Dr. Alessandra Renzi

Associate Professor, Communication Studies


Dr.  Alessandra Renzi
A smiling mediterranean woman with short curly dark hair and one grey streak in the front. She is wearing glasses, big hoop earrings and a black top and is standing in front of a teal background.
Concordia University, photo by Marc Bourcier
Office: L-CJ 4325 
Communication Studies and Journalism Building,
7141 Sherbrooke W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 2548
Email: alessandra.renzi@concordia.ca
Website(s): http://repurposing-research.org

Education and Academic Positions

Assistant Professor in Emergent Media, Northeastern University

Postdoc, School of Information Studies and Center for 21stCentury Studies, University of Wisconsin

Postdoc, Infoscape Research Lab, Toronto Met University (formerly Ryerson University)

PhD, Humanities, Social Sciences & Social Justice Education,OISE, University of Toronto

BA/MA, North American Studies, Freie Universitaet Berlin

Areas of research

Dr. Renzi’s interdisciplinary work explores the linkages and relays between media, art and civic engagement through community-led research, ethnographic studies and media projects. She has studied pirate television networks in Italy, the surveillance of social movements in Canada after 9-11 and housing and data justice in Indonesia. Her current research investigates how society’s increasing reliance on platforms, algorithms and AI is changing urban landscapes and community organizing alike. She is the PI of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant titled "On the Margins of the Platform Economy: Community-led Responses to Technical Gentrification," with focus on Montreal's Parc Extension neighbourhood. 


Teaching activities

UNDERGRADUATE

COMS 276 Communication Media: Sound I

This course introduces students to acoustic, analog, and digital components of audio systems. Students explore the communicational and aesthetic characteristics of sound. Through practical exercises students learn how to structure sound into imaginative aural forms across various media.

 

COMS 412/512 Discourses of Dissent

This course examines the forms and tactics of public discourses directed toward social change. Forms of public discourse that may be considered include speech, images, audiovisual works, as well as web-based sites or forms of communication. Emphasis is placed upon political protest, conflict, controversy, and mobilization. Themes explored include the development of the use of resistance to settler colonialism, unconventional tactics, theories of power and resistance, racial, decolonial and housing justice. This course emphasizes critical readings and discussions and requires students to engage with practical approaches to discourses of dissent in media through a series of hands on experiments. 

 

GRADUATE

COMS 882/2 Communication, Democracy, and Power

This doctoral seminar explores contemporary capitalism(s) with an eye to the complex nature of socio-technical transformations, algorithmic finance and climate impact. The course weaves together insights from communication and media studies, anthropology, political economy, philosophy and critical geography. After revisiting some key texts on neoliberal power and economic accumulation (Foucault, Brown, Hall, Ong, Deleuze and Guattari), we will examine more recent theories that expand, question and reframe how we think about neoliberal capitalism in its various hierarchical and extractive instantiations (Melinda Cooper, Benjamin Bratton, Ruha Benjamin, Lisa Lowe, Sandro Mezzadra, Saskia Sassen, Jason E. Lewis). At issue are questions of how these frameworks can bolster scholarly analyses across multiple scales: the technological, the social and the planetary. We will question whether and to what extent neoliberalism is still a useful concept; where and how we can locate the human in increasingly technological and neo-positivistic modes of governance; and how finance capital and big data are shaping spaces and ways of life. The seminar exposes PhD students to up-to-date studies of extraction economies, the intersections of biopolitics, race and technology, colonial geographies and economies, borders and mobilities, logistics, risk speculation and climate adaptation, algorithmic governance and computational infrastructures.

COMS 642/893/2 Autonomia — The Italian Laboratory for Marxist and Feminist Theory and Practice

This seminar exposes students to the Italian tradition of autonomist Marxist and feminist thought and their research methods. These ideas and studies have made significant contributions to contemporary research in communication studies, providing novel frameworks to understand a variety of phenomena–– from labour in information societies to how affect and processes of subjectivation sustain media use; from new forms of control of communication infrastructure and media platforms to grassroots activism. The seminar explores the histories, ideas and methods of Autonomia––a movement that started in the 70s and that has garnered the attention of North American academia through the work of thinkers like Silvia Federici, Franco Bifo Berardi and Antonio Negri. As we explore these contributions, special attention will be paid to how Autonomist ideas can be taken up, and are being taken up, outside of Italy, where local histories of power and oppression call for the encounter between these ideas and other intellectual and political traditions, especially anti-oppression and de-colonial.

