Keynote announcement: Prof. Anindita Ghosh (University of Manchester) CFP: Beyond the printing press: alternative means of production in the global history of print

Vaibhav Singh's picture
June 26, 2019
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Asian History / Studies, Middle East History / Studies, South Asian History / Studies, Southeast Asian History / Studies

Beyond the printing press: alternative means of production in the global history of print

An international conference at the Royal Asiatic Society, London | 26 June 2019
Keynote speaker: Prof. Anindita Ghosh, University of Manchester

Anindita Ghosh is Professor of Modern Indian History at the University of Manchester, UK. She obtained her doctoral degree from Cambridge, and joined the History Department at the University of Manchester in 2001 as a lecturer, having served as a Simon Fellow between 1999 and 2000. Her work broadly addresses questions of power, culture, and resistance. Her publications have focussed on the social and cultural history of the book, the making of indigenous identity in colonial Bengal, women’s experience in colonial South Asia, as well as material cultures and social structures in the context of colonialism, technology, changing patterns of occupation, public spaces, and protest.


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Typewriters, duplicators, copiers, and a myriad other means of production and reproduction of textual/visual matter have been a vital part of print cultures across the world. The ‘agents of change’ in the global history of printing and publishing, across the twentieth century in particular, have been other processes, other mechanisms, other devices than the printing press. This conference focuses on the role of such alternative or additional means of knowledge production and dissemination – tools like stencils, mimeographs, duplicators, photocopiers, the processes of strike-on and rub-down lettering, cyclostyle, xerography, to name just a few – alongside parallels, intersections, and continuations like handwriting, orality, and other ways of circulating information. Despite their marginal location in print history such means and processes of production have had significant influence in wide-ranging contexts of political activism, countercultures, resistance and student movements, and indeed in confronting and challenging censorship. But they have also been indispensable in mundane office use, public spaces and discourses, and in the day-to-day personal consumption of, and access to, information. 

We invite papers that examine the global history of small-scale technologies as well as the situational or selective deployment of alternative modes of production across the world, beyond or alongside the printing press. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to, practical and theoretical aspects, business histories, design and manufacture, the publications and publics of such endeavours, as well as practice-based enquiries and archival questions related to the longevity or ephemerality of their productions. The conference is particularly interested in investigations of Asian and African contexts where such alternatives may have had other functions or entirely different implications. Papers addressing oral histories, narratives of personal engagement, case studies of contextual adaptation and use are welcome, as are those that explore connections between geographical, socioeconomic, and linguistic contexts of printing through other means.

We invite proposals for papers of 20-minute duration. Please send an abstract (300 words) and short bio (150 words) to

Deadline for abstract submission: 31 March 2019 
Notification of acceptance: 10 April 2019 
Date of conference: 26 June 2019 
Conference venue: Lecture Hall, Royal Asiatic Society 
Venue address: 14 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2HD 
Conference convener: Dr Vaibhav Singh, University of Reading 
Email enquiries:

Registration fees (£10 early-booking, £20 regular) apply to speakers and attendees of this conference. We are unable to cover costs involved in travel and accommodation, however, early career researchers presenting at the conference will be reimbursed for economy travel (within UK). Tea/coffee and refreshments will be provided during the conference.

Please register before 22 June 2019 as places are limited:

Authors of all selected proposals will be invited to publish extended versions of their papers in a peer-reviewed journal issue of Contextual Alternate. Submission guidelines for the journal can be found here: