30th Jul2012

Reaching wider horizons…the IAMCR conference in Durban

by admin

The IAMCR conference unraveled an exciting world of media and communication research. One could not have a better glance at this than in a conference of a global scale, hosted in our very own grounds in Durban, KZN. The conference was a complete learning curve for an emerging scholar like me, attending an event like this for the very first time. The conference had a balanced vibe between the social and formal programmes. Together with other postgrad students from across the globe, I definitely enjoyed sharing my nightmares, my joys and jubilation about my current MA research. It really was great seeing that I am not on a lonely path as far as my research is concerned. In a sense, I came to a conclusion that the MA syndrome is a global phenomenon which has its ups and downs.

I have learned a lot from the conference, ranging from building up good research coupled with a good presentation. The conference has been an eye opener in many ways, apart from the presentation of papers, I also learned that an enormous amount of work is involved in preparing for a conference of a global scale and the logistics involved. After attending a number of sessions in the Emerging Scholar Network, I definitely must say that I am really proud of my student colleagues who presented their papers. They were pitched at a high global standard and the papers received great reviews and comments from the respondent and audience members. A huge Big Up to Kgali, Aneesa and Sylvia for flying the flag. As for me, I am sure I certainly made a good chair. 🙂

Attending the conference would have been impossible without help from the Faculty of Humanities, the School of Literature and Language Studies and the Department of Media Studies. I definitely would like to express my gratitude to Dr Willems, for seeing to it that our attendance became a success regardless of the challenges posed by funding. Special thanks to Ms Delia Rossouw, the School Admin Manager for her relentless hard work and effort, making sure that our documents and funds were processed. Lastly, a special thanks needs to be made to Professor Judith Inggs – words cannot describe the enormous care and support that she’s given to us. The same goes to Professor Eric Worby and the Wits University Financial Aid office for their assistance with traveling grants.

2013, it’s Dublin, Ireland. Looking forward to it. It will be another great week of critical scholarly engagement and great scholarly interactions.

Themba Mnguni is a MA student in Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand.

 

 

26th Jun2012

A ride for race: freedom of expression versus nation building

by admin

South Africa has seen the grounds of its democratic constitution tested over a number of ‘politically’-oriented activities. The test ranged from Mbongeni Ngema’s song Amandiya which was overruled by the constitutional court as hateful and disrespectful of the Indian community. Following the court’s decision, the song was banned across all media platforms. A few years later, the South African constitutional court heard the case of the former controversial ANC youth league leader, Julius Malema, over a political song that he led which white Afrikaners argued was motivating the murdering of white farmers.

The court heard the case and ruled in favor of the Afrikaner community. The judgment invoked by the court was the same as the one used in the previous ruling on the song by Mbongeni Ngema. Following the ruling, the ANC youth league and its ‘leader’ were banned from singing the song, and as a result, the ruling made the Kill the boer song illegal. The judgment was met with fiery by the ANC, ‘renouncing’ the court’s ruling over the view that the song was part of the history of the political struggle of South Africa against apartheid, and that making it illegal simply meant erasing the national history of South Africa upheld by the majority that suffered against the injustices promulgated by the then white government. Nonetheless, the court decision remains effective.

The cases presented above indicate how subjective and contestable freedom of expression is in South Africa, given that we come from a divided past filled with hatred and abuse. South Africa’s historical legacy offers a better understanding of why previous rulings have compromised freedom of expression in an attempt to reconcile the nation and heal it from its divided past.

The recent case and debates surrounding ‘The Spear’ portrait – which exposed the genitals of the President – have taken debates on race, freedom of speech and artistic creativity to another level. These debates have gained a strong intensity across all media platforms – new and old. The debates were also hit by an unprecedented stir on national television. A perfect indication is drawn from Shift, a mid-day talk show on SABC 1 commissioned by SABC Education. The programme carried discussion content on freedom of expression following the portrait saga. Participation by viewers in the programme took the public views on ‘The Spear’ portrait to another realm. The concern that emerged from the viewers was that artistic freedom should be carried in such a way that it does not infringe on the right to dignity and should be respectful and mindful of other people’s cultures.