 

COMS 506 In The Field:  Methods In Communication Studies / Practice

This seminar is a unique opportunity to explore methods of integrating creative and academic practice. The objective is to explore, plan, and contextualize your existing or emerging practice. The class will address ethical, aesthetic, and practical concerns of both production and research-creation. We will explore a range of methods including research-creation, ethnography, and participatory processes. The class will incorporate readings, screenings, and a constructive environment for feedback on the creative project you develop for this course. For example, you might; create a website, radio project, short video, installation, digital photo essay, exhibit or another form of media production. While the course is not intended to offer instruction in any one media form, it provides an opportunity to develop projects, share resources, set reasonable goals, and explore ways that your practice or “research-creation” might extend beyond the classroom and into a public venue.

 

COMS 646/886 Alternative Media

Alternative Media have undergone radical realignments and redefinition over the last two decades arising from new media and networking technologies and their use by global social justice movements. With the emergence of the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation) in Chiapas, Mexico in 1994, the birth of Indymedia in the late 1990s, through Arab Spring, and Occupy Movements since 2011, one could say that alternative media are now in a continuous state of repositioning and reconstitution. Yet, historically, this has always been the case. What is alternative? has always been in dialectical tension with social, political and cultural hegemonies and technological innovations. Alternative media has typically referred to media and information sources that fall outside or challenge the mainstream media and have been typologized as: autonomous, independent, activist, community, grassroots, radical, anarchist, dissident, small, and underground media. This course will undertake atheoretical, conceptual and practical examination of alternative media by exploring various historical alternative media manifestations, including community video production, participatory and lo-fi radio, zines, tactical media, hacking, the open-source software movement, design justice and data activism. We will look at historical samplings, theorize, and explore some culturally specific examples of resistance, social activism and social movements. This course is designed as participatory, encouraging you to explore the theoretical and creative possibilities, as well as limits of alternative media. You are asked to actively participate in class discussions and exercises, based on readings, viewings, soundings, as well as contributing your own consumption of and experiments with alternative media. You will contribute to course content by sharing research, exercises and projects with fellow students, generating critical discussion and getting feedback. 


Research activities

Research Funding

2021/04 - 2024/03 On the Margins of the Platform Economy: Community-led Responses to Technical Gentrification, Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Insight Grants, ($93,410 CAD), Primary Investigator with Tamara Vukov (External Co-Investigator), Fenwick Mckelvey (Collaborator), Norma Rantisi (Collaborator)
 
2020 - 2022 The digital Divides: The Impact of Montreal’s AI Ecosystems on Parc Extension: Housing,Environment and Access to Services' Concordia Office of Community Engagement Anchor Point Funding, ($80,000 CAD), Primary Investigator with Fenwick Mckelvey and Norma Rantisi

2019/5 - 2022/5 Mamabase-Insu^tv: participatory community media for civic engagement and memory preservation,” Social Sciences & Humanities Research Council, SSHRC Partnership Engage Grant, ($24,916 CAD), Primary Investigator

2019/4 - 2021/4 More Than Data and Algorithms: The Place of the Human in Smart Climate Adaptation, Office of The Vice-President, Research And Graduate Studies Individual Seed Program ($7,000 CAD), Primary Investigator



Publications

Collectif de chercheur-euse-s et militant-e-s (Alessandra Renzi, Tamara Vukov, Emanuel Guay, Sepideh Shahamati, Yannick Baumann, Simone Chen, et Montserrat Emperador Badimon) (2022). "Le BigData contre le droit à un chez-soi? Le secteur de l’intelligence artificielle et l’embourgeoisement de Parc-Extension" Revue de la Ligue des droitset libertés, Printemps/Été 2022.

