Preconference: Network(ed) Histories

Network(ed) Histories


Sponsored by the Communication History Division


Organizer: Lars Lundgren


Prague, Czech Republic

May 24, 2018


CALL FOR PAPERS


In contemporary communication research the network has become an almost ubiquitous concept, albeit to a very large degree dominated by a contemporary understanding of networks in relation to the social and the digital. Yet this omnipresent, contemporary usage of “networks” in reference to social media is rarely contextualized in terms of the many other kinds of communications networks that have existed in the past as well as the present. Given the obvious significance of social media in transforming social, cultural and political life, communications scholars have made the impacts and uses of networks their chief object of inquiry, rather than focusing on questions of origin, change over time, or historical precedent. Yet historical research into communications networks may help us to both reassess the significance of communications networks in the present and broaden our understanding of their role in the past.

This preconference takes as its starting point the premise that the history of networks is fundamental to the history of communication itself. Investigating networks naturally raises historical questions, since networks evolve and develop over time. To take but one example, material media infrastructures frequently outlive the media for which they were constructed; new media networks often retrace their institutional and infrastructural footprints. The social, institutional, and intellectual networks of communication studies have likewise shaped the research field over time. Historical research into the origins, evolution, impacts, and legacies of communication networks thus offers an opportunity to understand how they have historically shaped mass media content, institutions, patterns of control, censorship, and surveillance, audiences and reception, temporal and spatial imaginations and more.

This preconference also aims to reassess the significance of networks in communication history by bringing together historical research into both social and material networks, exploring how these networks have evolved over time, and with what implications. Like any theoretical construction, the distinction between the social and material in relation to networks is to some degree a false dichotomy. Papers that problematize, and/or bridge, this distinction are therefore particularly welcome. The history of communications networks entails a very broad range of questions. The following is a non-exclusive list of domains that we see as relevant to this topic. This list is intended to spur the imagination, not to discourage would-be submitters. We welcome a wide range of historical approaches to communication networks.

  • broadcast network histories
  • histories of networked communication technologies
  • networks and surveillance
  • networks and social change
  • networks and media revolutions
  • histories of communication research networks
  • networks, centre and periphery
  • networks, ownership and control

Abstracts of 300 words (maximum) should be submitted no later than 30 November 2017. Proposals for full panels are also welcome: these should include a 250-word abstract for each individual presentation, and a 200-word rationale for the panel. Send abstracts to: lars.lundgren@sh.se

Authors will be informed regarding acceptance/rejection for the preconference no later than 11 January 2018. Full papers will need to be submitted no later than 1 May 2018 as these will be posted online and made available to all those participating in the preconference. Early career scholars and graduate students are highly encouraged to submit their work. Please indicate if the research submitted is part of your thesis or dissertation project. The organizers will aim to arrange for discussants to provide an intensive response for graduate students’ projects. There will be a $100 registration fee for all attendees, to cover expenses.

Preconference Organizer: Lars Lundgren, lars.lundgren@sh.se