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What is an Archive?: An Apparatus Model for Communications and Media History

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The author argues for a new methodology for investigating the history of communications and media. Media and communications processes and technologies need to be examined as elements of apparatuses. The author examines the theoretical underpinnings of such an approach by first outlining Michel Foucault's writing on the topic and then investigating the recent use of the term by Giorgio Agamben. Taking an apparatus approach demands more broadly conceiving of the archive to include nonsignifying objects and material concerns. Such an approach is further elaborated through examples on the basis of Raymond Williams' seminal book Television: Technology and Cultural Form and the author's own research on automobility and Citizens Band Radio. The author concludes by offering 5 modes of enquiry to guide an apparatus approach to media and communications history.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Communication, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2010


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