Terhi Rantanen (author)
In Dead Men's Propaganda: Ideology and Utopia in Comparative Communications Studies, Terhi Rantanen investigates the shaping of early comparative communications research between the 1920s and the 1950s, notably the work of academics and men of practice in the United States. Often neglected, this intellectual thread is highly relevant to understanding the 21st-century’s challenges of war and rival streams of propaganda.
Borrowing her conceptual lenses from Karl Mannheim and Robert Merton, Rantanen draws on detailed archival research and case studies to analyse the extent and importance of work outside and inside the academy, illuminating the work of pioneers in the field. Some of these were well-known academics such as Harold Lasswell and the authors of the seminal book Four Theories of the Press. Others operated in the world of news agencies, such as Associated Press's Kent Cooper, or were marginalised as émigré scholars, notably Paul Kecskemeti and Nathan Leites. Her study shows how comparative communications, from its very beginning, can be understood as governed by the Mannheimian concepts of ideology and utopia and the power play between them. The close relationship between these two concepts resulted in a bias in knowledge production, contributed to dominant narratives of generational conflicts, and to the demarcation of Insiders and Outsiders.
By focusing on a generation at the forefront of comparative communications at this pivotal time in the 20th century, this book challenges orthodoxies in the intellectual histories of communication studies.
"Anyone teaching or studying media and communications around the world will find this fine, well researched book to be utterly absorbing. It shows how ‘outsiders’ from central and eastern Europe and also from small town America helped to create a new field of study. They were enormously clever, moved across intellectual boundaries, and wrote with elegance and insight. They were also mostly Cold War warriors who had little time for female researchers. This book thus shows the origins of international communications research to be both awe-inspiring and embarrassing."
— James Curran, Professor of Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London
"We’ve all heard the warning about the consequences of not understanding our history, but too few scholars have done anything about it. At a time when communication and media studies seems fixated on the next new thing, Terhi Rantanen’s thorough and insightful account demonstrates why it is so important to pay attention to the thinkers of the previous century who were confronting circumstances and asking questions that are still relevant today."
— Larry Gross, Professor Emeritus, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California
Terhi Rantanen (MSc; LicSc; DocSc; Docent, Helsinki University) is Professor in Global Media and Communications at LSE. She is the founder of two double MSc programmes, with the University of Southern California (USC), which she directed from 2000 to date, and with Fudan University, Shanghai, which she directed for its first three years. Since the beginning of her career she has been conducting research on globalisation and the media, and especially on news organisations but also on the history of knowledge production.
Naila Kabeer (author)
The idea of the ‘Bangladesh paradox’ describes the unexpected social progress that Bangladesh has made in recent decades that has been both pro-poor and gender equitable. This began at a time when the country was characterised by extreme levels of poverty, poor quality governance, an oppressive patriarchy and rising Islamic orthodoxy.
This ‘paradox’ has evoked a great deal of interest within the international development community because Bangladesh had been dubbed an ‘international basket case’ at the time of its independence in 1971, seemingly trapped in a development impasse. Previous attempts to explain this paradox have generally taken a top-down approach, focusing on the role of leading institutional actors – donors, government, NGOs and the private sector. In Renegotiating Patriarchy: Gender, Agency and the ‘Bangladesh Paradox’, Naila Kabeer starts with the rationale that policy actions taken at the top are unlikely to materialise into actual changes if they are not acted on by the mass of ordinary women and men. But what led these women and men to act? And why did they act in ways that modified some of the more oppressive aspects of patriarchy in the country? That is what this book sets out to investigate.
It describes the history of the Bengal delta, and the forces that gave rise to the kind of society that Bangladesh was at the time of its independence. It considers the policy and politics that characterised post-independence Bangladesh and how these contributed to the progress captured in the idea of the Bangladesh paradox.
But the key argument of the book is that much of this progress reflected the agency exercised by ordinary, often very poor, women in the course of their everyday lives. Their agency helped to translate institutional actions into concrete changes on the ground. To explore why and how this happened, the book draws on a rich body of ethnographic, qualitative and quantitative research on social change in Bangladesh – including studies by the author herself. The book is therefore about how norms and practices can change in progressive ways despite unpropitious circumstances as a result of the efforts of poor women in Bangladesh to renegotiate what had been described as one of the most non-negotiable patriarchies in the world.
Naila Kabeer is Professor of Gender and Development at the Department of International Development. Naila is also a Faculty Associate at LSE’s International Inequalities Institute and on the governing board of the Atlantic Fellowship for Social and Economic Equity. She has done extensive advisory work with international agencies (World Bank, ADB, UNDP, UN Women), bilateral agencies (DFID, SIDA, CIDA, IDRC) and NGOs (Oxfam, Action Aid, BRAC, PRADAN and Nijera Kori). Her most recent projects were supported by ERSC-DIFD Funded Research on Poverty Alleviation: Gender and Labour Market dynamics in Bangladesh and West Bengal. She is on the editorial boards of Feminist Economics and Gender and Development and on the international advisory board of the Canadian Journal of Development Studies She is also a member of the Inequalities Advisory Group, Bosch Foundation and a member of the Advisory Board of the United Nations University Institute for Global Health.
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