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Mapping World Communication

War, Progress, Culture

1994
Author:

Armand Mattelart
Translated by Susan Emanuel and James A. Cohen

Mapping World Communication

A distinguished media theorist exposes the connection between militarism and the evolution of the media industry.

Mapping World Communication is a brilliant tour de force of mass communication history that will not disappoint English readers of Mattelart's work. It not only offers a political economy of mass communication and culture, but also traces the history of ideas that have guided our thinking in these areas since the end of the second World War. Written shortly after the Persian Gulf War—the first real ‘communication war—it shows that the critics of the information age were right after all. It should be read by anyone struggling to make sense of the mass communication landscape of the 1990s.

Colleen Roach

Together, the media and the military have turned the twentieth century into a spectacular but deadly show. How precisely this has happened, how it works and why, is the subject of this book by one of the world's foremost media theorists. With the trenchant wit and keen insight that have earned him international acclaim, Armand Mattelart offers a history of modern communications that exposes the connection between militarism and the evolution of the media industry, while questioning the notion that technological innovation is always synonymous with progress.

The history of modern media emerges in this account largely as a history of state control, wielded to discipline internal populations and combat external enemies.

With dazzling detail, Mattelart moves from the rise of the postal stamp to international telegraphy to the world press, and finds in each the hand of state strategy. In his analysis of the Gulf War, we see how the media can go beyond ideological service to become a tactical weapon.

But Mattelart doesn't stop there. Beyond war and geopolitics, he examines the role of intensified economic competition in the forging of new international networks of information and communication, raising the fateful question of whether the emergence of these networks will lead to a uniform "world culture" or rather to greater fragmentation of the planet.

Mapping World Communication

Armand Mattelart is professor of communication and information sciences at the Université de Haute-Bretagne. He is the author of, among other books, Multinational Corporations and the Control of Culture (1979), Advertising International (1991), and, with Michèle Mattleart, Rethinking Media Theory (Minnesota, 1992).

Susan Emmanuel has worked as a producer of education programs for the BBC and teaches media studies.

James A. Cohen teaches political science at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. He is cotranslator of Rethinking Media Theory (Minnesota, 1992).

Mapping World Communication

An important review and critique of international scholarship about communication and mass communication theory.

Choice

Mapping World Communication is a brilliant tour de force of mass communication history that will not disappoint English readers of Mattelart's work. It not only offers a political economy of mass communication and culture, but also traces the history of ideas that have guided our thinking in these areas since the end of the second World War. Written shortly after the Persian Gulf War—the first real ‘communication war—it shows that the critics of the information age were right after all. It should be read by anyone struggling to make sense of the mass communication landscape of the 1990s.

Colleen Roach

Mattelart offers media historians a new way of looking at the subject, of placing national experiences in a global context. He includes a valuable chronology of global media in his appendix. The chronology, like the book, includes many forces and events often excluded by the typical course in American journalism history. An appreciation of these global events should add a richness and context for better understanding how U.S. media developed.

Journalism History

Mattelart is worth reading for his contribution to the broad landscape of communication theory.

Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly

Mattelart, in this book, continues his fertile and often original reflections on international communication. He investigates the shaping of communication across the world to present a global view of communication with its purposes and networks, as well as a history of concepts, theories and debates that structured (even for a short time) the scientific field of mass media. A very useful book for both students and scholars. It combines a clear and well-documented presentation of the past perspectives in the mass communication field and an instructive discussion of the underlying background.

Journal of International Communication

This is a challenging but worthwhile work on the complex intersection of sociology, development theory, management theory, geopolitics, and communications. Both Mattelart and his translators are to be congratulated for rendering a complex subject in understandable prose.

Antenna

This book offers a remarkably detailed and clear synthesis of the ideas and strategies that have driven the theory and practice of mass communications during the past 200 years; and it offers this synthesis in the context of a well-researched critical history of communication studies. An important contribution to the history of communications theory, particularly in its history of the intertwined development of the ideas and practices of communication and war. This book should be high on communications reading lists and should be seriously considered for academic syllabi. The subjects it raises have implications for, and should be engaged across, a range of academic disciplines. Mattelart remains one of the most important communications theorists currently writing and continues to raise questions of great political significance within a field that has all too often served the interests of power rather than the interests of understanding.

Diaspora

Mapping World Communication is a book rich in documentation, analytical power, and social interpretation. Mattelart provides a masterful framework for understanding, and engaging, the communication dimension, today and in the approaching millennium.

Herbert I. Schiller, University of California, San Diego

This important book accomplishes for global communication what Said did for Orientalism and Foucault for modern disciplinary apparatuses. Mattelart unearths the technical genealogies and academic theories through which global communication came to be constituted and diffused. Inspired by a skepticism about globalizing theories and most theories of globalization, it is the first sustained, critical history of mass communication as a force and as a field. It sets the stage for a transnational critique of the techniques and theories of global communication.

Arjun Appadurai, University of Chicago