The British Library – an update

EMHIS members with an interest in British media often need to use the national library of the United Kingdom based near St. Pancras station in London.

For some media historians, like me, it is the most important media archive but it is always changing and keeping up to date is quite a challenge.

I recently spent some time with one of the most experienced curators at the BL and learned a lot which might interest EMHIS colleagues. 

The BBC Transcription Service provided edited recordings of radio programmes for BBC operations around the world.  This is a huge and largely unknown collection of recorded sound containing some critically important recordings mainly from the 1950s onwards.  The BL has an almost complete Transcription Service collection and this has now been digitised, amounting to almost 10 terabytes of data.  It will take a while for a spreadsheet of the file names to be produced but this could be an important new resource for some of us.

All BBC radio newscripts have now been digitised.  That includes several different new bulletins for every day I assume from the late 1920s. Some of these will be put onto the BBC Genome, probably one news script per day. This is another extremely important resource for entangled media historians allowing us to read the news reports as they would have been heard in the last century. 

If I find out any more I will let you know and do contact me if you want more information.


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Report from EMHIS VIII in Gregynog, Wales, 14–16 May

I had the chance to attend, along members of the network, the EMHIS Forum VIII at Gregynog Hall, in Wales, on 14-16 May 2019. The event, organised by Jamie Medhurst (Aberystwyth University) in collaboration with the EMHIS coordinator Marie Cronqvist (Lund University), saw media scholars from many countries gathering in the gorgeous mansion (and its friendly ghost), whether they have been working with EMHIS for a long time or were, like me, newcomers. It has been a true pleasure, as a young researcher, to attend this event, as I have been following closely its activities for a while.

The theme of this Forum was ‘challenges’ and our keynote speaker, Alec Badenoch (Utrecht/Amsterdam), offered a fantastic talk based on his own experience with digital projects, entitled ‘Breakfast at Milliways: a hitchhiker’s reflections on digital projects and the art of the (im)possible’. I think it is safe to say that this keynote was widely enjoyed by the audience, and that it lead to many discussions throughout the event. On the last day of the event, all members discussed their own uses of digital sources, tools and databases. As each of us relies on them differently, this ‘roundtable’ was ideal to share resources and useful links.

The Forum was also an opportunity for the participants to exchange about their own challenges, by bringing to the table a problem they were facing in their work. Problems linked to funding, methodology, or even to a specific source, were all discussed openly. This was, in my opinion, an excellent idea, as it provided support and enriching exchanges for everyone. As a PhD student, it was nice to talk about the problematic source I have been working on, but was not sure how to integrate into my thesis. Moreover, being able to discuss issues on an equal footing with more experienced historians was rather enriching.

Another positive aspect of the event was the wonderful location. Gregynog Hall is a gorgeous building, located in the breathtaking Welsh countryside, which provided the perfect setting for an event favouring networking and exchanges for media historians. I truly appreciated the experience and I am glad to have seen familiar faces from last year’s Summer School on Radio History, as well as many new ones. Hopefully, I will have to attend many more of these events in the future.

Richard Legay, C²DH, University of Luxembourg

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EMHIS VIII coming up on 14–16 May

This week, the EMHIS network members are finishing up their presentations for the upcoming EMHIS Forum VIII, which will take place 14–16 of May, 2019, at the beautiful Gregynog Hall outside Newtown in Wales. A theme for our forum this time is “challenges”. We are grateful to our host, Jamie Medhurst at the University of Aberystwyth, who is the main organizer of the event!

On the first day, we will address challenges both in terms of  challenges for media history in general as well as coming challenges and new (ad)ventures for the EMHIS network. On the second day, each participant will present his or her own current challenge of a theoretical or methodological kind, bringing to the table a specific source or concrete problem.

A focus on the third day will be on digital media history and outreach. Our special guest and keynote this time will be Alexander Badenoch, who is an assistant professor in media and cultural studies at Utrecht University and also endowed professor of transnational media at Vrije Universieit Amsterdam. Alec is also part of the team from Transnational Radio Encounters (TRE) behind the award-winning streaming platform Radio Garden. We are delighted to have Alec with us – along with a number of new network members from Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Denmark and Lithuania!

