Recent Accomplishments from Graduate Students and Alumni – February 2024

Feb. 26, 2024

John Alekna's (Ph.D. 2020) first book, Seeking News, Making China: Information, Technology, and the Emergence of Mass Society, is out in March. Alekna is currently assistant professor in the history of science, technology, and medicine at Peking University in Beijing.

Developments in communications technology have overturned key aspects of our political system and media landscape. Yet this phenomenon is not new. Interlocking technological, informational, and political revolutions have occurred many times in the past. John Alekna traces one example, the history of news in twentieth-century China, to demonstrate how large structural changes in technology and politics are heard and felt. Indeed, scrutinizing the flow of news can reveal much about society and politics—illustrating who has power and why, and uncovering the connections between different regions, peoples, and social classes. Taking an innovative, holistic view of information practices, Alekna weaves together both rural and urban history to tell the story of the rise of mass society through the lens of communication techniques and technology, showing how a news revolution can fundamentally reorder political geography.