Centre for Research in Communication and Culture

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Professor Sabina Mihelj BA/MA, PhD University of Ljubljana, PhD Ljubljana Graduate School of the Humanities

Photo of Professor Sabina Mihelj

Professor of Media and Cultural Analysis.

Sabina Mihelj joined the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University in 2004. Prior to that she worked and studied in Slovenia, Hungary and Germany. Sabina is particularly interested in the comparative study of media cultures across both traditional and new media, with a particular focus on issues of nationalism, television, Eastern and Central Europe, and the Cold War. She has written extensively on the relationship between mass communication and cultural identity, as well as on comparative media research, and is currently completing a new book entitled From Media Systems to Media Cultures: Understanding Socialist Television (under contract with Cambridge University Press, expected publication date 2019), based on a major comparative project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. This research is also feeding into several public exhibitions in South-eastern Europe, the UK and the US.    

Sabina’s research was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the British Academy, the Leverhulme Trust, the Norwegian Research Council, and the Ministry of Science and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia. She is a member of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Peer Review College, and also reviews for the Economic and Social Research Council as well as a for number of research funding bodies internationally. Sabina also sits on the editorial boards of several international media and cultural analysis journals.

Over her time at Loughborough, Sabina served as Programme Director for both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in communication and media studies, and currently leads the Media, Memory and History strand of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture.  

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Professor Mihelj’s wrote extensively the relationship between mass communication and cultural identity, with a focus on issues of national belonging, cosmopolitanism, religion, and cultural memory, across both traditional and new media. Her first book, Media Nations: Communicating Belonging and Exclusion in the Modern World (Palgrave, 2011), argues for the continued relevance of concepts such as nations and nationalism in understanding global patterns of communication and identification. The book has been praised in a wide range of reviews, and described as ‘important and meritorious’ (Global Media and Communication, 2012) and ‘theoretically ambitious and empirically rich’ (International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, 2013). In a series of articles co-written with Liesbet Van Zoonen and Farida Vis, Sabina also examined the transnational symbolic battles over Islam, waged in the context of the new media, including YouTube.

Another central theme running through Sabina’s research concerns European communication, with a particular focus on Eastern and Central European media. Her second book, Central and Eastern European Media in Comparative Perspective (Ashgate, 2012, co-edited with John Downey) seeks to advance the practice of comparative media research as well as the understanding of Central and Eastern European media. It argues for the importance of multifaceted analysis of media systems, which takes into account a range of political, economic as well as cultural aspects.

Sabina is currently completing a new book entitled From Media Systems to Media Cultures: Understanding Socialist Television, under contract with Cambridge University Press (expected publication date 2019). The book is based on a major comparative project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which examined television cultures across five communist countries, focusing on their involvement in shaping the perceptions and practices of private and public life, their entanglement with everyday routines and festive occasions, and their afterlives in post-communist media and memory. Apart from offering the first systematic transnational study of communist media, this project also develops a novel framework for comparative media research, which shifts the focus from comparing media systems to comparing media cultures. In addition, the results of the project are also feeding into a number of public exhibitions, including a touring exhibition on the modernization of everyday life in South-eastern Europe, the British Museum exhibition on the Currency of Communism, and a forthcoming exhibition entitled The Television Revolution, which is due to open in Los Angeles in 2019.    

Major externally funded research projects:

Undergraduate (BSc): SSB301 Media, Identity and Inequality, SSB303 Media and Social Change, SSB302 Researching Communications and Media

Postgraduate (MA): SSP301 Media and Modernity, SSP303 Politics of Representation, SSP301 Media, Nations and Nationalism

Main areas of postgraduate research supervision include: communication and cultural identity; nationalism, ethnicity, racism; television studies; European communication; comparative media research; Cold War media and culture. Completed and current supervisions:  

  • Leila Wilmers, National Continuity in Times of Geopolitical and Demographic Change (with Marco Antonsich), 2017-
  • Yingzi Wang, Chinese Television between Propaganda and Entertainment, 1992-2017 (with Thoralf Klein), 2015-
  • Xinan Li, Religion and Belonging among the British Chinese (with Line Nyhagen), 2014-
  • Alena Pfoser: Living at the new margins of Europe: Identity, place and memory in the Russian-Estonian borderland (with Michael Pickering), completed 2014
  • Ekmel Gecer: Media and Democracy in Turkey: The Kurdish issue (with David Deacon), completed 2014
  • Dana Nassif: Youth, the New Media and Social Change in Jordan (with Emily Keightley), completed 2013
  • Yu Wei (Renée) Wang: Who are the Han? Representations of the Han in Late Qing and Early Republican China (with Iris Wigger), completed 2013
  • Vera Slavtcheva: Children’s Perceptions and Media Representations of the European Union in Bulgaria and the UK, completed 2011
  • Mengmeng Zhang: Representations of Nation and Locality in the Hong Kong Press, completed 2010

View Publications in the Central Database.