Can Imperial Radio Be Transnational? British-Affiliated Arabic Radio Broadcasting in the Interwar Period

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British Broadcasting Corporation, Radio, Communications, Religious studies

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College of Arts Humanities and Social Sciences, Religious Studies


This media history article uses the development of the British Broadcasting Corporation's Arabic radio broadcasting service in 1938 as a case study for considering the intersections and overlaps between transnationalism and imperialism in the early mid-20th century. Archival evidence suggests that the British Broadcasting Corporation's Arabic broadcasting service, which was based in London, relied for human resources, programming, and other forms of expertise on the Palestine Broadcasting Service in Jerusalem and the Egyptian State Broadcasting Service in Cairo—as well as on British government officials in those countries. Yet scholarly literature on these stations tends to treat them as free-standing institutions with minimal interaction. How might recent scholarship on entangled media histories productively problematize the treatment of radio histories as institutional histories within nation-state boundaries? How might it capture both the transnational and the colonial or imperial connections of these stations? It closes by suggesting how this case study might be useful for scholars working in other arenas.

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