An argument that one should take away from the cases presented above is that freedom of expression is ideal, relative and subjective. It is not an inherent right to be considered of national priority whilst the majority of South Africans are living in abjective poverty. Before freedom of expression can be treasured and cherished by all, attempts need to be made first that South Africa fulfills its mandate of nation-building and reduces the extreme gap between the haves and their counterparts. Although freedom of expression is a crucial tool for any democratic society, in the context of South Africa we need to exercise this right with caution to ensure that it does not deprive the nation of the gains made so far in terms of nation-building. South Africa is a democracy in the making. Its constitution may provide a global blueprint for a constitutional democracy. However, its history and challenges will always dictate the interpretation and execution of its constitution.

Themba Mnguni is a MA student in Media Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand and an intern at SABC Education.

23rd Apr2012

Cracking the odds, challenging the everyday

by admin

Themba Mnguni, currently a MA student in Media Studies (and one of the founding members of exPress imPress!), recounts his journey from Wits Media Studies to SABC Education.

This piece is a reflection on the journey that I have made; from being a student, graduate, postgraduate and now a ‘professional’ in the media. My first encounter with the horrible subject called Media Studies had not been so exciting and such a smooth riding as anyone would expect. I thought Media Studies was going to be a great, exciting and fantastic course that anyone wanting to be big in social circles could enroll for without hesitations. I thought it would offer the best alternative to the so-called Engineering Sciences which take forever to finish – that is for those who are lucky enough to survive exclusion and the ordeals of oracle. Oh well, who was I fooling, the Social Sciences proved a whole lot tougher and demanding than the Engineering Sciences!

However, on the positive side, the Social Sciences grant you tools for mastering the science of thinking and the art of strategy and communication. One could not have learned these better anywhere else than in Media Studies. Along with thousands of other students out there, I also was confused about where a degree/qualification in Media Studies would get me, and I thought it could possibly make me part of the stats of thousands of jobless graduates in weakling economies post-the-global-financial-downturn, as has been the case in Europe and other parts of the world. These were general stereotypes that sent a cold shiver down my spine. However, like a good warrior, I soldiered on and ignored all the “noise” from the sides.  Keeping a straight head got me through my first degree, second one and now-about-to-‘complete’-third-degree in Media Studies.

What I am trying to achieve with this article is to flag away the stereotypes that we – students of Media Studies and the Humanities – normally come across on an everyday basis from our very own counterparts in Engineering, Business and Health Sciences. I believe that the Social Sciences are still crucial in this modern day, age and time, and relevant to today’s market economy, with Media Studies being a leading field. The market is always likely to be rewarding and welcoming if one goes the extra mile in studying further. In that way, one builds solid research capacity and project management skills which are essential skills that one needs to have in today’s market-driven economy.

I recently joined SABC Education, a division that we are all familiar with. Those students who have gone past the first year in Media Studies will definitely remember the stack of readings on the SABC and its mandate as a public broadcaster. Articles from the course reading pack preached intensely that post-1994, SABC gained a new role as a public broadcaster, providing the public with education, information and entertainment. The division that I am currently with is responsible for enforcing the first two arms of the mandate (education and information) on three national television channels and twelve public radio stations, and more recently also via social media platforms which are used by all the SABC channels (both television and radio).

SABC Education is divided into three units, namely Formal Education; Public Information and Social Development; and Outreach. I am based in the Public Information and Social Development unit which is an awesome, vibrant and equitable unit. We basically work with all channels in supplying educational content. The following programmes – amongst others – are our babies: Talk SA, Shift, Intersexions, Making Moves, Matric Uploaded, Living Land and others. In a nutshell, my division is a crucial player in spearheading the educational mandate of the SABC. It is a great environment to work in; a place where Media Studies is in action and at its best. All aspect of Media Studies can be deployed in the workplace, ranging from critical discourse analysis, content analysis, critical political economy, cultural studies, genre studies, ideology, framing – the list is endless!

But it is also a very hectic environment to work in. Without further studying, it would have been extremely difficult to crack the whip. Getting this internship with the SABC has certainly not been a walk in the park. 3,775 well-deserving and qualifying graduates responded to the ad for this post but SABC could only accommodate 95 graduates. Mathematically, that’s a rough 2% of the overall number of applications received. So far, I am definitely happy with the robust working experience that the unit is imparting me with. I am really at home and looking forward to remain with the division. There is no other working environment as good as SABC Education!

