The Discursive-Material Knot

Cyprus in Conflict and Community Media Participation

by Nico Carpentier (Author)
Textbook XVIII, 472 Pages

Table Of Content

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • Advance praise for The Discursive-Material Knot
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Figures
  • Acknowledgments
  • Earlier Publications
  • The Introduction of a Triptych
  • Notes
  • Platform 1
  • Chapter 1: Reconciling the Discursive and the Material—A Knotted Theoretical Framework
  • 1 The Discursive
  • 2 Discursive Structures
  • 3 Agency
  • 4 The Material
  • 4.1 Discourse Theory’s Relationship to the Material
  • 4.2 Machines as Entry Points Into the Material
  • 4.3 Proto-Machines and Architectures
  • 4.4 Bodies
  • 4.5 Organizational Machines
  • 5 The Two Dimensions and Their Knotted Relationships
  • 5.1 The Agency Component
  • 5.2 The Material Component
  • 5.3 The Structure Component
  • 5.4 The Discursive Component
  • 6 From High Theory to Research: About Sensitizing Concepts
  • Notes
  • Platform 2
  • Chapter 2: Participation, Community Media, and Conflict (Transformation)
  • 1 Defining Participation—A Political (Studies) Approach
  • 1.1 The Two Main Approaches Towards Participation
  • 1.2 Access, Interaction, and the Minimalist/Maximalist Dimension of Participation
  • 1.3 Participation and the Discursive-Material Knot
  • 1.3.1 Participation and discourse
  • 1.3.2 The material component of participation
  • 2 Defining Community Media Organizations
  • 2.1 Serving the Community
  • 2.2 Alternativity
  • 2.3 Part of Civil Society
  • 2.4 Part of the Rhizome
  • 2.5 The Community Media Assemblage as a Discursive-Material Knot
  • 3 Conflict and Community Media
  • 3.1 Defining Conflict, Antagonism, and Agonism
  • 3.2 Conflict Transformation
  • 3.2.1 Conflict resolution and transformation
  • 3.3.2 Bringing discourse theory into the equation
  • 3.2.3 Antagonism, agonism, and conflict transformation
  • 3.2.4 Antagonism, agonism, and the discursive-material knot
  • 3.3 Community Media, Diversity, Dialogue, and Agonism
  • Notes
  • Platform 3
  • Chapter 3: The Cyprus Conflict
  • 1 A Contextual Analysis of the Cyprus Problem
  • 2 A Brief Historical Overview of the Cyprus Problem
  • 2.1 Cyprus in the Ottoman Empire
  • 2.2 The British Period
  • 2.3 The Independence War and the Independence of Cyprus
  • 2.4 The Return to Violence After Independence
  • 2.5 After 1974
  • 3 Discourses and Materialities of the Cyprus Problem
  • 3.1 On Nationalism—A Discursive-Material Re-Reading
  • 3.2 Nationalisms in Cyprus
  • 3.3 The Rise of Antagonistic Nationalism
  • 3.4 The Annan Plan and the Continued Hegemony of Nationalism
  • 3.5 Post-Antagonist Nationalism in Cyprus?
  • Notes
  • Chapter 4: CCMC as a Participatory and Agonistic Assemblage
  • 1 Introducing the CCMC and MYCYradio Case Study
  • 1.1 A Reflection on Discursive-Material Analysis (DMA)
  • 1.2 About the CCMC Data
  • 1.2.1 The transversal ethnographic and participatory research phases
  • 1.2.2 The research project’s two main stages in more detail
  • 2 CCMC, MYCYradio, and Participation
  • 2.1 The Discourse of Participation and MYCYradio’s Identity
  • 2.1.1 Production and content analysis
  • 2.1.2 The reception analysis of the three MYCYradio shows
  • 2.2 Material Participatory Practices
  • 2.2.1 Access
  • 2.2.2 Interaction
  • 2.2.3 Participation
  • 3 CCMC, MYCYradio, and Conflict Transformation
  • 3.1 MYCYradio’s Agonistic Signifying Practices as Contribution to Conflict Transformation
  • 3.1.1 Production and content
  • 3.1.2 The reception of the three radio shows
  • 3.2 Material Agonistic Practices
  • 4 A Concluding Reflection on the Articulation of Participation and Agonism
  • Notes
  • References
  • Index

| ix →


Figure 1: Approaches to discourse

Figure 2: An elliptical model of human practices

Figure 3: A model of the signifier and its relation to the material and the discursive