Renzi, A. with Digital Divides Project. (2022) Digital Divides – The Impact of Montreal’s AI Ecosystems on Parc Extension: Housing, Environment and Access to Services. CBAR Network in Parc-Extension: April 2022.
https://communityactionresearchparcex.ca/projects/digital-divides-the-impact-of-montreals-ai-ecosystems-on-parc-extension-housing-environment-and-access-to-services-april-2022/

Renzi, A. with Fossés numérique (2022)– Les répercussions des écosystèmes d’IA de Montréal sur Parc Extension : logement, environnement, et accés auxservices. Réseau CBAR dans Parc-Extension: April 2022. https://communityactionresearchparcex.ca/projects/digital-divides-the-impact-of-montreals-ai-ecosystems-on-parc-extension-housing-environment-and-access-to-services-april-2022/

Renzi, A. (2020) “Data Acquisition, Data Analytics and Data Articulations: DIY Accountability Tools and Resistance in Indonesia” in Traganau, G. (ed) Design and Political Dissent: Spaces, Objects, Materiality, NewYork: Routledge.

Renzi, A. with Parc Extension Anti-Eviction Mapping Project “(2020) MIL façons de se faire évincer: L’ Université de Montréal et la gentrification à Parc-extension| The University of Montreal and gentrification in Park Extension,” Report, 3 June 2020 https://antievictionmontreal.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/MIL-fa%C3%A7ons-de-se-faire-%C3%A9vincer-LUniversit%C3%A9-de-Montr%C3%A9al-et-la-gentrification-%C3%A0-Parc-Extension.pdf

Renzi, A. (2020) Hacked Transmissions: Technology and Connective Activism in Italy, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 

Renzi, A., Aaron Vansintjan, Emanuel Guay, Tamara Vukov and Vijay Kolinjivadi (2020)“Universities can squeeze out low-income residents in cities like Montréal” March 8, 2020, https://theconversation.com/universities-can-squeeze-out-low-income-residents-in-cities-like-montreal-131834

Renzi, A. (2019) “Telestreet – Pirates of the Airwaves” in Coleman Gabriella et al.(eds.) Hack_Curio: Decoding the Cultures of Hacking. https://hackcur.io/telestreet-pirates-of-the-airwaves/.

Renzi, A. (2018) “Jakarta: social and housing justice should not be a gamble on global market’s table,” The Conversation, January 30, 2018. https://bit.ly/2F7MMMH

Renzi, A. (2018) “Jakarta should not turn to mass evictions as part of city planning for economic success,The Independent, London, UK, Saturday 3 February 2018 (Republished from The Conversation). https://bit.ly/2FcK4FS 

Renzi, A. (2018) “Jakarta: keadilan sosial dan perumahan jangan jadi taruhan di pasar keuangan global,” The Conversation Indonesia30 January 2018.  https://bit.ly/2FjR3Nj

Renzi, A. (2018) “Rumah di Jakarta dan Pertaruhan di PasarKeuangan Global,” Koran Sulindo, 4 February 2018, (Republished from The Conversation Indonesia) https://bit.ly/2SK0P36

Renzi, A. (2018) “Penggusuran di Jakarta:Keadilan dan Peradilan Sosial Seharusnya Tak Dipertaruhkan di Pasar Global,” Matamata Politik, February 10, 2018. (Republished from The Conversation Indonesia) https://bit.ly/2u8tmoB

Renzi, A. (2017) “Entangled Data: Modelling and Resistance in the Megacity,” Open! Platform for Arts, Culture and the Public Domain. T/A/S Issue. http://www.onlineopen.org/entangled-data-modelling-and-resistance-in-the-megacity.

Renzi, A. and Langlois, G. (2015) “Data /Activism” Elmer, G. et al. (eds.) Compromised Data: From social media to Big Data, London: Bloomsbury, pp. 202–225.

Renzi, A. (2015) “Info-capitalism, platform politics and the coding of resistance,” Interface. Journal for and about Social Movements, Volume 7, Issue 3 – November 2015, http://www.interfacejournal.net.

Renzi, A., and Greg Elmer (2013) “Property Must Be Defended. Investing in the Bio-political City-Sacrifice” Theory,Culture & Society, September2013; vol. 30, 5: pp. 45-69.

Renzi, A. (2013) “On the Currency of Somatic Architectures of Exchange – Interview with New Media Artist Ricardo Dominguez,” Scapegoat: architecture/landscape/political economy. Issue 5, Currency, January 2013,pp. 321–334.