To read more of Themba’s articles, please click here.

13th Sep2011

Is the Information Bill a threat to South African democracy?

by admin

The fall of 1990 saw the demise of apartheid in South Africa coupled with the rise and manifestation of popular politics towards democracy. This trend was largely displayed in South African media both in print and broadcasting as these industries underwent a drastic transformation from state to private, public and community ownership. These changes reflected the new South Africa framed on the ideals of the rule of law and democracy. The changes in the political landscape of South Africa were largely outplayed by the local media by demonstrating the ability of being impartial, balanced and fair towards political leaders across different political fraternities. In this context the South African media assumed the role of being a watchdog and provided a ‘public sphere’ for voices that were previously marginalised. These developments strengthened South African democracy and gained it respect across the globe.

What one can take from the above is that democracy in South Africa eroded the limitations that were posed on media by the apartheid government. These barriers imposed on the majority of South Africans limitations regarding their freedom of expression and their right to access and participate in a neutral media platform. Therefore democracy in South Africa has done away with the practice of suppressing the marginalised voices that challenged the state and its hegemony.

Now the policy on the information bill drives away all these major achievements made so far by the media in the new South Africa. The bill resurrects the previous practices that the media was subjected to under the hostile headship of the apartheid government. In my view the information bill is nothing but “old wine in a new bottle”. If entered into force, the bill will be a threat to editorial independency, media freedom and South African democracy.

Perhaps the South African government still needs to learn more from the devastating harm that the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) has done to the media and democracy in Zimbabwe. South Africa needs not to become another Zimbabwe and that is truly and only possible if we as South Africans stand together and oppose the bill. We have done it against the apartheid regime, why not now? Campaigns alone are not sufficient enough, we need to do more!

What we should all know is that if our media is at threat, the same goes for our democracy and our economy and there will be no meaning to living in South Africa anymore. To coin it all up in one, there is no democracy without media freedom and this is poisonous to the economy and will eventually lead to an outbreak of a humanitarian crisis as in Zimbabwe. To help curb all of these, the South African government should refrain from interfering in issues that govern and put at stake media freedom.

Themba Mnguni is a Media Studies alumni. He holds a BA (Hons) degree in Media Studies from the University of the University of the Witwatersrand (email contact: m.thizo@yahoo.com).

 

 

 

 

15th Nov2010

Victorine Ntambo in the spotlight

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Isaac Themba Mnguni interviews Victorine Ntambo about the ins and outs of her research on virtual communities, identity and the Cameroonian diaspora.

ITM: What are you currently studying?

VN: Honours degree in Media Studies.

ITM: What motivated you to go back to school?

VN: I obtained my degree in Journalism and Mass Communications some 10 years ago, in 1999 to be precise. I have worked since then. Going back to school was a means of filling a vacuum that was created by not studying further than a BA degree. You know a degree in the workplace today is compared to matric some few years back

ITM: How did you find it? I mean embarking on studies again after working for 10 years?

VN: Very challenging. A lot has changed. Lectures have become more interactive and also everyone in my class was so young. I expected to be treated differently you know, given that I was the only worker-turned-student in my class. I felt very old but again proud of myself that I could give up all the luxury in working life to be confined to lectures, assignments and exams.

ITM: What is your research topic?

VN: “Diasporic voices of opposition: Virtual pursuits for identity and secession on AMBASOS, a Yahoo group discussion forum by Southern Cameroonians”.

ITM: Why did you chose that topic?

VN: A difficult question but to cut things short, I am in the diaspora myself and would like to find out how the issue of identity comes to the fore when diasporic communities decide to challenge their governments.

ITM: What have been the challenges that you have so far faced in your research?

VN: My supervisor is wonderful in giving me support. At the beginning, I had no schedule and working without one made it difficult to accomplish tasks (that were most often unknown).

ITM: You are a parent, house wife, business woman and a student. That’s a lot. How do you cope?

VN: Support structure is very important in life. As a parent, my husband is very supportive and a good listener and in business my staff members are standing by me. In school, my lecturers alongside my course mates have helped in guiding me. Above all to God be the glory.

ITM: What advice do you have for emerging researchers?

VN: I am also an emerging researcher. Hahaha. However, all I can tell anyone studying is that goal setting is the ultimate. No one can make life better for you than yourself.