Figure 4: An elliptical model of text-related practices

Figure 5: Organizational characteristics

Figure 6: The ‘overview’ of the discursive-material knot

Figure 7: The agency component and its relations

Figure 8: The material component and its relations

Figure 9: The structure component and its relationships

Figure 10: The discursive component and its relations

Figure 11: The four theoretical approaches towards community media

Figure 12: Serving-the-community approach key subject positions—a traditional view

Figure 13: Serving-the-community approach key subject positions—an alternative view

Figure 14: The key identities and subject positions of the alternative media approach

Figure 15: Civil society and community media as rhizome

Figure 16: Community media’s materiality ← ix | x →

Figure 17: Discourses and practices according to Demmers

Figure 18: Nodal points of antagonism and agonism

Figure 19: The palm tree model of antagonism and agonism

Figure 20: Mausoleum to the Cypriot national martyrs of July 9th 1821, Nicosia

Figure 21: The statue of Makarios of Kyrenia in front of the archbishop’s palace, Nicosia

Figure 22: Entrance of the EOKA struggle (1955–1959) commemoration site in Avgorou

Figure 23: One of the Kokkinotrimithia detention camp barracks

Figure 24: Liberty statue in Nicosia

Figure 25: Paphos gate fortifications in Nicosia

Figure 26: The Grivas statue next to his grave in Limassol

Figure 27: Entrance of the House of the Missing in Pyrga, with Michalis Papadakis’s statue

Figure 28: The Isaak and Solomou memorial inside the EOKA struggle (1955–1959) commemoration site in Avgorou

Figure 29: Buffer Zone sign with OBZ graffiti

Figure 30: The Nikolaos Katalanos statue in Nicosia

Figure 31: The Balkan War Dead memorial in Limassol

Figure 32: Damaged Kavazoğlu and Misiaoulis statues near Athienou

Figure 33: Victory monument in Famagusta (near Varosha)

Figure 34: Varosha seaside view

Figure 35: The CCMC building

Figure 36: Primary sensitizing concepts in and outside discourse studies—four variations

Figure 37: The specific articulation of discourse-theoretical analysis’ primary sensitizing concept

Figure 38: The primary and secondary sensitizing concepts of discourse-material analysis

Figure 39: Sensitizing concepts: Levels, definitions, and usages

Figure 40: The 17 interviewed radio show guests

Figure 41: Overview of the 13 fragments used in the focus group discussions

Figure 42: Overview of the 10 focus groups

Figure 43: Socio-demographics of the focus group respondents

Figure 44: Voting behavior of the focus group respondents

Figure 45: Fan art on the Downtown Choris Bakira Facebook page

Figure 46: The CCMC room with a view

| xi →


Many people have been involved in this research project. Usually the most significant persons are kept to the end, but in this case I want to thank Vaia Doudaki first, as her help has been so indispensable. Also a number of other academics working in Cyprus and/or in Belgium have helped me a lot: Christophoros Christophorou, Tao Papaioannou, Karin Nys, Aysu Arsoy, and Tony Maslic should be mentioned here. The Cyprus University of Technology, and in particular the Department of Communication and Internet Studies has been most hospitable and supportive and I want to thank all my colleagues there, but in particular Stelios Stylianou, Angeliki Gazi, Yiannis Christidis, Yorgos Zotos, Nicolas Tsapatsoulis, Dimitra Milioni, Vasiliki Triga, and Venetia Papa. Also the old and new (PhD) researchers of the Cyprus Community Media Research Programme, Christiana Voniati, Derya Yüksek, Hazal Yolga, Orestis Tringides, and Nicolas Defteras, have helped me with my work on this project.

This project also had a group of people providing more direct support, as mappers, translators, or transcribers. Here I want to thank Christos Petrou, Ani Elmaoğlu, Charalampos Rizopoulos, Erini Avraam, Konstantina Neofytou, and Angeliki Boubouka for their work. A special thank you goes out to Nicolas (I only know his first name), who became our driver when our car broke down on a field trip in the Machairas Mountains. ← xi | xii →

At the very end of this research project, I was fortunate to be able to organize two editions of a photography exhibition, entitled ‘Iconoclastic Controversies,’ reporting on a spin-off research project on nationalism. This project involved a large team of people, who did a wonderful job in putting this exhibition together, and I want to thank Helene Black, Yiannis Colakides, Eva Giannoukou, Yiannis Christidis (again), Fatma Nazli Köksal, Stella Theocharous, Nadia Kornioti, Shirin Jetha, and Christos Mais for the great job they did.

