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Reviewsin brief: Media, modernity and technology: the geography of the new. By David Morley. New York: Routledge. 2007. x + 346 pp. £18.99 paper. ISBN 0415333423

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Christophers, Brett

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Abstract 400Reviewsin briefMedia,modernity and technology: the geography of the new. By David Morley. NewYork: Routledge. 2007. x + 346 pp. £18.99 paper. ISBN 0415333423SAGE Publications, Inc.2008DOI: 10.1177/14744740080150030707BrettChristophersSchool of Geography and Environmental Science Universityof AucklandAnew book by David Morley (over half the chapters in Media, modernity and technologycom- prise original material) should always bear serious consideration fromcultural geographers. Not only has Morley been one of the leading figureswithin British cultural studies over the past two decades, but in influentialpublications such as Spaces of identity (1995, with Kevin Robins) and Hometerritories (2000) he has consistently emphasized and worked through his convictionthat – as he reaffirms here – `geography does indeed matter'(p. 63). Trained as a sociologist, Morley remarks now that if, in the 1980s,the discipline from which he learned most was anthropology, in the 1990s itwas cultural geography. The fact that The geography of the new was in facthis preferred book title – `marketing considerations' ultimately puttingpaid to this preference (p. 11) – merely reinforces the centralityof matters spatial to his scholarly vista. Nonetheless, Morley's new bookis, for this reader at least, slightly disappointing. It is not that it isa bad book. Rather, it is that Morley does not appear to be telling us muchthat is particularly original. The book, as he explains in the Introduction,develops two main, linked401premises.The first is that the West has typically been seen as modern, rational anddynamic, in contrast to a `traditional' non-West. The second is that technologyin general, and `new media' in particular, tend to be pegged to the futurewhile `old media' and ritualized prac- tices are relegated to the past. Hisheadline argument, then (his `geography of the new'), is to argue againstsuch false binaries, demonstrating continuities and overlaps between Eastand West, tradition and modernity, and magic and technology (although not,for the most part, economy and culture – but see pp. 322–3 ongift economies). This is all very well, yet as Morley himself notes (p. 175),ironically, of one such binary (the conflation of the West with modernity),it is also very well-established ground. Media, modernity and technology should,however, prove of interest in a number of regards. It provides a good historicalintroduction to British cultural studies (particularly insofar as culturalstudies has been concerned with the media), to Morley's relationship withkey figures in that tradition (e.g. Stuart Hall), and to the trajectory ofMorley's own work. In relation to the last of these, it recalls his seminalwork on the ways in which `local' spaces and tech- nologies (the sitting room,home, family television) are bound up with the constitution of much widercultural identities (e.g. `nation'). Indeed, some of the book's most insightfulpas- sages occur where he nudges this work forward, as in Chapter 7 on identityand the `medi- ated home'. Unfortunately, such passages are somewhat peripheral,the main thrust of the book predicated largely – and self-consciously(p. 327) – on reviews of what other writers have had to say on historicalgeographies of modernity.
Document language English
Publication Year 2008
Page/Pages p. 400-401
Journal Cultural Geographies, 15 (2008) 3
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)