ITM: Do you have any tips about managing your relationship with your supervisor?

VN: Meeting deadlines, giving more than expected, honesty and most importantly not thinking that you know more than s/he.

ITM: What is your view on Julius Malema’s refusal to pay fines for the statement he made denouncing the victim of the alleged rape case by President Jacob Zuma?

VN: I would not like to comment on this particular issue but would want to assure readers that your future begins today. If we teach respect, that is what we shall get. Should the legal system be flexible enough to let Malema go free, consequences must be borne by South Africa as a nation.

ITM: What are your future plans?

VN: Studying further is my immediate objective. In my life I hope to touch many people and possibly nations by advocating the fact that educating a girl child fast-tracks development.

ITM: What is your favourite quote:

VN: “Knowledge is the new currency. Acquire it, and it is yours forever” (my own quote).

08th Nov2010

Are ICTs new tools for democracy in Africa? The case of Zimbabwe and Swaziland

by admin

Both the colonial and postcolonial order in Africa saw an intensification of hostile political regimes. This became even more evident in the latter period. After colonization many political regimes in Africa sustained the colonial legacy of exclusive politics further under the pretext of decolonization. Looking at the current political landscape in Africa, it appears that issues of liberal democracy, human rights and the rule of law still remain a challenge in foreseeing a democratic Africa.

Paying  close attention to Southern Africa, it shows that even though some regimes have democratized, many governments in the region still adopt a kind of exclusive and hostile politics. Zimbabwe and Swaziland validate this point. Global institutions such as the United Nations (UN), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and others have used neoliberal policies to enforce the culture of democratic politics in Africa.  In response to this, countries like South Africa were able to democratize and break away from the racial politics of apartheid. However, both Swaziland and Zimbabwe took a move that is in contrast to the neoliberal ideology of the contemporary global order.

Nonetheless, the public resistance to the 2008 general elections of Zimbabwe and the emergence of democratic movements in Swaziland indicate a move away from exclusive politics through initiatives propagated by members of civil society. Throughout these moves, information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become crucial means to foster democratic politics and raise public debates on issues central to democratic governance thus includes issues such as elections, human rights and rule of law.  These issues are not normally debated in public spaces in Swaziland and Zimbabwe given the existence of judiciary laws that threaten the freedom of expression on the account of securing public order.

Following these cases, it becomes evident that ICTs do not only foster democracy alone but they provide and protect fundamental liberties such as the freedom of speech which is mostly endangered by authoritarian leaders. The politics of internet resistance is normally a response to a curtailed media environment that is viewed biased in the coverage of political news while subject to censorship. In overriding these concerns, the internet has provided a gateway through which civil society can resist and challenge the dominant discourse of the ruling party.

Through blogging and citizen journalism, many Zimbabweans have been able to challenge the rhetoric of the ruling party Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and to denounce its forms of governance. To most who have an interest in political news on Zimbabwe, the website Kubatana has become a source for civil society information and has provided platforms for online participation in political debates. In Swaziland democratic movements have relied on the use of social media such as Facebook to raise discourses that challenge the Kingdom. This has yielded positive effects in promoting freedom of speech and the right to dissent.

But the challenge remains that not everyone in Zimbabwe and Swaziland has access to computer technologies and networks in order to participate in the online forums that carry political debates.  Apart from physical access, illiteracy, unemployment and poverty hinder a progressive usage of ICTs to promote democracy in Africa but this does not deny ICTs an ability to promote alternative politics and democracy.

Isaac Themba Mnguni

Note: This article draws on my Honours research report submitted to the Department of Media Studies, University of the Witwatersrand in November 2010.

01st Nov2010

Vidhya Bhula in the spotlight

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Isaac Themba Mnguni interviews Vidhya Bhula about the ins and outs of her research on media, race, gender and the Caster Semenya saga.

ITM: What are you currently studying?

VB: MA in Media Studies.

ITM: What is your research topic?

VB: Questioning Gender: The representation of race and gender in global and local print media responses of the Caster Semenya Saga.

ITM: What have been the challenges that you have so far faced in your research?

VB: Mostly getting over the writer’s block! But I also have problems accessing the print media articles/pictures both locally and internationally.

ITM: You are coordinating tutorials, studying and involved with a local NGO. That is a hectic schedule – what is your survival guide?