Also, staff and volunteers, former and current, at the CCMC were of great help, and I could not have completed this project without them. It is a group of people that proves on a daily basis that community media are possible. My warmest thanks to Michael Simopoulos, Orestis Tringides, Hazal Yolga, Natalie Konyalian, Larry Fergeson, Sarah Malian, Beran Djemal, Katherine Kotsireas, George Andriotis, Yiannis Ioannou, Yiorgos Kakouris, Doğukan Müezzinler, and Nicoletta Christodoulou. Also, my thanks to Seán Ó Siochrú, who briefed me on the period when CCMC was established.

Another group of people to thank are the participants of a PhD course at Helsinki University, who got to work with a first draft of this book, and who provided me with valuable feedback. They are: Jose Antonio Canada, Timo Juhani Harjuniemi, Ida Hummelstedt-Djedou, Laura Maria Huuskonen, Kamilla Mari Karhunmaa, Johanna Maria Kronstedt, Anastasia Orlova, Katarina Melica Elisabet Pettersson, Kinga Natalia Polynczuk-Alenius, Justyna Maria Pierzynska, Sehlem Sebik, Marko Tapani Stenroos, Tuure Johannes Tammi, Terhi Varonen, Satu Maarit Venäläinen, Yan Wang, and Ziyu Wang.

At the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), three people in the university administration and management, Erez Shimel, Kim Ongena, and Mieke Gijsemans, proved to be rock-solid and patient, and I am grateful to them for both characteristics. At the more institutional level, I also want to express my appreciation for the sabbatical grant provided by the VUB-OZR Research Council, for the research grant (G016114N) provided by the FWO, the Research Foundation—Flanders, and for the writing-up time provided by Uppsala University.

Finally, as always, the responsibility for any mistakes made in this book is solely mine, and not that of the people I thanked here. And, my apologies to the people I should have thanked here, but somehow, for inexplicable reasons, forgot … ← xii | xiii →

Earlier Publications

A number of texts, already published elsewhere or in the process of being published, have been used in this book, although their presence has become virtually invisible through their integration in the book’s narrative. A first cluster of publications are related to discourse studies. This list includes the book chapter ‘Deploying Discourse Theory’ (Carpentier, 2010), the journal article ‘Discursive Structures in the Network Society’ (Carpentier, 2012), and the book chapter ‘The Trinity of Decidedness, Undecidedness and Undecidability’ (Carpentier, 2016b). Forthcoming are the two following book chapters: ‘Discourse’ in the Keywords in Media Studies book, edited by Laurie Ouellette and Jonathan Gray, and published by NYU Press; and ‘Discourse-Theoretical Analysis (DTA)’ in the Handbook of Critical Discourse Studies, edited by John Flowerdew and John E. Richardson, and published by Routledge.

A second cluster deals with participation and community media, and includes six texts that have already been published: The book Media and Participation (Carpentier, 2011); the book chapters ‘The Identity Constructions of Media Professionals’ (Carpentier, 2013a), ‘Reality Television’s Construction of Ordinary People’ (Carpentier, 2014b), ‘Facing the Death of the Author’ (Carpentier, 2014f), ‘Power as Participation’s Master Signifier’ (Carpentier, 2016c), and the journal article ‘Beyond the Ladder of Participation’ (Carpentier, 2016a).

A third and final cluster are the texts relating to Cyprus and CCMC. This list includes the book chapter ‘Ethics, Killing and Dying’ (Carpentier, 2014d) and the journal articles ‘Community Media for Reconciliation,’ co-authored with Vaia Doudaki (Carpentier & Doudaki, 2014); ‘The Cypriot Web Radio MYCYRadio as a Participatory Mélange’ (Carpentier 2014a); ‘“Fuck the Clowns From Grease!!” Fantasies of Participation and Agency in the YouTube Comments on a Cypriot Problem Documentary’ (Carpentier, 2014c), and ‘Articulating Participation and Agonism’ (Carpentier, 2015a). Two book chapters are still forthcoming: ‘Moulded in Bronze’ and ‘Afterword: Studying Conflicts in Cyprus,’ both of which will be published in the edited volume Cyprus and Its Conflicts: Representations, Materialities and Cultures, edited by Vaia Doudaki and Nico Carpentier, and to be published by Berghahn. Also, the journal article ‘Visual Sociology as a Tool to De-Naturalize Nationalism: A Case Study on Greek Cypriot Memorials,’ authored by Nico Carpentier, Vaia Doudaki, Yiannis Christidis, and Fatma Nazli Köksal is still forthcoming.

