Media History

What is History?

  • Is it a process? (as a continuity)
  • Is it a narrative? (as a story being told)
  • Is it a discourse? (as being intentional)
  • Is it evolutionary? (as a progressive increase)

Media Archaeology

‘Here, a well-known historiographic trope lurks around the corner; the desire of occidental man to privilege continuity against the experience of ruptures, thus saving the possibility of an unbroken biographical experience. AGAINST SUCH ANALOGIES, HOWEVER, MEDIA ARCHAEOLOGY INSISTS ON DIFFERENCES.’ -Wolfgang Ernst by Geert, 2003.


Archaeology ensures that the typical cause-consequence approach to history is avoided, instead we can see layers. It focuses on mediatisation as social practise avoiding technocentric-sociocentric debates. It allows for non-linear thinking of time/history. It avoids classic dichotomies like the one between transformation and continuity. It is able to show simultaneous discourses (social/political struggles) permitting their complexity. It allows for the possibility of identification of symptoms of transformation and of conservation. It puts media in relation to power (and culture, and practice).

Power and Knowledge

‘Power secures knowledge but knowledge also secures power. Systems of power-knowledge contain both, emancipatory and repressive elements. They do not just set limits on human freedom, they also make it possible.’ – Janse, 1991: 7.

[Media] history as archaeology uses a combination of power, knowledge, mediated discourses and technological ecosystems to explain the past.

These are my notes from Semester One lectures
I do not own the above image, it is from:

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