Photo of CARGC fellows and staff gathered at a table
Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication

Research Themes

Research at the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication revolves around four key themes. These themes are grounded in our vision of understanding how local, lived experiences of people and communities are profoundly shaped by global media, cultural, and political-economic forces.

Our research projects are shaped by CARGC-affiliated faculty, postdoctoral and doctoral fellows, and undergraduate students in collaboration with academic institutions as well as civic and community partners in the Greater Philadelphia region and across the world.

I. Mobile Borders: Media, Migration & Diasporas

Media play a key role in shaping migratory processes, migration policies, and public understandings of migrants and refugees. Our research in this area explores how journalists, filmmakers, artists, and other media practitioners use media technologies in creative ways to shape public understandings of migration and the condition of being a migrant. We are keen to examine how media make visible the violent bordering and detention practices of nation-states in different world regions. What new analytic frameworks and methods can we bring to bear on understanding how media and communications technologies contest, (re)produce, and/or destabilize various borders around the globe? By the same token, how do we grasp and theorize the role that varied media forms – from documentaries and television programs to video games and extended reality (XR) artifacts - will play in shaping public affect and shifting political discourse on the issue of migration in the coming decades?

II. Critical Currents: Media Environments and the Climate Crisis

This research theme is oriented towards bringing to light the conditions of life–human and nonhuman, mediated and otherwise–that are emergent and resurgent at a time of climate catastrophe. We are concerned with producing media and communication research that generates new frameworks and vocabularies to examine and respond to what mediation, justice, policy, connection, production, history, waste, and culture mean under the condition of the climate crisis. Forging connections with disciplines across the humanities and social sciences, we explore: the politics of climate change communication; the vibrant materiality of nonhuman, organic, and technological actors; the ecological matter and conditions that produce digital infrastructures and networks; the extraction of natural resources essential to media technologies, and by extension, the very process of mediation in a planetary age.

III. Re-coding the popular: Media Industries and Cultural Politics

Our research in this area combines deep knowledge of local media industries, popular culture, and communication infrastructures with a multidisciplinary approach to enduring questions of cultural politics, nationalism, and sovereignty. With a focus on media capitals across the world and trans-regional flows (for e.g., the circulation of Turkish and Korean media), we explore the politicization of popular culture, the digital transformation of production cultures and screen industries, shifting notions of popular sovereignty, and the endurance of “the people” as a political category. One strand of research in this theme focuses on how and under what structural conditions, the domain of the “popular” functions as a rich site of political struggles – from progressive activist movements to right-wing appropriations of the cultural industries - in a conjuncture marked by new geopolitical alignments. A second strand of inquiry, intimately connected to the first, draws attention to everyday, ordinary, and deeply affective experiences of media use that shape new cultural imaginaries and worldmaking possibilities in varied social contexts.

IV:  Turning Points in Global Media History

Turning Points examines critical moments that shaped the development of media in various parts of the world, circumstances and histories leading to these moments, and their impact on media development in subsequent periods. Reexamining the diverse media developments of various regions allows scholars to establish continuities, highlight fractures, and accentuate resonances while enriching the archives of “global media.” Steering away from Anglophone, north-Atlantic histories of post-WW2 media and communication, we ask: In what ways would our understanding of “global media” shift if we were to draw theoretical insights from media histories, practices, and environments from varied Global South contexts that do not or will not follow an easily comprehensible, linear path toward a seemingly inevitable digital horizon?

We are currently engaged in a year-long project focused on The Long 1990s in Global Internet History that will culminate in an international pre-conference and workshop to be held as part of the Association of Internet Researchers conference in October 2023 (Philadelphia, USA).