| 1 →


It is unusual to refer to a book as a triptych. The concept of the triptych is often associated with the world of painting, and eras that have long since passed. It may even suggest an old-fashioned mind-set and/or an outdated perspective. Nevertheless, the allocation of such a prominent role to the concept is intentional, because it is vital for describing and understanding this book’s intellectual project. A triptych consists of three panels that have a certain degree of independence but that are also part of a whole. These panels are three interdependent representations of reality, and that is exactly what this book aims to do, by creating three different platforms, bound together in one book.

This notion of the platform is equally helpful in explaining the approach that is used in this book. Inspiration has been found in Deleuze and Guattari’s (1987) A Thousand Plateaus, although my book is a more modest version, with its ambition to offer only three platforms, and not a thousand. Still, the idea that each platform has a degree of independence, and can be accessed on its own right, remains, and the reader is invited to find her or his own way through the book. This independence is generated through the diversity of issues that are raised in the three platforms, and the different levels of abstraction that characterize them. At the same time, these platforms are still interconnected, articulated in one book, connected through the materiality of the paper on ← 1 | 2 → which the book is printed (or of the e-file by which it is distributed), but also by their alignment in the same research project. The three platforms came to fruition together, cross-fertilizing and affecting each other, talking to each other, and sometimes giving the author an idea of their collective agency, with one platform making demands on the other platform (luckily still requiring the author’s intervention). In a slightly more down-to-earth version: The interconnection of the three platforms is generated and protected by the iterative-cyclical methodology deployed throughout the entire research project. Whatever version is preferred: The collective genesis of the three platforms binds them together, in a more intimate way than the platform metaphor, or the book’s unavoidably linear way of writing, might suggest, even when the three platforms continue to claim their independence, inviting to be read in their own right.

What unifies these platforms, and characterizes this book, is a choice for a radical combination of theory and empirical research. This implies, first of all, a very strong presence of high theory, and the high levels of abstraction that coincide with high theory. Moreover, the book consistently uses the constructionist paradigm, and is deeply invested in post-structuralist theory, both of which have a tendency to come across as more abstract (even though I would contest this, as the sense of abstraction is also influenced by conceptual familiarity). In particular, the first platform, with its discussion of the ontology of the discursive-material knot, might give the reader the feeling of being catapulted into an orbit around the planet, finding herself, or himself, in the position of reading a text that is disconnected from the realities of everyday life. Again, this needs to be contested. The production of high theory in itself is of crucial importance, even if it does not immediately serve empirical research. Also, the first platform—with its ontological focus—speaks clearly about, and to, our world, in the most fundamental way possible. But Platform 1 does even more: It also prepares the ground for a series of theoretical re-readings of very different, but still very needed, theoretical concepts, from a variety of fields, namely, participatory theory, community media theory, conflict theory, conflict resolution/transformation theory (all in Platform 2), and theories of nationalism (in Platform 3).

But these theoretical reflections, as found in Platform 1, were not produced in a void. A radical combination of high theory and empirical research implies a confrontation between this high theory and a specific social reality, where the latter is entitled to talk back to the theory, to challenge, alter, and enrich it. Even if the data are always mediated through theoretical frameworks, this ← 2 | 3 → does not mean that these theoretical frameworks should be given the right to colonize a social reality, impose themselves upon it and smother it in the process. In this book, the choice was made for a particular socio-organizational reality: The Cyprus Community Media Center (CCMC) and its webradio station, MYCYradio, within the context of the Cyprus Problem—a choice that brings about the risk of simply adding to the libraries of books that have already been written about this conflict. The theoretical tools developed in Platform 1 and Platform 2 will be used (as sensitizing concepts—an analytical strategy that will be discussed at the end of Platform 1) for an analysis of the role that CCMC and MYCYradio, as a participatory community media assemblage, can play in the transformation of the Cyprus Problem, or, in other words, in the transformation of antagonism into agonism.