Renzi, A., and Greg Elmer (2012) Infrastructure Critical: Sacrifice at Toronto’s G8/G20Summit. Winnipeg: Arbiter Ring Publishing.

Renzi, A. and R. Buiani (2012)“Activism beyond the Interface: notes on an itinerant production lab” E-fagia (ed.) Subversive Technologies, Digital Event ’11 Toronto Catalogue, pp. 3–5. 

Renzi, A. (2011) “What Is the Politics of Platform Politics?” Television & New Media. Volume 12, Issue 5 September 2011,pp. 483–485.

Renzi, A. (2010) “Of Scapegoats and Garbage in Naples: a review of a collaborative documentary,” Scapegoat: architecture/landscape/political economy Issue 00,Property, December 2010, pp. 22–23.

Renzi, A. and L. Kane (2009) “To Be Done With The Boredom Of The Bus: A Radio Play,” Inflexions: a journal of research creation. Issue 3, Oct. 2009, Montreal: The Sense Lab. Http://www.senselab.ca/inflexions/volume_3/tangents/toronto/WAIT.pdf 

Renzi, A. (2008) “Switches, Meshworks and Squatted Spaces: Fragmented Thoughts on Activist Research” Frank Eckardt et al. (eds.)

 MEDIACITY: Situations, Practices and Encounters, Berlin: Franke &Timme, pp. 197–223.

Renzi, A. (2008) “The Space of Tactical Media,” Megan Boler (ed). Tactics in Hard Times: Practices and Spaces of New Media. Cambridge:MIT Press, pp. 71–100.

Renzi, A. (2008) “Tactical Media Pattern” Doug, Schuler (ed.). Liberating Voices! A Pattern Language for Communication Revolution.Boston: MIT Press, pp. 505–6.

Anand,S., Renzi, A. and M. Boler (2008) “Media Interventions and Art Practices:Interview with Shaina Anand” Megan Boler (ed). Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times. Cambridge: MIT Press, pp. 323–341.

Renzi, A and S. Turpin (2007) “Nothing Fails Like Prayer: Why the Cult of San Precario is More Dangerous than Religion” Fuse Magazine. Art Culture Politics, issue 25/2007, pp. 25–35.

Renzi, A. (2006) “DiscoVolante Tv: volontà di espressione tra cultura e politica” Inchiesta, XXXVI: 152, Aprile - Giugno2006, Bari: Edizioni Dedalo, pp. 75–80.

Renzi, A. (2004) “Identity and Transculture in VICE VERSA,” Collegium Antropologicum: 28(1) 2004, pp. 109–113.  

 


Data Visualization

Data Visualization

With Parc Extension Anti-Eviction Mapping “Community Displacement Map” and Community Power Map” https://antievictionmontreal.org/en/maps/ 2021

Alessandra Renzi, Dietmar Offenhuber and Nathan Felde, Art of the March: A Documentary Project, 2017-18, http://artofthemarch.boston/ 

Alessandra Renzi, Skye Moret Ferguson, The Urban Poor Consortium. Why Jakarta Floods, multimedia posters and teaching modules Jakarta, September 2016. 

Alessandra Renzi, Skye Moret Ferguson, The Urban Poor Consortium. Real vs. Ideal Solutions, multimedia posters and teaching modules Jakarta, September 2016

Video

The Ciliwung Institute - Jakarta, Indonesia, directed by Alessandra Renzi. Documentary, digital, color, 5 min., USA/Canada/Indonesia, 2016. In The Shoreline Project, produced by Elizabeth Miller. http://educators.theshorelineproject.org/portfolio/bang-kodir/ 

Is the City a Laboratory? Produced and directed by Etienne Turpin (anexact office). Video Installation, USA/Canada/Indonesia, 80 min. 2016. https://vimeo.com/191120290 

Preempting Dissent, Policing the Crisis, directed by Greg Elmer and Any Opel. Produced by Boaz Beeri, Steven James May, Alessandra Renzi. Documentary, digital, color, 41 min., Canada, 2014. https://vimeo.com/303105383 

Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi: After The Future, directed by Gary Genosko. Produced by Greg Elmer, Alessandra Renzi, Steven James May, Ganaele Langlois, Erika Biddle. Profile, digital, color, 24 min., Canada, 2012. https://vimeo.com/25367464 


Socially Engaged Art

Public Engagement and Performance Art

Tell: Detroit, with Broken City Lab etal. Digital Storytelling Project,Detroit, MI, Mercantile Factory, 16 March 2013. 

