Red Tape: Radio and Politics in Czechoslovakia, 1945-1969

A lecture with Rosie Johnston (University of Vienna Research Center for the History of Transformations)
Event Date & Time
| -
Event Location
1210 Heller Hall

271 19th Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

In socialist Eastern Europe, radio simultaneously produced state power and created the conditions for it to be challenged. As the dominant form of media in Czechoslovakia from 1945 until 1969, Communist officials, broadcast journalists, and audiences used radio technologies and institutions to negotiate questions of citizenship and rights. Johnston reconstructs the relationship between radio reporters and the listeners who liked and trusted them while recognizing that they produced both propaganda and entertainment. With recourse to listeners’ feedback, captured in thousands of pieces of fan mail, Johnston shows how a non-democratic society established, stabilized, and reproduced itself.
In this talk, Johnston argues that all media are social media. As such, a study of socialist radio holds important lessons for those seeking to understand current fake news debates, and the Facebook and X politics of our own time.

Rosamund (Rosie) Johnston is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Vienna. She is the author of Red Tape: Radio and Politics in Czechoslovakia, 1945-1969, published by Stanford University Press. She has also authored one book of public history, Havel in America: Interviews with American Intellectuals, Politicians, and Artists, released by Czech publisher Host in 2019. Her work has appeared in Central European History, the Journal of Cold War Studies, East Central Europe, Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Scottish newspaper The National, and on public broadcaster Czech Radio. She is currently researching the global history of Czechoslovakia between 1954 and 1994 through its arms trade.

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