Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Medienwissenschaft

Liam Young: Dirt Research and Media Archaeology (Vortrag)

  • Wann 11.05.2018 von 10:00 bis 11:00
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This talk surveys the early work of Canadian economic historian and media theorist Harold Adams Innis with the goal of understanding its resonance and utility for media-archaeological and related research approaches. Though his work was foundational for Marshall McLuhan’s forays into Understanding Media, Innis is today less widely-known than his junior colleague. And because of the McLuhan connection, Innis’s late-career works on the history of communication receive more scholarly attention than his earlier texts on the economic history of Canada’s fur trade (1930) and cod fisheries (1940). I will argue that these earlier works have superior relevance for contemporary scholars of media archaeology and related approaches by focusing in particular on Innis's method of research for these texts, which he called 'dirt research.’ This was fieldwork that went beyond ethnography and looked as much to geology, biology and technics as human social or cultural interactions. In this way, Innis’s work prefaces the ‘material’ and interdisciplinary turn of recent decades (in which media archaeology has played a major role). To offer more precision, I will share some preliminary notes from my current project, an “Innisian” approach to the history of salt as an “elemental medium."