I am a historian of television with a special interest in non-institutional televisual uses and technologies. My work is at the intersection of media history and archaeology, science and technology studies, and exhibition studies. My dissertation, for which I received the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Dissertation Award as well as the Prix de la Faculté of the University of Lausanne, looks at interwar television in Great Britain, Germany, and the United States. It analyzes television’s encounter with its earliest audiences at world exhibitions and industrial fairs, and—focusing on televisual sites instead of televisual texts—unearths the new media’s multiple technologies and social uses showcased at these events. It argues that, despite weak commercial prospects, television rapidly became an actor in technopolitical competition staged at fairs, and discusses how institutional struggles and media identities were negotiated by putting television on display.
I am currently a Visiting Scholar at Comparative Media/Writing at MIT, Cambridge, and the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History, where I develop a new project supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF). Titled A Media Archaeology of Drones. Television in the Army, it aims at unearthing the military uses of television during World War II and at resituating the developed devices and implied actors within the media’s broader historiography. It pursues therefore the double goal of reflecting upon the first experiences of tele-guided planes and bombs from a media historical perspective, and of contextualizing these developments in relation to industrial research on consumer electronics.
Together with my colleague François Vallotton from the UNIL’s History Department, I co-direct the SNF funded research project Au-delà du service public : pour une histoire élargie de la télévision en Suisse, which investigates the actors, technologies and networks at the margins of Swiss television history.
My publications include La télévision du téléphonoscope à YouTube. Pour une archéologie de l’audiovision (with Mireille Berton, Antipodes, 2009) and an issue of View. Journal of European Television History and Culture titled « Archaeologies of Tele-Visions and -Realities » (with Andreas Fickers, 2015). I am on the editorial board of A Contrario. Revue interdisciplinaire de sciences sociales and of Transbordeur. Photographie, société, histoire.
Twitter: @akw_8CV_Weber_March 2018