VB: My diary – on most days… Sometimes it’s hard to keep up but by writing things down and trying to keep stuff as neat and organized as possible I try to keep my head above water.

ITM: What advice do you have for emerging researchers?

VB: Be sure about what you want to research. It must be something that interests you and that you are extremely passionate about. If you don’t like your research, you will be stuck with work you don’t like for an entire year or two years… It will drive you INSANE!

ITM: Do you have any tips about managing your relationship with your supervisor?

VB: Take his/her advice. Supervisors too, have been where we are now and they are experts in their respective fields. They have the tools to help us survive the research… We just need to use these tools.

ITM: What are your views on the right to protest on campus and the charges laid by the senate on SRC members for the strike in 2008/9?

VB: I think everyone has the right to protest and make their voices heard. But these should not hinder others’ rights to learn.. So as long as it’s kept clean and limited to those who want to participate in the protests then it should be allowed. However, the charges against SRC members are valid and the course of action, the disciplinary hearings and whatever gets decided thereafter, should be allowed to continue, with no hindrance. These systems are put into place for a reason – to ensure that Wits remains a place of learning where students’ development should not be obstructed in any way.

ITM: What are your future plans?

VB: In the short term… Find a job!!! And I am planning a “Big Fat Indian Wedding”. My long term goal is to establish myself within a reputable company and work in marketing, PR and communications.

ITM: What is your favorite quote?

VB: I don’t know who said it but “A diamond is a piece of coal that handled stress exceptionally well”. I want to be a diamond.

11th Oct2010

Janeske Botes in the spotlight

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Janeske Botes

Isaac Themba Mnguni interviews Janeske Botes about the ins and outs of her research on news and social movements in South Africa.

ITM: What are you currently studying?

JB: PhD in Media Studies.

ITM: What is your research topic?

JB: I am looking at the construction of news on social movements in South Africa, from both a mainstream and alternative media perspective.

ITM: What have been the challenges that you have so far faced in your research?

JB: Finding solid chunks of time to focus on research and writing.  That’s what weekends were made for!

ITM: You are lecturing and studying: what is your survival guide?

JB: Plan well, stick to it and coffee.

ITM: What advice do you have for emerging researchers?

JB: Well, I am one of those, so, see answer to the previous question!

ITM: Do you have any tips about managing your relationship with your supervisor?

JB: Respect, keep communication lines open and have a very clear idea of what is expected of each of you.

ITM: What are your views on the proposed Media Appeals Tribunal and the Protection of Information Bill?

JB: I disagree completely with both and think they will completely undermine media freedom in South Africa.

ITM: What are your future plans?

JB: I plan on staying in academia, so that would entail research and teaching.  I am also involved with a few civic organisations, and so, hope to make a difference in some way.

ITM: What is your favorite quote?

JB: “Conform and be dull.”  J.F. Dobie

04th Oct2010

The use of new media as alternative media: the case of Zimbabwe

by admin

Themba Mnguni shares some initial ideas about his ongoing research on the role of new media in Zimbabwe.

My research looks at the use of new media as alternative media in the specific context of Zimbabwe. Studies conducted so far on the subject enthusiastically celebrate the ability of technology to resist repression from the government. Scholars have hailed the ability of new media to disseminate information and mobilize the public. Most relevantly, social media have become a dominant force used by civil society to resist domination; as such has proven successful with the case of Facebook in Egypt and Twitter in Iran. This indicates that new media provide tools in which members of the public can escape state propaganda and censorship. Therefore new media contribute to a democratic discourse as it allows dissent and participation. It is with this regard that one hears of concepts such as cyber-activism and e-democracy.

Looking at sub-Saharan Africa, one sees a challenge with regard to the use of new media to enforce and promote democracy and to counterbalance the hegemonic media. However, one needs to take into account the socio-economic tortures faced by the region and not neglect the impact yielded by the digital divide. The case of Zimbabwe goes to indicate that one cannot celebrate the abilities of new media in promoting democracy and counterbalancing state media reports in Zimbabwe, given that the issue of access and affordability of new media technologies remains in question. However, in enjoying the minimal benefits or effects of new media, civil society in Zimbabwe has relied on the use of short message service (SMS) to derive an alternative platform for communication, participation and dissent. And those that are economically favoured have extended their participation in the online forums provided by civil society organizations such as Kubatana, a local NGO of Zimbabwe aimed at promoting human rights through the use of ICT.

