In an essay for this new edition, Innis biographer Alexander John Watson examines the reasons why Innis, at the height of his success as an economic historian, embarked on new research areas of communications and empire, as well as the ways in which Marshall McLuhan's interpretations of Innis changed and de-politicized Innis's work.
As important today as it was when first published, The Bias of Communication is essential reading for historians and scholars of communication and media studies.
Harold A. Innis (1894-1952) was a Canadian professor of political economy at the University of Toronto and the author of seminal works on media, communication theory and Canadian economic history.
This volume reaches into national and regional areas that have not received much attention in the scholarship until now, including Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East alongside Europe and North America. It also covers communication study outside of academic settings: in international organizations like UNESCO, and among commercial and civic groups. It moves beyond the traditional canon to cover work by forgotten figures, including women scholars in the field and those outside of the United States and Europe, and it situates them all within the broader geopolitical, institutional, and intellectual landscapes that have shaped communication study globally.
Intended for scholars and graduate students in communication, media studies, and journalism, this volume pushes the history of communication study in new directions by taking an aggressively international and comparative perspective on the historiography of the field. Methodologically and conceptually, the volume breaks new ground in bringing comparative, transnational, and global frames to bear, and puts under the spotlight what has heretofore only lingered in the penumbra of the history of communication study.
The volume is prefaced with an introduction by the editors and will be a central research text for scholars in this field.
European Journal of Communication
After defining the word `information', the author contrasts non-linear and reflexive ideas about human communication with linear perspectives. Information is equated with uncertainty. The result presents a pattern for the process of conceptualizing and reconceptualizing information in the context of evolving communication theories.
Innis has long been regarded as one of Canada's foremost historians, and in The Fur Trade in Canada he presents several histories in one: social history through the clash between colonial and aboriginal cultures; economic history in the development of the West as a result of Eastern colonial and European needs; and transportation history in the case of the displacement of the canoe by the York boat. Political history appears in Innis's examination of the nature of French-British rivalry and the American Revolution; and business history is represented in his detailed account of the Hudson's Bay and Northwest Companies and the industry that played so vital a role in the expansion of Canada.
In his introduction to this new edition, Arthur J. Ray argues that The Fur Trade in Canada is the most definitive economic history and geography of the country ever produced. Innis's revolutionary conclusion - that Canada was created because of its geography, not in spite of it - is a captivating idea but also an enigmatic proposition in light of the powerful decentralizing forces that threaten the nation today. Ray presents the history of the book and concludes that "Innis's great book remains essential reading for the study of Canada."
The relationship of the fisheries to the maritime greatness of Britain and to the growth of New England as an important commercial power is particularly stressed; and in the examination of the conflicts growing up about this industry are revealed the forces underlying the struggle between Britain and France for control of the new world, and the forces which led to the collapse of thye British Empire in America and the rise of an independent new world political power. The political struggles with Nova Scotia and the long conflict with the United States, continuing far into the nineteenth century, are examined in careful detail.