This third platform, with its two chapters, is extensive, as it contains a detailed analysis of the Cyprus Problem, first reverting to a factual historical narrative, providing an academic-historical anchorage point that is very necessary in a conflict where almost every historical event is contested. This historical narrative is then re-analyzed to comprehend the workings of the discursive-material knot in the Cyprus Problem. Although this extensive contextual analysis might seem superfluous at first glance, this analysis has intensively strengthened both the theoretical analyses in Platform 1 and Platform 2, and the CCMC/MYCYradio analysis in the second chapter of Platform 3. In the second chapter of Platform 3, CCMC and MYCYradio are analyzed, first as a participatory assemblage, and then as an agonist assemblage. The concluding reflection analyzes the articulation of participation and agonism.

This (finally) brings me to the main title of my book, to what provides the foundation of this entire book, with its three platforms, namely, the concept of the discursive-material knot. This concept has been chosen (and developed) to emphasize the need for bringing the discursive and the material, both theoretically and empirically, closer together. Different theoretical frameworks and traditions have identified this need, and this book is definitely not the first plea to study what Hardy and Thomas (2015: 692) have very recently called “[…] the material effects of discourse and the discursive effects of materiality […].” I even have the luxury of being able to point to an earlier article of my own (Carpentier, 2012), where I argued for this theoretical model to be developed. This is not an easy project, though, and many of the existing reflections on the discursive and the material have ended up (implicitly or explicitly) privileging one of the two components. ← 3 | 4 →

The theoretical framework of the discursive-material knot that I want to introduce and support with this book does not privilege the discursive over the material, or the material over the discursive. The discursive-material knot is a non-hierarchical ontology that theorizes the knotted interactions of the discursive and the material as restless and contingent, sometimes incessantly changing shapes and sometimes deeply sedimented. But this relation of interdependence will never result in one component becoming more important than the other. In this sense, the metaphor of the knot is important to express this intense and inseparable entanglement, but we should also acknowledge the limits of this metaphor and keep in mind that the knot can never be unraveled or disentangled. What we can do, as analysts of the discursive-material knot, is follow the rope (a bit like Actor Network Theory (ANT) researchers ‘follow the actor’—see Law, 1991; Ruming, 2009). Even then, we should remain realistic about what (academic) language allows us to do, and the constraints it creates. Having to work with (academic) language sometimes, for merely analytical reasons, causes the discursive and the material component to be discussed separately, in a particular order. One component always has to come first, but this is done without ever implying that their relationship is hierarchical.

Equally important to keep in mind is that the ontology of the discursive-material knot operates at all levels of the social. Here, Foucault’s (1977) ‘micro-physics of power’ offers a good parallel to the multi-level nature of the discursive-material knot. Foucault argued in Discipline and Punish that the workings of power enter the micro-processes of the social, structuring all our social relations. A similar argument can be made for the discursive-material knot. The knotted interaction of the discursive and the material—in always particular and contingent ways—structures large-scale assemblages, such as state apparatuses, armies, or markets, but it also enters into the micro-processes of the everyday without these different levels ever becoming disconnected.

In order to capture the translation of the discursive-material knot into social practice, the concept of the assemblage is used. While the discursive-material knot is located at the ontological level, the assemblage is positioned in this book at the ontic level, in order to theorize how the flows that characterize the social, with their endless range of possibilities to become fixated and to fixate, are arrested and channeled into particular combinations of the discursive and the material. It is the assemblage that enables us to think of the social as a tapestry, characterized by assemblages with their increased densities, surrounded by ever-moving flows. This is very reminiscent of Laclau ← 4 | 5 → and Mouffe’s (1985: 112) description of how a discourse functions (which is explicitly inspired by Lacan), and can be expanded to the workings of the discursive-material assemblage: “Any discourse is constituted as an attempt to dominate the field of discursivity, to arrest the flow of differences, to construct a centre.”

In developing this theoretical reflection about the discursive-material knot, one has to start somewhere, and as the previous citation already suggests, Laclau and Mouffe’s (1985) discourse theory will be the starting point to construct my theoretical reflections about the discursive-material knot, as their discourse theory has been my theoretical and intellectual home for a very long time (and still is). These dialogues with discourse theory will lead to a mild re-thinking of Laclau and Mouffe’s work, taking some of the critiques on discourse theory into consideration,1 oscillating between loyalty and disloyalty, in always respectful ways for their work, and for the closely related work of some of their colleagues (in particular Butler, 1990, 1993, 1997). This re-thinking is aimed at expanding discourse theory, infusing (or infecting) it with the material, and using the mutation to feed further theoretizations and empirical research. At the same time, this re-thinking remains faithful to the basic logic of discourse theory, which results in a radically consistent use of the discourse-theoretical conceptual frameworks (e.g., the distinction between discourses and signifying practices) to think through the discursive-material knot in its entirety.