Activism Beyond the Interface: The Sandbox Project, Multimedia Project #6, with Roberta Buiani. The Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, 8th Encuentro: Cities | Bodies |Action: The Politics of Passion in the Americas, Universidade de São Paulo, SESC Vila Mariana, 12-19 January 2013, São Paulo, Brazil.

Activism Beyond the Interface: The Sandbox Project, Multimedia Project #5, with Roberta Buiani. DysTorpia New Media Series, Queens Museum of Art,Queens, NY, 14-15 September 2012.

Activism Beyond the Interface: The Sandbox Project, Multimedia Project #4, with Roberta Buiani. Technoscience as Activism, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Troy, NY, 27 June - 29 June 2012. 

Activism Beyond the Interface: The Sandbox Project, Multimedia Project #3, with Roberta Buiani. Artivistic 2012: Promiscuous Infrastructures, SKOL Gallery, Montreal, Canada, 4 April 2012. 

Activism Beyond the Interface: The Sandbox Project, Multimedia Project #2, with Roberta Buiani. Festival Transmediale 2012, Berlin, Germany, February 2, 2012.

The Institute for Community Inquiry, with Eugenio Salas, Centre for Incidental Activisms, Art Gallery of York University, 13 January – 19 March 2011. 

Activism Beyond the Interface: The Sandbox Project, Multimedia Project #1, with Roberta Buiani. E-fagia,Digital Event ’11: Subversive Technology, Toronto Free Gallery, Toronto, 1 October 2012. 


Media Appearances

CBC, Erika Morris. “Montreal Non-Profits Are Buying up Apartments to Keep RentsLow | CBC News.” CBC, May 28, 2022. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/montreal-non-profit-housing-groups-1.6468974.

Le Devoir, McKenna, Alain. “L’ IA montréalaise accusée d’exacerber la crise du logement dans Parc-Extension.” May 5, 2022. https://www.ledevoir.com/economie/707373/logement-l-ia-montrealaise-accusee-d-exacerber-la-crise-du-logement-dans-parc-extension.

Boston Public Radio, Callie Crossley, “Preserving the Present: Efforts To Archive Ongoing BLM Protests.” Under the Radar with Callie Crossley. National: WGBH Boston Public Radio, October 16, 2020. https://www.wgbh.org/news/national-news/2020/10/16/preserving-the-present-efforts-to-archive-ongoing-blm-protests.

Global News, City of Montreal buys Hutchison Plaza in Parc-Ex for social housing” September 10, 2020 https://globalnews.ca/news/7325665/city-of-montreal-hutchison-place-social-housing/

Global News, “Montreal buys Prac-Extension building for social housing” September 10, 2020 https://globalnews.ca/video/rd/1b8eb6e6-f388-11ea-a0a4-0242ac110003/?jwsource=cl

Le Devoir, Aurélie Lanctot, “La naissance d’un quartier,” 10 Julliet 2020 https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/chroniques/582209/la-naissance-d-un-quartier

Le Devoir, Jeanne Corriveau, “Embourgeoisement de Parc-Extension: le campus MIL montré du doigt,” 3 juin 2020 https://www.ledevoir.com/societe/580081/embourgeoisement-de-parc-extension-le-campus-mil-montre-du-doigt

CTV News, “Newcampus changes face of Park Extension. A new Universite de Montreal complex is changing the face of the diverse Park Extension neighbourhood, community groups say,” 3 June 2020) https://montreal.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1970617

Journalde Montreal, Guillaume Cyr, “Le prix des logementscontinue de bondir dans Parc-Ex,” 3 juin 2020 https://www.journaldemontreal.com/2020/06/03/campus-mil-le-prix-des-logements-continue-de-bondir-dans-parc-ex

