Centre for Research in Communication and Culture


20 June 2018

Maria Rikitianskaia - European radiotelegraphy as a genuinely transnational project

Presented By Maria Rikitianskaia, USI University of Lugano (Switzerland)
  • 1:00-2:00 pm CRCC Seminar Series
  • U1.22 Brockington Building

About this event

Enabling people to connect “by air”, the radiotelegraphy represented a revolutionary media for the beginning of 20th century. With the use of a combination of dotes and dashes on a relatively portable device, any person could pick up the information of national or international significance, and unite with the broader audience. As with any new technology and medium, national and international regulations struggled to solve common issues: should the technology be private or public service? What kind of interplay should it be involved with other media? Should be restricted or granted a liberal way of development?

Scholars acknowledge the radiotelegraphy as a predecessor of radio broadcasting, but this is indeed only one angle on the history of this media. This presentation captures the 1912-1927 period, particularly focusing on World War I from the transnational perspective, and tackles the questions of encryption, hacking, jamming, eavesdropping and other relevant up until now problems. The use of transnational approach allows showing that the war had brought to the media environment a new idea of radio as a national medium that unites people of a particular country. This idea entirely replaced the transnational vision of radiotelegraphy the dominated before the war that referred to the cross-border exchange of information, building coherent media infrastructures, and collaborative projects. Therefore, it demonstrates that the radiotelegraphy was genuinely transnational technology compared to radio broadcasting, and thus the history of radiotelegraphy has more continuities than breaks with the history of digital media.

Bio: Maria Rikitianskaia is a PhD student at the Institute of Media and Journalism of Università della Svizzera italiana (USI), Lugano, Switzerland. Her research focuses on media history at the beginning of 20th century, more specifically on the prehistory of radio broadcasting from the transnational perspective.