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Johanna Sumiala


This article examines rituals of mourning in the digital mediascape in the case of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, 2015. The idea of the digital mediascape draws on Arjun Appadurai’s (1990) seminal work on mediascape and develops it further in the current framework of digital media. Rituals of mourning are approached as a response and a reaction to the anxiety and distress caused by the unexpected violent death of global media attention. The phenomenology of ritual practices in Charlie Hebdo is characterised as multi-layered, relational and coexisting. The article looks in particular at the ritual mourning in association with the message and the meme “Je suis Charlie”. The ‘imagined worlds’ created around the digital circulation of this ritual message are discussed in relation to the idea of the politics of death formed around such fundamental value-laden questions as whose life counts as life and is thus worthy of public recognition of mourning, as Judith Butler (2004) has asked.

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“Web First” to Death

The Media Logic of the School Shootings in the Era of Uncertainty

Johanna Sumiala and Minttu Tikka


The article discusses the most recent Finnish school shootings in Jokela (2007) and in Kauhajoki (2008) as communicative events, proclaimed to be media disasters. These events are described as media disasters following the media logic of the network society. The media performance of the school shootings is analysed from the three different, yet interconnected perspectives: transmission, ritual and dissemination models of communication. The special focus is on the analysis of web based communication; its patterns, functions and logic. The authors argue that the most prevalent media logic of school shooting communication is the circulation of violent messages. Finally the authors suggest that the Jokela and the Kauhajoki school shootings should be considered as articulations of the culture of fear.