Prof. Raya Morag Greeting

       

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

conventions.

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

Smart jubilee.

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