Media divide and connect simultaneously: they act as intermediaries between otherwise disconnected entities, and as a “middle” that mediates, but also shields different entities from each other. This ambiguity gives rise to conflicting interpretations, and it evokes all those figures that give a first clue about this janus-faced relationship of “connect and divide”: gate-keeper, parasite, amongst others. If we give accounts of media before and after their mediated action, we refer to persons and organizations, automatisms and artifacts, signals and inscriptions, and we seem to find it easy to refer to their distinct potentials and dis/abilities. But within the interaction – the “middle” of media itself seems to be distributed right across the mix of material, semiotic and personal entities involved, and the location of agency is hard to pin down. In case of breakdown we have to disentangle the mix; in case of smooth operations action becomes all the more distributed and potentially untraceable – which makes its attribution a matter of the simultaneously occuring distribution of (official and unofficial) knowledge, labour and power. The empirical and historical investigation of this two-faced relationship of “connect and divide” has thus resulted in a veritable “practice turn in media studies.”
The publication studies four aspects of the practice turn in media studies: Media history from a praxeological perspective, the practice turn in religion and media studies, the connecting and dividing lines of media theories concerning gender and post_colonial agencies, and a historical and theoretical examination of the current relationship of media theory and practice theory.