Entangled Media Histories

A research network for European media historians since 2013

About the network

Since its commencement in 2013, the Entangled Media Histories (EMHIS) research and teaching network has worked to create an arena for transnational dialogue on the historical dimensions of transborder and transmedial flows through the use of the concept entangled history. Our main academic aim has been to challenge the traditional blind spots in perspective and common methodological nationalism of media historical scholarship. Thus far, media history has tended to be discussed almost exclusively within national contexts (which also includes most “comparative” studies) and from a mono-medial perspective, focussing exclusively on one medium at a time such as for example the press, radio or television. The fact that there are – and always have been – manifold cross-border and cross-medial interrelation has not been properly highlighted.

Today, we see that transnational dialogues of multi-media history begin to take place through the initiation of new academic journals and a series of international conferences, but common research projects or more formal cooperation transcending national borders are still scarce. Given the transnational and multi-media character of media forms, both in the present and in the past, this is of course a problem and a challenge. Present day discourses of transnational flows have made it increasingly futile to be confined to national and mono-medial understandings of both past and contemporary media. The discourse of transnational flows captures a cluster of ideas and phenomena; with its economic and political as well as social and aesthetic dimensions, the transnational is closely entangled with processes of mediatisation.

The two processes of mediatisation and transnational flows, as well as their corresponding discourses, have fed upon each other. Transnational encounters and exchanges have also in the past made the interpretation of media texts an urgent matter in politics, business and everyday life. And the notion of a constantly increasing media output has often been experienced as a global trend, calling for national adaptation. Transnational flows may be seen as one facet and force of mediatisation; at the same time mediatisation may be interpreted as one of the main facets of the transnational. Still, surprisingly much research – apart from neglecting the historical dimensions on the whole – remains focused on only one of these processes, failing to understand their dynamic entanglement.

The EMHIS network, today consisting of almost 30 researchers from many different countries, brings together these sets of historical perspectives on past and contemporary mediatisation, as well as meet the need for internalisation in the subject area. In the first six years of its existence, EMHIS was funded by the Swedish foundation STINT’s so-called Institutional Grant, whose main aim is to strengthen Swedish research and higher education by developing and establishing international partnerships. Within EMHIS, this was done through the intellectual exchange and cooperation between three different academic sites: the Section for Media History at the Department of Communication and Media, Lund University, Sweden (main co-ordinator); the Centre for Media History at Bournemouth University, Great Britain (partner); and the Research Centre Media History at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research and Universität Hamburg, Germany (partner).

With complementary areas of expertise, the theoretical approaches and emphasis on the transnational and multi-media dimensions – that is, the entangled nature – of media history are common to all network members. Furthermore, the EMHIS network aims to provide an arena for both PhD students and senior researchers to explore and discuss new ways of studying media history in a bottom-up style, as well as to enhance and intensify internationalisation and networking in research and teaching. The network started with theoretical and methodological discussions about the studying multi-layered media histories, not with a fully defined concept or a set of pre-planned projects. The concept of entangled media histories took shape during our joint discussions.

Activities within the network are based upon research exchanges and stays, frequent network conferences (EMHIS Forum), project cooperations and publications by smaller teams of network members, PhD student activities and writing retreats, and a series of common online activities centred around this weblog and in social media (Facebook and Twitter).

The EMHIS steering committee consists of:

Marie Cronqvist, Lund (main coordinator)

Christoph Hilgert, Munich

Hans-Ulrich Wagner, Hamburg

Hugh Chignell, Bournemouth

Kristin Skoog, Bournemouth

Jamie Medhurst, Aberystwyth