Media and Culture

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The Media & Culture research initiative is led by Professor Michael Curtin who specializes in the study of screen media institutions and policies around the world. Other topics include creativity, labor, language, popular culture, and communication.
Creative Labor
Arvind Kannabiran at work

As co-founder and former director of the Media Industries Project (MIP), I collaborated with Kevin Sanson and John Vanderhoef on several research endeavors about the impact of globalization and corporate conglomeration on workers in the film, television, and digital games industries. With Violaine Roussel, I lead a team of researchers that is examining transnational circulations of media talent between Paris and Hollywood. I’m also a member of a research team that has analyzed transnational media co-productions in East Asia.


Precarious Creativity: Global Media, Local Labor  
An edited volume of essays examining the seismic changes confronting media workers in an age of globalization and corporate conglomeration. An open access download is avalable from UC Press. More

Voices of Labor: Creativity, Craft, and Conflict in Global Hollywood
An edited collection of interviews with motion picture workers that reflects on both the pleasures of craft labor and the challenges posed by corporate globalization. Also open access from UC Press. More

Transnational Hollywood
 A collaboration of UCSB colleagues with counterparts at the Center for Sociological and Political Research, Paris (CRESPPA) to study the institutional and creative ties between the Hollywood and French motion picture industries. More

Creative Labor in Cinema and Media Industries
A topical entry in the online Oxford Bibliography of Cinema and Media Studies, offering a comprehensive and annotated review of scholarship on media labor issues and history. More

Willing Collaborators: Negotiating Change in East Asian Media Production
A multi-national study of transnational media coproductions, funded by the Australian Research Council (2014–2016).  Some of our findings have been published by Media International Australia. More

Media Capital
Hong Kong walk of stars

As transnational flows of media imagery have rapidly escalated since the 1990s, I have been investigating the patterns of flow and centers of creative influence that have emerged in film, television, and digital media. I employ the concept of “media capital” both to index creative centers of the global media economy and to consider the ways that these new geographies of media can be explained by processes of capital accumulation. Along with numerous essays on the topic, I published a book on the globalization of Chinese commercial media and am currently completing a comparative study of media capitals around the world. I have also begun a book that proposes a set of principles for regulating global media.


Media Capital: Towards the Study of Spatial Flows
A 2003 journal article offered the earliest iteration of my work on this topic. This essay along with numerous others that utilize and develop the concept of media capital can be found here.

Playing to the World’s Biggest Audience: The Globalization of Chinese Film and TV
Published by UC Press, the book employs the concept of media capital to offer a cultural geography of Chinese cinema and its spatial transformation at the turn of the millennium. More

Between State and Capital: Asia’s Media Revolution in the Age of Neo-Liberal Globalization
Just published by IJOC, it compares the transnational dynamics of Chinese and Arab media and develops conceptual distinctions between “commercial” and “official” media capital. More

Media Industry Studies
dutch movie theater

My work on motion picture industries has ranged widely. With Paul McDonald, I co-edit a series of books about media industry topics, trends, and institutions around the world. I’m also a founding member of the Media Industries editorial collective, a peer-reviewed, online open access journal. With Jennifer Holt and Kevin Sanson, I published a collection of interviews with industry executives and talent about the digital distribution revolution in the motion picture industry. One of my first forays in this area of research began at Wesleyan University where I worked with a team of humanists who conducted fieldwork and criticism regarding the intersections of culture, creativity, and industrial practice.


International Screen Industries
A book series published by the British Film Institute in cooperation with Palgrave Macmillan. ISI authors analyze media issues and institutions worldwide, featuring for example Arab Television and East Asian Film industries. More

The American Television Industry
An ISI title co-authored with Jane Shattuc, providing critical analysis of key players and trends. Critiques the transition to the current era of multi-media platforms, corporate conglomeration, and new forms of media content and personal use. (More)  Two separately published essays on this topic, “On Edge” and “Matrix Media,” can be found here.

Distribution Revolution: Conversations about the Digital Future of Film and TV
An edited collection of interviews media executives and creative talent about the dramatic impact that digital distribution has had on all aspects of the motion picture industry. More

Media Industries
A peer-reviewed, multi-media, open-access journal that publishes critical analysis of media industries and policies worldwide. I serve as a co-editor and helped to found MI in collaboration with colleagues on four continents. More

Making and Selling Culture
Offers scholarly essays and edited interviews with top executives from such companies as Twentieth-Century Fox, National Public Radio, and Coca-Cola. Published in 1996, it remains a touchstone for critical scholarship on the culture industries. More

Culture and Communication
videos in a shop

With Louis Leung, I’m co-editor of the Chinese Journal of Communication, which publishes peer-reviewed research in such areas as media, intercultural, and interpersonal communication. With Melissa Curtin, I’m starting work on an investigation of the ways in which language (and especially the globalization of language) is represented in various media, including street signs, artwork, museums, and movies. My early interest in media globalization began as a history of television documentaries during the 1960s as a site of cultural contention during the Cold War.


Chinese Journal of Communication
The leading English-language journal of communication in East Asia, CJC is based at the Centre for Chinese Media and Comparative Communication Research. It publishes peer-reviewed articles across the full range of specializations within the field of communication. More

Transmediated Representations of Language
A research project that focuses on the transcultural and intercultural dynamics and contestations the surround the representation of languages in various mediated contexts. Two initial areas of inquiry are language museums and the linguistic landscapes of global cities.

Redeeming the Wasteland: Television Documentary and Cold War Politics
A historical study of the "golden age" of network documentary in the US during the 1960s. Provides critical analysis of texts, institutional practices, audience reception, and the global political dynamics of the Cold War. Published by Rutgers University Press. More