Medialization and Empowerment Research Network – International Standing Working Group – a part of the BMBF-funded project “Knowledge without Borders: Internationalisation, Networking, Innovation in and by the Max Weber Stiftung”

Principal Investigator and Group Leader: Christina von Hodenberg, Director, GHIL

Project Coordinator: Jane Freeland, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, GHIL

Since the late 19th century, there has been a parallel emergence of mass press and media and the proliferation of rights and identity-based movements. Yet, we do not know enough about the historical interrelation between emancipation movements and the growth and spread of the mass media. The International Standing Working Group (ISWG) will take up this task with a deliberately global and transnational approach. It will examine the media circulation of ideas, concepts, images and films, and how they were received and actively appropriated by marginalized social groups whose members were often not reached until the age of the mass media. In doing so, it will examine the function of modern media in disseminating knowledge that guides action, but also the limits to the circulation of knowledge and their consequences.

The initial focus of the ISWG is women, and the media circulation and reception of feminist ideas in a global context. It will examine both how feminists have used the media to gain traction for women’s empowerment and how the media has shaped ideas and practices of feminism. In doing so, it considers the ambivalence of this relationship. While the media opened new opportunities for women’s empowerment, the media has also perpetuated patriarchal gender norms and contributed to the objectification and exclusion of women.

Coordinated by the German Historical Institute London, along with the GHIL India Research Programme, the GHI Rome, the Orient Institute Beirut, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and collaborations with scholars in Germany, India and the UK, the ISWG brings together different disciplines and aids interdisciplinary dialogue between scholars in media studies, political and social history, as well as gender studies and sociology. The ISWG particularly seeks to serve as a bridge between senior scholars and early career researchers working in these fields internationally.

The work of the ISWG is a part of the “Knowledge without Borders: Internationalisation, Networking, Innovation in and by the Max Weber Stiftung” research project. It is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and has an initial duration of three years.