CFP: Print unbound: the making‌/‌unmaking of newspapers and periodicals in Asia

Vaibhav Singh's picture
Call for Papers
January 10, 2020
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Communication, East Asian History / Studies, Journalism and Media Studies, South Asian History / Studies, Southeast Asian History / Studies

Print unbound: the making/unmaking of newspapers and periodicals in Asia

An international conference to be held at the Royal Asiatic Society, London | 10 January 2020

Conference convener: Dr Vaibhav Singh, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Reading

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Newspapers have played a key role in shaping the pubic sphere, contesting power, disseminating and challenging ideologies – making and breaking not only the news but also individual fortunes, collective consciousness, and contemporary prejudices. Their history is particularly effective in combining questions of language, labour, and infrastructure, testing and pushing the boundaries not only of available technologies but also of regulatory regimes dictating the rights and liberties of the press. Often driven by a peculiar mix of idealism and commercial acumen, newspapers have been documents of the most urgent concerns of the day – constituting, famously, the first draft of history. Yet the myriad processes behind the realisation of these most ubiquitous of printed artefacts across the world have remained largely unexplored. How has the ‘news’ been made? How has information been recognised and communicated, passed from one hand to another, from one medium to another – for eye-witness accounts and verbal reports to turn into shorthand notes, for journalistic dispatches to become bold headlines and striking images on the frontpage? This conference aims to bring together fresh research perspectives on newspapers and periodicals in the many languages and scripts of Asia. We are particularly interested in the history of the wide variety of processes of making/unmaking involved in journalistic domains across South/Southeast Asia, East Asia, and the Middle East.

We invite papers that examine the development of the newspaper and periodical press in its full breadth, across temporal and geographical boundaries. How did a particular newspaper or a related group of periodicals come into being, how were such ventures practically conducted, how did they sustain and proliferate, for what variety of reasons and circumstances did they find favour, decline, or collapse? Possible areas of interest include but are not limited to regional, national, trasnational periodical press, as well as short-lived special-interest productions or irregular wartime newspapers, their associated professional and political networks, technologies of communication and production involved in journalistic persuits, as well as the organisation of labour, the dynamics of distribution and consumption etc. The conference also welcomes papers that deal with any other aspects related to newspapers and their history, particularly in relation to the theme of making/unmaking, broadly interpreted.

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

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Deadline for abstract submission: 10 October 2019 
Notification of acceptance: 15 October 2019 
Date of conference: 10 January 2020 
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 (£20 early-booking, £30 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 only). Tea/coffee and lunch will be provided during the conference.  

Please register before 31 December 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: