Good afternoon everyone.
We have two great days ahead of us, but first is first, please join me in welcoming our
distinguished guest, Mrs. Mary Smart, the president of the Smart Family Foundation.
Mary, we are very grateful that you decided to make this journey and we are very
honored to have you with us. We are very fortunate as it is not always possible to meet
the people behind the scenes, those who through their efforts and generosity foster
development. Since 1978, the Smart Family Institute of Communications, supported by
the Smart Family Foundation, is the research and outreach arm of communication studies
at the Hebrew University. Through ongoing support for individual and group research
projects among faculty and research students, as well as the organization of symposia and
conferences, the Institute advances the study and understanding of communications in
general, and of Israeli media and culture in particular.
[You can see some reflections of these events, that took place throughout almost 40
years, on the screen behind me.]
We could not have done all these activities without your support, Mary. You and your
family’s generosity has been vital. An invaluable aid in promoting our research and our
most promising students.
I am happy and proud to tell the audience that after Mary’s visit here last November, we
corresponded and she enthusiastically agreed to donate a prize, the Smart Excellence
Awards, as a way to join the 50 anniversary of the department and to encourage and
recognize distinction and significant promise in scholarly work carried out by our best
doctoral students. So today we are celebrating the 2016 Doctoral-Student Awards for
Excellence Competition on behalf of Mrs. Smart.
The Smart academic committee received more than a few excellent applications, but the
two chosen stood out in their level of novelty, originality, clarity, and potential
contribution to the field.
The two winning students, who in a minute I will call to the stage, will each receive an
award of 6000$.
Please welcome the first winner, Maya de Vries. Maya's dissertation topic
is The Role of Social Media within Disadvantaged Communities in Intractable
Conflict Zones: the case study of Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Her work
attempts to understand how the use of social media
platforms might increase political participation both locally and globally among
Palestinians in East Jerusalem. It aims to delineate the practices, images, and
discursive frames used to mobilize discussion and activities promoting the
construction of civil and communal apparatuses of this marginalized population
embedded in a continuing asymmetric ethnopolitcal conflict. Maya’s current
project, entitled al_Aqsa_is_in_danger: the dual gatekeepers of al-Aqsa
Mosque, shows how two major Facebook pages fulfill a dual gatekeeping role,
both as digital gatekeepers—shaping the flow of information about the holy site,
and simultaneously as physical gatekeepers of al-Aqsa Mosque, calling their
local following to on-the- ground action and struggle.
Please welcome our second winner, Igor Rodin. Igor's dissertation topic is The
Econtology of Cinema: Seeing as Reading, and Reading as Writing. From Matter
to Sinthomaton via Lars von Trier’s Antichrist. Drawing on film theory,
postmodern philosophy, psychoanalysis, and eco-philosophy, Igor's work offers a
new approach to the reading of the moving image in which femininity is a key to
our understanding of our cultural world. Reading the cinematic text through the
lens of femininity and ecology, Igor proposes an alternative approach to the
cinema that, in opposition to the phenomenological taking for granted cinema as
the experience of the spectator, provides an attempt to take the reading of such
films as von Trier's Antichrist beyond the ‘anti-pleasurable’ experience of the
viewer, towards his creative horizons. His current projects, entitled Self-
Recreation through the Uncanny Encounter: Reading the Feminine Close-up in
Cinema and “Amour” and “Love”: On the Invention of the Concept of Love in
Cinema, explore the phenomenon of the feminine close-up and the question of
representation of femininity. Understanding the inability of femininity to find a
place within the phallocentric capitalistic culture is crucial to understanding the
complexity of cultural texts and to learning how to read them beyond cultural
In closing, I wish to thank you again, Mary, for your continued, faithful, encouragement;
for being with us, supporting our goals of learning, and opening new doors to our
students. The Smart Family Foundation has a significant impact on the Communication
department. And, as we say, Leshana ha'baah birushalayim!
Also, I wish to thank the Department of Communication & Journalism and especially its
head, Professor Ifat Maoz, for our long period of warm hearted collaboration, as well as
Prof. Paul Frosh, and Assif, the Smart Institute coordinator.
We have, so I hope, two days to engage in ethics, culture and history: new media,
communication technology, visual culture and cinema, and most of all – to enjoy our