Ely Lüthi: Media and Communication as Swiss Cohesive Forces?

The Role of Radio and Supercomputing in Gluing the Country

This paper presents how the Swiss government used media and communication as tools to foster national cohesion and glue the country in several historical times. In particular, focus of this paper is a precise approach Switzerland has to communication, using as case studies the role of radio during the Second World War and that of supercomputers at the end of the 20th century. Through governmental sources (Federal dispatches and official letters), this paper highlights the role and function the Swiss government attributed to these communication means. Following a political economy of communication approach, it underlines how Switzerland saw in communication the perfect instrument to protect the country, increase national unity and connect the various linguistic regions, attributing it a specific pattern of ideas and values, which remained very similar in different historical times although the global forces surrounding the country saw relevant changes throughout the whole 20th century. In particular, the paper shows how Switzerland responded to Nazi-Fasci propaganda during WWII with objective radio news bulletins and programmes vehiculating Swiss values and cultures, as well as how the establishment of the Swiss National Supercomputing Centre in the 1990s pushed the three linguistic regions to overcome their cultural differences and increase the collaborations among them.