Journal Metro, Zacharie Goudreault, “Parc-Extension: hausse des évictions et desloyers en raison du campus MIL,” 3 juin 2020 https://journalmetro.com/actualites/montreal/2457648/parc-extension-hausse-des-evictions-et-des-loyers-en-raison-du-campus-mil/

Park Extension News, Avleen K. Mokha, “UdM campus threatens housing and community in Park Extension, report says.” June 3, 2020 http://www.px-news.com/park-extension-anti-eviction-mapping-project-universite-de-montreal-mil-campus-housing-community-threat/

Link Newspaper, Marcus Bankuti, “Activists Urge UdeM to Mitigate Harms to Park Ex ‘Studentification’ of Neighbourhood Threatens Low-Income Residents,” June 5,2020 https://thelinknewspaper.ca/article/activists-urge-udem-to-mitigate-harms-to-park-ex

Radio Canada International, Paloma Martínez “Projet de cartographie anti-éviction dans un quartier défavorisé de Montréal,” 15 juin 2020 https://www.rcinet.ca/fr/2020/06/15/projet-de-cartographie-anti-eviction-dans-un-quartier-defavorise-de-montreal/

Archival Fever Podcast:“Interview with Dr. Alessandra Renzi and Dr. Dietmar Offenhuber,” Episode 2:Bonus Interview. January 21, 2018. https://soundcloud.com/user-302920545-578515930/episode-2-bonus-interview

Boston Neighborhood Network, “Vision is Power!” BNN News, February 8, 2018 at 1 p.m.

WBUR-Boston’s National Public Radio: “You Can Now See The Posters From Boston’s Women’s March Online,” The ARTery, http://www.wbur.org/artery/2018/01/22/womens-march-poster-archive, January 22, 2018

The Boston Globe: “Digital archive of signs from last year’s Boston Women’s March now available online” https://bit.ly/39FkZkN, January 21, 2018

WBUR-Boston’sNational Public Radio: “Under the Radar: Are Protest Signs And Mementos Meaningful Trash Or Historical Treasures?” Under The Radar with Callie Crossley, https://www.wgbh.org/news/under-the-radar-with-callie-crossley, January 19, 2018

The Boston Globe: “Volunteers begin to sort through signs from Women’s March,” 
https://bit.ly/37ziLl5, April 1, 2017
The Boston Globe: “PHOTOS: In South Boston, a warehouse full of signs. More than two months after the Women’s March,volunteers catalogued more than a thousand signs.”
https://bit.ly/37DcG7m, April 1, 2017

The Boston Globe: “Archivists will sort through signs from the Boston Women’s March this weekend https://bit.ly/2ZOdjrY, March 29, 2017

The Atlantic: “What Happens to Those Handmade Posters From the Women’s Marches,” https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/01/what-happens-to-those-handmade-posters-from-the-womens-marches/514373/ (Jan. 25, 2017).
All Things Considered on WGBH: “Saving The Signs From Boston's Women's March,” http://news.wgbh.org/2017/01/23/local-news/listen-saving-signs-bostons-womens-march (Jan. 23, 2017)
Bustle: “What Happens To All The Women’s March Signs Now? These Professors Are Preserving The Boston March's Signs For An Important Reason,”http://huntnewsnu.com/2017/02/qa-professors-preserve-womens-march-signs/(Jan. 25, 2017).

The Huntington News: “Q&A:Professors preserve Women’s March signs,” http://huntnewsnu.com/2017/02/qa-professors-preserve-womens-march-signs/(Jan. 25, 2017).

The Chronicle of Higher Education: “In Discarded Women’s March Signs, Professors Saw a Chance to Save History,” http://www.chronicle.com/article/In-Discarded-Women-s-March/238987(Jan. 24, 2017)

E-commerce Times: “Twitter Cards Users Get to Play With a Full Analytics Deck,” http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/79860.html (Jan. 27, 2014).

ECT News Network:Vivian Wagner, “Portrait of the Artist as a Social Media Fan,” http://www.ectnews.com/perl/section/vivian_wagner/ (December 28,2013).

CKUT25 radio (90.3 FM): “Criminalization of Dissent after the Financial Crisis,” Live streaming of brown bag talk, http://ckut.ca/c/ (March 8, 2013).

 

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