Abstract only

Translated narratives

A narrow gate

Sue-Ann Harding

RIA-Novosti, Kavkazcenter and Caucasian Knot all state that, in addition to their Russophone readers, they publish for, and strive to reach, non-Russian audiences, goals which indubitably necessitate translation. Translation is vital to the stated goals of all three websites, which all explicitly aim to reach a readership wider than that limited to Russian speakers. This chapter investigates the English-language primary narrative texts published by each of these three websites. It compares narrative elements and construction with both the corresponding Russian primary narrative texts and with each other, and highlights the differences between the Russian texts and their English versions. Without the historical resonances, Kavkazcenter's persistent characterisation of the Russian state as 'enemy', a core component of the site's framing narrative of Beslan, risks becoming caricature. The chapter discusses some issues regarding the publication and presentation of translated texts.

Abstract only

Socio-narrative theory

Narratives, text, narrators

Sue-Ann Harding

This chapter begins by offering a working definition of narrative from a sociological perspective, including the key concepts of ontological narrativity and relationality. Four different types of narratives such as personal, public, conceptual and metanarratives are used as the basis for a revised typology of narratives. The chapter then moves to a discussion of several narratological terms and concepts used in the close, textual analysis of online news. It focuses on the concepts of narrator and temporary narrator in the literature on social narrativity. The chapter explains Mieke Bal's three conceptual layers of narrative: text, fabula and story. Raising questions about power and authority and the abilities of individuals and social groups to elaborate their narratives in society, particularly in situations of violent political conflict, these considerations are also an integral part of the analyses.

Abstract only

RIA-Novosti

‘No front line and an invisible enemy’

Sue-Ann Harding

This chapter begins with a quantitive and qualitative description of the primary narrative text. It discusses the RIA-Novosti narrator as a linguistic function of the text and the temporary narrators selected to contribute to the narrative. Temporary narrators selected by RIA-Novosti include officials, experts, RIA-Novosti correspondents and eyewitnesses. The chapter also discusses the different categories of textual material according to the intratextual model. The structure of this discussion moves from a temporal and spatial distance towards Beslan's School No. 1 during the siege and its immediate aftermath, the spatial and temporal site of the core narrative, insofar as such a narrative can be identified. Because the narrator has limited access to this site, narration comes from temporary narrators located nearby, from temporary narrators who relate the narratives of surviving hostages and, finally, from surviving hostages themselves.

Abstract only

Series:

Shivdeep Grewal

This chapter commences the reconstruction of cultural modernity at the level of the European Union (EU). It covers Jürgen Habermas's account of the mythical and religio-metaphysical worldviews antecedent to modernity. It considers a range of intellectual positions inimical to modernity. These provide the basis for the examination of neoconservative and neo-Nietzschean tendencies. Following Max Weber, Habermas focuses on the conditions furnished by Christianity for the emergence of modernity in the West. The intersection between the Judeo-Christian and Hellenic traditions, exemplified by T. Aquinas's Summa theologiae, is described as a 'remarkable' occurrence, for these were the 'two worldviews with the structurally greatest potential for rationalisation'. For Weber, it was the curtailment of rationalisation in the realm of ethics, rather than outright disenchantment, that facilitated social modernity.

Abstract only

Series:

Shivdeep Grewal

This chapter considers the spectrum of neoconservative orientations. It also considers the eras of 'ungovernability thesis' and the 'war on terror'. While neoconservatives have espoused liberal nationalism and productivism, Jürgen Habermas has called for further rationalisation. In a commentary on his work, Habermas described Daniel Bell as the 'most brilliant' of first generation American neoconservatives. Bell argued that the crisis tendencies exhibited by developed societies from the 1960s onward were the offspring of the decentred subjectivity of aesthetic modernity. The result was 'ungovernability', the condition of the Keynesian state apparatus being overloaded by the demands of an egoistic public. Against the backdrop of the 'war on terror', the George Bush administration's response to 9/11, Habermas would undertake a second critique of American neoconservatism.