But of challenge to this study is that the alternative forums that are online remain exclusive to those who have means to access computer technologies. Therefore a question that this research engages with is whether new media technologies are significant tools to be considered as alternative media in Africa, using Zimbabwe as a case study. The truth of the matter is that question remains to be answered by my research as it unfolds. Any comments on my initial ideas are very welcome!

29th Sep2010

Mncedisi Mashigoane in the spotlight

by admin

Isaac Themba Mnguni interviews Mncedisi Mashigoane about the ins and outs of his research on the soap opera Isidingo and post-apartheid identity formation.

Mncedisi Mashigoane

ITM: What are you currently studying?

MM: I am doing my PhD in Media Studies.

ITM: What is your research topic?

MM: Reading Isidingo (1998) in the context of post-apartheid identity formation.

ITM: What have been the challenges that you have so far faced in your research?

MM: Coming from literary studies into a fairly new area of studying – a complex visual narrative of the soap opera – was a major transition. Unlike a poem or a novel or even a feature film, the soap opera narrative is not closed or structured in a clear three acts, Aristotlean format. It is a whole new ball game altogether. There is a different reading style involved and you consequently are challenged to sift through your acquired toolkit of reading and analytical expertise to find what is relevant to the new narrative you are exploring. You also have to acquire a whole new set of theoretical skills that are appropriate to the form. It is not just challenging but also exciting as you discover and acquire additional skills and knowledge. The main challenge was getting the proposal approved because it is your blueprint for the entire project and the project depends on it to move forward or fall apart. Coming from different learning and research cultures [University of Cape Town, Rhodes University] also necessitated some adaptation to the Wits manner of doing things. Researching the materials for the proposal stage was painstaking as you practically have to read almost everything that seems relevant to your topic as you go about honing and shaping your topic to its essential focus. This is where you appreciate the role of a supervisor most!

ITM: You are lecturing and studying: what is your survival guide?

MM: I try to juggle my responsibilities and even though it is hard to maintain the balance, sometimes I find that if you enjoy reading and writing then it is less torturous. I also think one has to try to be a complete human being and not neglect other aspects like family responsibilities, loving, having fun, etc. I find that this helps to unwind and freshen your mind so that when you return to books and other texts your mind is eager for the intellectual challenges involved in research.

ITM: What advice do you have for emerging researchers?

MM: There are no short cuts to reading and writing. You just have to do it or ship out.

ITM: Do you have any tips about managing your relationship with your supervisor?

MM: I think managing your supervisor ought to be based on the same principles you apply to managing human beings generally. Respect, honesty, sticking to deadlines are values that come to mind in terms of relations with supervisors specifically.

ITM: What are your views on the proposed media bill?

MM: If you mean the mooted Media Appeals Tribunal, I am still watching the space but I would not support anything that tramples on our hard fought rights to freedom of expression as well as disseminating and receiving information. Having said that, I also do not think the print media has discharged its mandate with integrity. This partly stems from its legacy and ownership patterns. You do get a sense that as an institution, the print media has aligned itself with the opposition parties and attacks everything that the ANC does. Maybe that’s a misconception but a lot of black people do share that perception and when the opposition is seen as a party that represents white interests in a country with a history like ours, attitudes harden and the media loses the sympathy of the majority. The poor state of journalism and a weak or “toothless” ombuds system add to the dire mixture. Another finger must also point to the journalism schools because they produce the current crop of journalists who are accused of invading people’s privacies, unethical conduct, unfair and poorly researched stories, defamatory reports and so forth. As for the “state secrecy” bill, I think there is a danger that sensitive information that ought to be made public may be kept out of the public domain by shady politicians. It is as it stands now too general and gives too much power to state officials; it’s a very dangerous document.

ITM: What are your future plans?

MM: Get a PhD, continue lecturing and build up a research and creative corpus.

ITM: What is your favorite quote?

MM: “To Infinity and Beyond”: it is from the animated feature Toy Story and the words are uttered by Buzzlightyear, the protagonist.

ITM: Any final words of advice?

MM: In life you must always expect the unexpected and leave room for disappointments.

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