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Global Communication Electric

Business, News and Politics in the World of Telegraphy

As catalysts of our present global condition, telegraphs are emblems of modernity. The establishment of a worldwide network of landline and submarine cable connections in the mid-nineteenth century fostered the emergence of new structures and patterns of interaction on a global scale. World politics and a global economy only became possible with the creation of “global communication electric.”

This book examines the emergence of this global media system between 1860 and 1930 in four sections—"Inter|Nationalisms," "Agents|Actors," "Use|News," and "Space|Time"—that aim to broaden and challenge popular conceptions of telegraphy. In exploring the varied uses of telegraphy, real or imagined, Global Communication Electric expands the notion of the telegraph as a globalizing medium: of connection as well as friction; of political, social, and economic entanglement as well as disentanglement; and of crossing as well as creating distance in space and time.

386 pages | 10 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

Global History

History: History of Technology

Media Studies

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“Heralding the era of globalization, telegraphy as a medium of networked communication reimagined structures of power and patterns of interaction in the mid-nineteenth century. Hampf and Müller-Pohl bring together thirteen contributors to sift the implications of this one-time new media technology. . . . As a global history, the book’s major contribution is offering a critical reconsideration of standard narratives of telegraphy as the ‘Victorian Internet,’  a weapon of empire, and an abolisher of temporal-spatial constraints to argue instead for a more nuanced (and ultimately less Euro-American-centric) interpretation of the role of telegraphy in the nineteenth century. . . . Recommended.”

R. Avance, University of Pennsylvania | Choice

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