Retreats are one of my favourite ways “to conference” for both the intellectual work that can be done in this format, and the personal relationships that are inevitably formed after spending a week (or sometimes more!) together. I was lucky enough to participate this August in the Media History from the Margins summer seminar in Monte Verità, Ascona, Switzerland, which was a definite success on both accounts. As the call originally stated:
The summer seminar aims to rethink media history from the margins and to place at the center of our attention neglected, alternative, or censured media texts, uses, and technologies. By shifting the discussion from hegemonic actors, dominant institutions, and successful mass media to the fringes of media history, it pursues the double objective of rewriting media history into media histories, and of opening a space to rethink historiographical practices and methods. The writing of marginal histories is inseparable from a reflection on the modes of operation and politics of historical writing: bringing together established and emerging scholars, the seminar investigates what has been left over by hegemonic mass media and hegemonic historical narratives.
I highly recommend perusing the extended abstracts from the programme, as well as the PhD students’ blog posts to get a feel for our discussions on the margins of media history. There are also murmurings of producing some kind of output from the conference in the form of a publication.
On a personal note, I presented some work around the authentication of passports and money through a reflection on printing and inscription, and great conversations are making me wonder whether the project is perhaps ultimately about high-tech paper… to be continued!