What are the premises of the major questions in media theory? Arguing for better questions this contribution notes the persistence of eurocentricism, mediacentricism and technological determinism and the dominance of the experience of what Jared Diamond calls the WEIRD (Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democracies) nations in framing the terms of debate and study.
Anthropology in works such as Larkin (2008) may help defamiliarise the presumptions of western media theory and more clearly address the question of ‘Where is the global “Greenwich Mean Time” of Media Theory?’ Arguing for the need to place the technological present in historical perspective (cf Edgerton, 2008) this contribution makes the case for the primacy of historical and spatial contexts over the immediate moment of technological invention – on which so much attention is customarily focussed. To focus on media technologies and ‘inventions’ without considerations of their context runs the risks of embracing such dangerous simplifications as the idea that their socio-cultural effects can be deduced from their presumed technological ‘essences’ – whereas any given technology may very well come to have quite different significance in varying cultural contexts.
Keywords: media technologies, media theory, Eurocentricism
How to Cite:
(2017) “Where is the Global in Media Theory (and When)?”,
Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture 12(1),
30 Jan 2017
The author has no competing interests to declare.
David Morley is currently Professor of Communications at Goldsmiths, University of
London and begun his career as a Research Fellow at the Centre for Contemporary
Cultural Studies in Birmingham. At Goldsmiths he co-founded the Transnational
Research Unit and the Pacific Asia Cultural Studies Forum. He is the editor of
Routledge’s Comedia book series and the author of books including Television,
Audiences and Cultural Studies (1992), Media Modernity and Technology: The Geography
of the New (2007) and Communications and Mobility: The Mobile Phone, the Migrant and
the Container Box (forthcoming, 2017). He currently serves on the Editorial/Advisory
Boards of a number of journals, including The European Journal of Cultural Studies,
Television and New Media and Inter-Asia Cultural Studies.
The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History Since 1900.
Signal and Noise: Media, Infastructure and Urban Culture in
Duke University Press.