-02-2016
Erasmus University Rotterdam / Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture
Promotor: Prof. Dr. Jeroen Jansz

This project focuses on the mass media in their function of carrying stories and (audio-) visuals of suffering in developing countries into the lives of Western media audiences.

Much of the existing research in this field has focused on the way the media have portrayed human tragedies in times of imminent humanitarian disaster (e.g. the earthquake in Haiti) or long-term, structural large-scale suffering in the developing world (e.g. the HIV/Aids epidemic in Africa). Authors of these media representation studies often implicitly or explicitly assume certain effects of the coverage of suffering on audiences. However, surprisingly little actual empirical investigations can be found into audiences’ responses to and interpretations of mediated large-scale suffering. This project aims to fill part of this significant gap in the literature by looking into the ways in which Western audiences respond to and make sense of mediated human suffering in distant places.


Maarten Michielse: Rearticulating Sounds – Appropriating Popular Music Online (2011-2015)

Maarten Michielse: Rearticulating Sounds – Appropriating Popular Music Online

January 2011- January 2015
Maastricht University
Supervised by: Prof. Dr. Renée van de Vall (promotor), Dr. Karin Wenz

This project looks at how music enthusiasts appropriate popular music online by remixing, covering, and mashing-up popular songs and sharing these self-made products within online communities. The project uses a virtual ethnographic approach to look at how music enthusiasts produce their works, how they deploy, develop, and share all sorts of skills and competences, and how they use different tactics in order to be able to make these songs ‘their own’. While consumers always had the possibility to engage creatively with music, it is only since the last decade that the general availability of creative software and the networked computer has made it possible to produce, distribute, and share musical appropriations on a scale never seen before. Within the academic world, this process has often been framed in overarching theories such as “prosumption”, “participatory culture”,  or “read/write culture”. Although these frameworks help to understand the dynamic relationship between producers and consumers, they also bring along the risk of presenting participation as something that happens almost naturally and automatically. In other words: these theories make it easy to overlook the specific efforts, skills, and techniques consumers deploy in order to actually become producers. To gain a better understanding of these processes, this research project investigates the question: How do music enthusiasts appropriate popular music online and how do they share, develop, and discuss all sorts of musical and creative skills in the process?

Enis Dinç: Images of Atatürk: The Commemoration of the Turkish Past in Audiovisual Media (2012-2016)

Enis Dinç:  Images of Atatürk: The Commemoration of the Turkish Past in Audiovisual Media

1 September 2012- 1 September 2016
ASCA, University of Amsterdam
Promotores: Prof. Frank van Vree and Prof. Esther Peeren

The Turkish State has for decades acted as a gatekeeper to ensure state control over the way the Turkish Republican leader Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is portrayed in public media. The government authorizes only certain narratives, in which Atatürk is represented as a flawless political leader, a godlike father figure, and a secular/modern man. However, in the 1990s, Turkey found itself on the threshold of a shift from a state-controlled to a liberalized political economy, a shift with implications for the country`s cultural industries. The broadcasting system, which had functioned under the strict monopoly of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT), was transformed by the rapid explosion of commercial television channels, paving the way for a multi-vocal cultural environment. Because of this process, I will argue, the meta-narrative of official historiography constructed around the heroic image of Atatürk is now being challenged by new films and documentaries that represent him in alternative ways and, at the same time, propose other heroes.

In my research, I will examine the changes in the images of Atatürk and the involvement of visual media in the production of concepts of the “nation” and cultural memory. It is my contention that the transformation and manipulation of Atatürk`s media representation has important effects on the political and cultural life of Turkey, being a crucial element in the construction of national identity and political decision-making. I would argue that it is not only the different trends in Turkish government that modified the image of Atatürk but that this representation has also become an active element defining and framing the development of Turkish politics. Thus, it is my intention to investigate audiovisual images of Atatürk from his lifetime until the present in order to reveal this dialectical function of myth making for the Turkish state and society, and at the same time, to study the dynamics of practices of cultural memory, which may support or counter the official myth-making process.