EMHIS VIII will be our final network conference with funding from STINT’s Institutional Grant. We are ever so grateful to STINT for these first six years of funding, which has enabled no less than eight internal conferences, one international conference with an open call at Lund University 2016, plus a number of research exchanges between Lund, Hamburg and Bournemouth. The network is established and will move on. More information to come about this.

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Report from 7th ECREA conference in Lugano

Some of us EMHIS members came together in wonderful Lugano on 31 October to 3 November for the 7th European Communication Conference (ECC). The conference had the overall theme “Centres and Peripheries: Communication, Research, Translation” and some 1 500 scholars attended.

The Communication History section had a number of fine sessions. EMHIS members Sune Bechmann Pedersen, Marie Cronqvist, Hans-Ulrich Wagner and Philipp Seuferling were among the presenters. On Thursday, Sune presented his and Marie’s paper entitled “Foreign correspondents in the Cold War: Politics and everyday life of East German journalists abroad” in a journalism history panel chaired by Nelson Ribeiro. That same day, Hans-Ulrich also presented his paper “What happens with refugees’ stories and memories when they come to European immigration countries?” in a session panel on media and memory construction. On Friday, Marie presented her work on East German radio with the paper “Conflicting scripts and shortwave listeners: Radio Berlin International (RBI) and its Swedish audience in the autumn of 1989”. And on Saturday, Philipp joined a panel on Mobile Socialities under the Audience and Reception Studies section. His paper was “Media practices among historical refugees”.

Sune Bechmann Pedersen presented in a session on “Journalism, facts and manipulation”

In the Business meeting on Thursday, EMHIS member Nelson Ribeiro stepped down from his post as section chair for Communication History section and his successor Gabriele Balbi and his team entered stage. Gabriele was also the main host for the whole ECREA conference, and he and his associates along with other staff and students did a great job arranging the whole thing.

Christian Schwarzenegger, Nelson Ribeiro and Gabriele Balbi at the Communication History section business meeting.

Even though it was raining, at times even heavily, the conference was indeed a success and we had a very good time socializing with other media historians as well as our colleagues in other areas of media and communication research. And even through the clouds, lake Lugano was stunningly beautiful.


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My trip to Canada – BU Acorn Funds

Gloria Khamkar and Anne F. MacLennan

In October 2018, I visited York University, Canada to meet Dr Anne F. MacLennan, Associate Professor & Chair, York University, Canada, under the Bournemouth University’s Acorn Funds scheme for Early Career Researchers. The aim of this trip was to explore the possibility of developing a collaborative research project in the field of community radio for migrants in the UK and Canada. I spent a week in Canada to work on this task. As an outcome of this meeting, I am applying for the British Academy Small Research Grants 2018 as a main applicant, along with Dr Anne as a co-applicant.

This proposed research project would examine the culture of radio catering to South Asian migrant communities in the UK and Canada. It will examine the changing culture of radio for the South Asian migrant communities in the UK and Canada by interrogating the surrounding questions of the existence and relevance of this medium. Theproposed research project focuses on ‘impact’ and is timely.

Gloria Khamkar

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Hands on Transnational Radio History

EMHIS members at the Summer School in Luxembourg, from left Kristin Skoog, Gloria Khamkar, and Hans-Ulrich Wagner.

A report from the “Transnational Radio History” Summer School at C2DH, Luxembourg University, 18–22 June 2018

A seminar room stuffed with fascinating old and still working radio sets and recording devices, two excursions to historic sites and buildings where transnational radio history took place, the production of podcasts, all this along with a series of papers by researchers from Chile to Russia, from Morocco to India. This made the Summer School “Transnational Radio History” a truly amazing and inspiring event. The Summer School took place at the “Centre for Contemporary and Digital History” (C2DH) at Luxembourg University from 18 to 22 June 2018. Professor Andreas Fickers along with PhD candidate Richard Legay hosted the event and three additional experts were also invited; one of them Professor Alexander Badenoch from Utrecht University, the other two Dr Kristin Skoog from Bournemouth University and Dr Hans-Ulrich Wagner from the Hans-Bredow-Institute at Universität Hamburg, both steering committee members of EMHIS.

