Centre for Research in Communication and Culture

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

Photo of Professor Sabina Mihelj

Professor of Media and Cultural Analysis

Sabina Mihelj joined 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 focus on nationalism, identity, 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 has recently completed a new book entitled From Media Systems to Media Cultures: Understanding Socialist Television (2018), based on a major comparative project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust. This research has also served as a basis for several museum 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 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. She currently serves as Director of Research for Communication and Media, acts as School lead for Loughborough’s REF2021 submission to the D34 panel, and leads the Media, Memory and History strand of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture.  

‌Download full Curriculum Vitae‌.

Professor Mihelj wrote extensively about 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 by several reviewers, 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 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 has recently published a new book entitled From Media Systems to Media Cultures: Understanding Socialist Television, (Cambridge University Press, 2018). The book is based on a 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. The results of the project have also fed into several museum 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, due to open in Los Angeles in 2019.

Sabina’s current work examines the interface between media and public culture, and investigates the temporal dynamics of media and social change.     

Major externally funded research projects:

  • 2019-21, Co-Investigator, The Illiberal Turn? Political Polarization, News Consumption and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe, ESRC
  • 2013-16, Principal Investigator, Screening Socialism: Television and Everyday Life in Socialist Eastern Europe, Leverhulme Trust.
  • 2009-10, Co-Investigator, Fitna, the video battle: how YouTube enables the young to perform their religious and public identities, AHRC.
  • 2008-10, Project Partner, Border Communities: The Cold War in Communicative Memories and Public Spheres, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for European History and Public Spheres, Vienna, Austria.
  • 2006-08, Project Partner, Spinning out of Control: Rhetoric and Violent Conflict, Norwegian Research Council.
  • 2006-07, Principal Investigator, On the Margins of Europe: Media, Space and Identity between Migrant Borders, British Academy.
  • 2005-06, Co-Investigator, Debating the EU Constitution: National or Transnational Paths to a Supranational Issue, ESRC.

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; media and public culture; nationalism, ethnicity, racism; media and social change; comparative media research; socialist and post-socialist media and culture. 

Current postgraduate research students

  • Jin Dai (2018-present) Between Official and Personal Memory: Remembering Han Migration to Xinyang (with Alena Pfoser)
  • Leila Wilmers (2017-present) National Continuity in Times of Geopolitical and Demographic Change (with Marco Antonsich)
  • Yingzi Wang (2015-present) Chinese Television between Propaganda and Entertainment, 1992-2017 (with Thoralf Klein)

Recent postgraduate research students

  • Alena Pfoser (2014) Living at the new margins of Europe: Identity, place and memory in the Russian-Estonian borderland (with Michael Pickering)
  • Ekmel Gecer (2014) Media and Democracy in Turkey: The Kurdish issue (with David Deacon)
  • Dana Nassif (2013) Youth, the New Media and Social Change in Jordan (with Emily Keightley)
  • Yu Wei (Renée) Wang (2013) Who are the Han? Representations of the Han in Late Qing and Early Republican China (with Iris Wigger)
  • Vera Slavtcheva (2011) Children’s Perceptions and Media Representations of the European Union in Bulgaria and the UK
  • Mengmeng Zhang (2010) Representations of Nation and Locality in the Hong Kong Press


Journal articles and book chapters