Ed McLuskie, Susanne Kinnebrock & Christian Schwarzenegger: European Communication History II: An Introduction to Theoretical Perspectives

This issue of medien & zeit follows up a range of case studies aimed at revealing communication histories that were analyzed in Part I, studies conducted in light of geographical and cultural borders. They highlighted historical artifacts; examined their availability in university curricula and research centers; addressed for different countries the status and history of communication history as an academic profession; and highlighted strengths, limitations, and prospects awaiting a distinctly European account of the historical record. Such scholarship seeks to uncover history. Part II aims to turn the matter around, showing how history might inform scholarship. Here, four essays examine theoretical shifts as appropriate to historical shifts that produce rereadings of communication history. Specifically, shifts in historiography from the national to the transnational address the thematic question, “What is European Communication History?”, with theoretical issues and recommendations that take note of the recursive, EU-era problem of the nation in a transnational milieu. Essays in Part II trace this recursiveness to earlier times, preceding the formation of today’s Europe, and locate it along lines — theoretical and material — of communication and media history. Each essay offers ontological and material reasons to reconceptualize European communication history as a transnational project. Three of the four authors make distinctly different cases for communication history as transnational history, suggesting, at the very least, that “the national” cannot and, in fact, has not developed within the geographical borders of the nation. A fourth essay offers reflections on the conduct of European communication history beyond the shift from national to transnational frameworks for theory…

Juraj Kittler: Learning from Braudel A Quest for a Comprehensive History of the Public Sphere

This study argues that despite enduring criticism Habermas’ project of the comprehensive history of the public sphere is still possible if we are willing to adopt some basic methodological strategies pioneered by Fernand Braudel. The opening section contends that the concept of the public sphere itself continues to be intellectually stimulating. Indeed, the enormous impact that Habermas’ work has had on generations of scholars in the West turned it into one of the key concepts that enabled Europeans to gain better understanding of their own history – complex and properly contextualized. The study follows on with a set of epistemological and ontological moves used by Braudel that may help to overcome basic design flaws of the original Habermasian project. In doing so it argues not only for the abandonment of artificially created disciplinary boundaries, but also for overcoming of the traditional borders of nation-states, and indeed of continental confines. Consequently, the paper suggests the idea of a fluid transnational public sphere on global scale with a historical sequence of hegemonic cities at its center, and invites communication historians to cross the comfortable geographic scales of their research in order to better contextualize local, regional, or national histories. Similarly, it conceptualizes both the public sphere as well as evolving communication technologies as composite dialectic constructs that can be understood only in broad social, cultural, political, and economic historical contexts.

Andreas Fickers: Seeing the familiar strange Some reflections about actants, actors and arenas of transnational media history

The essay pleas for a critical reassessment of the nation as long lasting paradigm of historical research on mass media. By presenting the transnational perspective as a useful framework for seeing the familiar strange, the author introduces the three interrelated concepts of actants, actors and arenas as critical tools for the study of transnational media flows. Based on three historical short stories dealing with the emergence of a telegraph infrastructure for news reporting in Sweden, the establishment of a transnational „pirate“ radio and television station in the Saar region, and subversive viewing practices of the Romanian television audience in the 1980s, the authors aims at problematizing the complex spatial and topological nature of transnational mediascape by using an integral media historical approach.

Merja Ellefson: Re-mapping Journalism History Development of the Pres in the Swedish Empire an Its Former colonies Finland, Estonia and Livonia until the Early 20th Century

With history writing in general, press history is often linked to the framework of the nation state. Such nationalist approaches may, however, lead to a fragmented view of history. We should remember that many current European nation states have fairly short histories, and, even old kingdoms, such as Sweden, have changed shape several times. During the 17th and 18th century, the Swedish Empire included Finland, Estonia, Livonia, Ingria, Pomerania, Wismar and Bremen/Verden, and the previously Danish areas in the south and northwest. Later, Sweden even had small colonies in Africa and the Caribbean. The empire, however, began to disintegrate during the Great Nordic War. During the 18th century Finland, Estonia and Livonia belonged to the Russian Empire. My purpose is to provide an overview of the development of the press in the Swedish Empire and the 19th century Finland, Estonia and Livonia, and discuss limitations of national perspectives.

Klaus Arnold: Methodological Approaches to European Communication and Media History About comparisons, transfers, and European public sphere

In this paper European communication and media history is described as an emerging field of studies. Considering the methodological concepts for transnational research that were developed in historiography, it is discussed how these concepts are applied in communication and media history. In this specialized field of studies various kinds of comparisons are the most common methodological concepts. Transfers and their repercussions have been analyzed less frequently. Another concept is the analysis of the emergence and the development of transnational institutions. Here research efforts concentrate mainly on the European public sphere. Although all these concepts can be distinguished theoretically and most studies center on one or the other, they are more or less closely intertwined. Since European communication and media studies are still something new, there are numerous options for future research which are discussed at the end of this article.

Rezensionen 4/2011

Horst Pöttker & Christian Schwarzenegger (Hg.): Europäische Öffentlichkeit und journalistische Verantwortung. Köln: Herbert von Halem Verlag 2010, 484 Seiten.
– rezensiert von Richard Solder

Paddy Scannell: Medien und Kommunikation. Herausgegeben und eingeleitet von Matthias Berg und Maren Hartmann. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag 2011, 361 Seiten.
– rezensiert von Roland Burkhart

Erhard Schütz: Echte falsche Pracht. Kleine Schriften zur Literatur. Herausgegeben von Jörg Döring und David Oels. Berlin: Verbrecher Verlag 2011, 586 Seiten.
– rezensiert von Wolfgang R. Langenbucher

Werner Telesko: Das 19. Jahrhundert. Eine Epoche und ihre Medien. Wien [u.a.]: Böhlau 2010, 336 Seiten
– rezensiert von Wolfgang Duchkowitsch

Stefanie Averbeck-Lietz: Kommunikationstheorien in Frankreich. Der epistemologische Diskurs der Sciences de l’information et de la communication (sic) 1975-2005. Berlin: Avinus Verlag 2010, 552 Seiten.
– rezensiert von Ursula E. Koch