Transnational histories of the 20thcentury

“Hands on history!” – Andreas Fickers, director of the C2DH, claimed and therefore one can say that “hands on transnational radio history” might be the headline of what international researchers in this field did during their stay in the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. The main objective of the Summer School was to explore the history of transnational radio in the twentieth century, with specific focus on the technical, material and architectural histories of radio, and also how to grasp cross-border histories when dealing with infrastructure and institutions, with aesthetics and communities of listeners. The objective was also to explore methodologies, archives and source material for doing transnational radio history, and the challenges that one, no doubt, will encounter.

PhD candidates and Postdocs were invited to discuss their research in the field of transnational radio history. Among them was Dr Gloria Khamkar, a member of EMHIS Network at Bournemouth University. Gloria presented a paper on her doctoral research “The Evolution of British Asian Radio in England (1960-2004)” in a panel titled ‘Between the Local and the Global.’ Gloria discussed her source material and played an audio clip from one of the Asian radio programmes produced by the BBC Local Radio in Leicester in the 1970s. Gloria also shared an audio clip from her own weekly radio show Suhaana Safar, broadcast on Southampton’s (UK) Asian and ethnic radio station Unity101, which was a captivating listening experience.

My favourite document

In planning the Summer School, Andreas, Richard, Kristin, Alec, and Hans-Ulrich were keen that the focus of the presentations and discussions would lie on the historical source material. The idea from the start was to encourage all participants to talk about a single document and this approach turned out to be quite fruitful. Kristin for example explored the intermedial and transnational entanglements of Radio Pictorial, a radio fan magazine published in the UK in the 1930s. Hans-Ulrich played a disk of 1931 staging urban maritime sounds of Hamburg as a port city, and put forward for discussion a four-step-model for analysing sound documents of the past.

On site

Additional highlights were the several excursions during this Summer School week. One afternoon the group visited the new studios and headquarter of the RTL Group as well as the transmitter site in Junglinster, from which Radio Luxembourg was transmitted. We also visited the Centre National de l’Audiovisuel in Dudelange where we learned more about Luxembourg’s audiovisual heritage and archival practices. The most striking trip took us to Berus, a village in the Saarland in Germany, to the transmitter site of Europe 1. This site was not only an architectural gem with its curved roof and glass panels (almost cathedral like) but also one with a rich and fascinating history. Master of Engineering Axel Böcker at the State Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments gave an inspiring talk and tour of the building, and after lunch – served outside in the sunshine – the day continued with presentations by the Summer School participants as well as a Q&A with former engineers who had worked at the site. The day ended with a fantastic art performance by the Liquid Penguine ensemble.

The transmission station of ‘Europe No 1’, Überherrn, Saarland. Photo: Hans-Ulrich Wagner

Overall a great variety of topics were discussed at the Summer School. There were presentations by Dr Francisco Garrido (National Natural History Museum of Santiago) on “Modernizing a Nation: RCA VICTOR in Chile, 1928-1973”, by Dr Jose Emilio Perez (Université Paris-Sorbonne) on “The Origins of the Free Radio Movement in Madrid (1976-1989)”, byEddie Bohan (Independent broadcaster) on “Transnational Broadcasting from Ireland”, by Dr Joanna Walewska (University of Torun) and Dr Slawomir Wieczorek (University of Wroclaw) on “Radio Broadcasting in Silesia” after WWII and the “Soundscape of Breslau/Wroclaw in 1945”, by Maryam El Moumni (Universität Cottbus) on “The Cultural Significance of Telecommunication Heritage Sites” and many more.

It was truly an enriching experience, with so much to take forward and so many ideas to digest. The concept of ‘entanglement’ proved to be a fruitful concept to work with when approaching transnational radio history. For example, to consider the entanglements of materiality, politics, people and networks, intermediality, and of course the transnational. To further consider radio as part of a media ensemble/repertoire. A call for more integrated histories was made as well as a call to collaborate – to do transnational radio history it is necessary to bring people with different languages, backgrounds, traditions and cultures together. A clear message emerged from Summer School: Transnational radio history is alive!

Gloria, Kristin, Hans-Ulrich

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EMHIS went #ICA18

#ICA18 on the John Lennon Wall in Prague. Photo: Philipp Seuferling

May is not only the traditional time for EMHIS-meetings in Bournemouth but also for the International Communication Association’s (ICA) annual conferences! This year, the media and communication studies megaevent was held in Prague and gathered 3,500 scholars from all around the globe to discuss the theme “Voices”. EMHIS-members Philipp Seuferling and Stephanie Seul were among them. Hot weather and the many distractions of Prague’s beautiful Old Town just outside the conference hotels didn’t keep us from delving into the overwhelming number of panels and engaging in academic exchange.