As this book remains firmly grounded in discourse theory, I need to briefly explain the particularity of its approach towards discourse, which is defined (following Laclau, 1988: 254) as “[…] a structure in which meaning is constantly negotiated and constructed […].” This definition implies the preference for a macro-textual usage of the discourse concept—related to what is known as a big D discourse definition—which treats discourse as a concept closely related to (but not synonymous with) ideology (as will be explained more in Platform 1). Although discourse theory continuously emphasized the importance of the material (see, for instance, Laclau and Mouffe’s (1990: 101) reference to radical materialism), there is still a need to expand the theoretical reflections on the discursive-material knot, and the ways that the discursive and the material are interconnected. Moreover, this reconciliation is also constructive from an analytical point of view, as it allows for a much richer analysis, not merely focusing on media talk, for instance, but also on the contextualized processes of discursive-ideological production and their material components. ← 5 | 6 →

This expanding-discourse-theory project loudly acknowledges the accomplishments of ‘old’ materialisms—after all, Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory is a post-Marxist theory—but it is particularly sympathetic towards the developments in the field of new materialism,2 which aims to rethink and revalidate the role of the material in cultural theory. In this approach (or set of approaches), the material is seen as “agential matter” (Barad, 2007: 246) or “generative matter,” a concept that Dolphijn and van der Tuin (2012: 93) attributed to DeLanda (1996). Dolphijn and van der Tuin (2012: 93) immediately added to their reference to “generative matter” that the new materialist approaches are aimed at avoiding being locked in the dualism of “matter-of-opposed-to-signification.” Instead, new materialism “[…] captures mattering as simultaneously material and representational […]” (Dolphijn and van der Tuin, 2012: 93), a crucial position that prevents either the role of the discursive in producing meaning, or the agentic role of the material, being ignored. A similar position can be found with Rahman and Witz (2003: 256), when they wrote:

“The social constructionism being worked at here is not one that is limited by physical matter, but rather one that is able to incorporate body matters as an indivisible part of lived, gendered experience and action. Thus the scope of the social or the cultural evoked […] confronts the limits of constructionism, whether sociological or discursive, by sometimes admitting, sometimes asserting the body as a problematic yet inescapable component of a social ontology of gender and sexuality.”

The new materialist agenda is translated in a focus on a “material-semiotic actor” (Haraway, 1988: 595), or the use of a “material-discursive” (Barad, 2007) approach, which is indeed closely related to the discursive-material knot approach advocated here. At the risk of engaging in a semantic play: The order of the two concepts, as the discursive-material, matters. It is important, first of all, to emphasize that the starting point of my book is discourse-theoretical, which is then combined with an effort to make the material more visible in this discourse-theoretical strand. This more developed approach towards the discursive has an additional advantage, as it enriches new materialism and enables us to think more in detail how the discursive and the material are entangled. Also, the label of the discursive-material knot is used here to generate distance from some of the new materialist stances that are not shared. Although I am very sympathetic towards the idea of moving away from the discursive-material dualism, and I applaud the existence of pleas to strike a balance, the alleged domination of the representational, and the need ← 6 | 7 → to give the representational and linguisticality “[…] its proper place, that is, a more modest one […]” (Dolphijn and van der Tuin, 2012: 98), is sometimes hard to agree with. There are more kind versions (e.g., Kirby, 2006), but also some of the new materialist language towards post-structuralist authors, such as Butler, is slightly uncomfortable. This citation from Barad (2007: 145—my emphasis) contains some of the language that generates my discomfort:


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.

The author's website (LINK)


XVIII, 472
ISBN (Softcover)
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (July)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. XVIII, 472 pp.

Biographical notes

Nico Carpentier (Author)

Nico Carpentier is Professor in Media and Communication Studies at the Department of Informatics and Media of Uppsala University. In addition, he holds two part-time positions, those of Associate Professor at the Communication Studies Department of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Docent at Charles University in Prague. He is a Research Fellow at the Cyprus University of Technology and Loughborough University. Earlier books are Understanding Alternative Media (2007, co-authored with Olga Bailey and Bart Cammaerts), and Media and Participation: A Site of Ideological-Democratic Struggle (2011).


Title: The Discursive-Material Knot