Abstract only

Series:

Shivdeep Grewal

This chapter considers Jürgen Habermas's account of social evolution. It describes primitive and traditional stages of development, and the subsequent onset of juridification. Juridification can be thought of as a metatheory of social modernity, a statement of its ontological assumptions. The chapter looks at the concepts of 'system' and 'lifeworld' central to Habermas's thought. He conceives the thought of European Union (EU) as an intensification of juridification, than as a qualitative shift from law to an alternative mechanism of social evolution, such as information technology. It extrapolates the concept of juridification to the level of the EU and identifies attributes specific to EU juridification. The chapter delineates successive historical trajectories of continental juridification. These are categorised in terms of the 'neo-Latin' ideal types developed by Schmitter, rather than Westphalian or imperial models drawn from elsewhere; in Schimtter's terminology, post-Maastricht juridification is found to correspond with the trajectory of condominio era.

Abstract only

Kavkazcenter

‘Mister Putin, you are a butcher’

Sue-Ann Harding

Like RIA-Novosti, very few of the Kavkazcenter posts include elements from eyewitnesses in Beslan, and most of these are both anonymous and indirectly reported. Kavkazcenter's non-narrative material is made up of completely different texts, including letters, Chechen-Ichkerian's official statements and several commentaries. The inundation of international responses to the siege that constitute such a large proportion of the RIA-Novosti narrative is completely absent from the Kavkazcenter narrative text, and the explicit connections they create between the Beslan attack and 'the war on terrorism'. Only three named and directly quoted eyewitnesses act as temporary narrators in the Kavkazcenter primary narrative text. The first is former hostage Adel Itskaeva, 'one of the women released on Thursday after negotiations with former president of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev'. A third former hostage, Zalina Dzandarova, interviewed by Gazeta.ru, is the only one to narrate her story at length.

Abstract only

Introduction

Modernity, welfare state and Eutopia

Series:

Shivdeep Grewal

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book engages with Jürgen Habermas's thought as a totality, though attention is focussed on themes such as communicative rationality that began to surface in the 1970s. Motifs of social and cultural modernity recur in Habermas's journalism. In the case of social modernity, suggestions of 'juridification', the legal consolidation of successive stages of social evolution, surfaced repeatedly in relation to both the nation-state and European Union (EU). In terms of cultural modernity, a recurrent feature of Habermas's journalism has been the critique of neoconservatism. The book utilizes concepts derived from the accounts of social and cultural modernity to analyse empirical data collected against the background of the Constitutional Convention.

Abstract only

Sue-Ann Harding

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book aims to examine, describe, contrast and compare a sample of written narratives constructed in response to the events of Beslan as those events were still unfolding on the ground. It investigates the Russian-language narrative texts published by a different online news agency. The book analyses those texts published by the major Russian agency RIA-Novosti and examines the Chechen resistance website Kavkazcenter. It also investigates the reports published by Caucasian Knot, a charitably funded Russian civil society website. The book reiterates the socio-narrative assumption that narratives are inextricably linked with human agency. It explores the relevancy of narratives and the contributions of socio-narrative theory towards understanding, explaining and challenging the behaviour of individuals and the practices of social units and institutions, particularly with regards to issues of violence and power.

Abstract only

Series:

Shivdeep Grewal

The European Union (EU) can be thought of as an outcome of juridification. Yet the concept must be adapted if it is to support more than metatheoretical reflection on the integration process. This chapter outlines Jürgen Habermas's survey of action and systems theories. Though critical of functionalism, he has drawn inspiration from the systems theoretic approaches of Talcott Parsons and Niklas Luhmann. The chapter examines the early and late works of both Parsons and Luhmann. Drawing on the writings of R. Geyer, and Thomas Christiansen, K.E. Jørgensen and A. Wiener, it states the criteria for the positioning of European integration theories along the 'constructivist continuum'. The chapter assesses analyses of Social Europe in relation to the constructivist continuum. Integrative dynamics are the relationships a given theory posits between the European, national and subnational levels.