Stephanie presented a paper entitled “A Forum for Self-reflection on the Jewish War Experience: The German-Jewish Press, 1914-1918” to the Communication History Division. The paper highlighted the importance of Jewish newspapers and magazines for the communal and intellectual life of German-Jewry during the First World War and analysedthe discourses on the Jewish war experience in selected periodicals of contrasting religious and political stance. The outbreak of war triggered a lively discussion on the current and future position of the Jews within the German nation in Jewish papers. Initial hopes that the war would increase Jewish recognition and equalitywere, however, thwarted, for the war led to a rise in antisemitism and thus to experiences of exclusion at home and at the front.

I – Philipp – presented a paper on “Media, Memory, and Refugee Activism Across History” within the newly founded Activism Communication, and Social Justice Interest Group. In the presentation, I historically underpinned how mediations of suffering and forced migration make use of memory cultures, e.g. of Flight and Expulsion after the Second World War or of the Holocaust, which can serve as a motivation for refugee activism and volunteering. He showed how in Germany, memories of previous migrations played an important role in volunteering movements for Biafra in 1968, Vietnam in 1978 and the so-called “refugee crisis” in 2015.

Attending sessions mainly on media and migration – i.e. outside the Communication History Division – many panels however left me reflecting on the role of media history and the necessary interventions it can deliver to media and communication studies. A few panels would have gained from deeper historical contextualization and less rhetoric of newness and novelty of certain phenomena. An engaging “Blue Sky Workshop: Doing Communication History: A Methodological Roundtable” reflected on the challenges and responsibilities media and communication historians face and have to take on – which is exactly where approaches as the one EMHIS is offering are crucial for informing research on media in society from historical, transnational and entangled perspectives, which often seem neglected.

Yet, the conference program not only offered stimulating panels, but also left enough room for many receptions – opportunities to meet old and new faces, which was only encouraged by the many open bars and free buffets on a daily basis.

Ultimately, the final conference day offered a last highlight: legendary scholar Elihu Katz himself gave a “Monday Plenary” lecture on his work with Paul Lazarsfeld back in the days. His insights demonstrated how we are still trying to understand the same phenomena, namely the multiple roles and impacts of media and communication in societal context, be it in the 1940s or in 2018. The fundamental questions haven’t changed, which maybe is the most vivid argument for considering the history of it all.

Philipp Seuferling

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EMHIS Forum VII in Bournemouth May 21–23, 2018

After our successful “final conference” last year in Lund, we just decided to continue our work in EMHIS. The original STINT Institutional Grant funding was extended in December 2017, which makes it possible for us to continue collaborating until end of June 2019. We decided to set up a seventh EMHIS Forum in Bournemouth to work on a new and exciting joint digital project. We are working with setting up an online platform which will present key documents in media history mainly for teaching purposes. The aim is to make archival documents available online, easy accessible for university students and teachers alike. In this pilot project will hopefully illustrate the benefits of an entangled media histories perspective. We have the privilege of working together with and learning from Lawrence Holmes, a skilled young web designer who is also an alumnus from Bournemouth University. Co-ordinating this work is Dr Hans-Ulrich Wagner (Hamburg) from our steering committee, and he is aided by Gloria Khamkar (Bournemouth), Allan Burnett (Lund), Jamie Medhurst (Aberystwyth) and Philipp Seuferling (Södertörn). Continue reading

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EMHIS continues

There has been a silence here on the blog regarding the EMHIS activities after our final conference in May, but believe it or not, the EMHIS network still exists! Last week, four of us members in the steering committee (Marie Cronqvist, Hans-Ulrich Wagner, Christoph Hilgert and Hugh Chignell) went back to “the conference scene of the crime” at The Old Bishop’s Palace in Lund in order to plan for a possible continuation of EMHIS beyond the STINT grant 2013–2017.

The meeting was productive. Among other things, we decided to try to continue the network in different ways and we invite others to stay in contact with us via our different channels. The blog here will be updated, although a bit less frequently than Facebook and Twitter, with news regarding upcoming EMHIS conferences and other related things. We are looking forward to staying in touch with everyone interested in tracing entanglements in media history.

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EMHIS conference in May

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