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Response to Review of Cinema and the Wealth of Nations: Media, Capital, and the Liberal World System

I am grateful for the detailed and generous review of Cinema and the Wealth of Nations. Towards the end of the review Dr Stubbs rightly observes that the focus of this 500 page 200,000 word book on the US and the UK is 'also limiting', and that the relationship between media, capital, and power developed differently elsewhere and in other countries and state systems. I agree, and would like to join Dr Stubbs in calling for a much broader global project carried out by historians around the world to explicate the ways media has been used to facilitate and sustain political and economic power. Questions might include: how and why have states across the world used media across time? How have media systems been constructed and how does this shape people’s access to understanding the world? What differences and commonalities can be discerned across state systems and indeed across the history of media (stretching, say, from the mass press, through cinema, radio, television, and the digital)?

The results of this necessarily global project joining together historians and media scholars might be a broader reckoning with propaganda, censorship, and misinformation across the world, and its key role in shoring up political and economic systems that are hugely damaging to the populations of the world and our collective environments. The pace of this is accelerating, as Dr Stubbs shrewdly observes, following the digital revolution and the growing centrality of media to the global economy and our daily lives. Our world is a deeply mediatized one, in this new world of 'social', convergent, media, controlled by ever-larger corporations (and their state partners) with ever-greater access to data about people. One offshoot of this imagined global project shared out between scholars across the world would be the recognition that the history of media systems ought to be key to any history of the last 200 years or so. I rather have the impression that is not often the case in Departments of History, indeed in universities generally. But I am happy to volunteer Cinema and the Wealth of Nations as one model for that necessary curricular and institutional reform.