Terhi Rantanen (MSc; LicSc; DocSc; Docent, Helsinki University) is Professor in Global Media and Communications. She is the founder of the Department’s two double MSc programmes, with the University of Southern California (USC), which she directed from 2000 to date, and with Fudan University, Shanghai, which she directed for its first three years. Since the beginning of her career she has been conducting research on globalization and the media, and especially on news organizations but also on the history of knowledge production.
She served as Chair of GSSC (2012-2017) and was an academic member of the LSE Council (2017-2022, 2nd term).
Professor Rantanen’ new book Dead Men’s Propaganda: Ideology and Utopia in Comparative Communications Studies will be published by LSE Press in 2024. In this book, she investigates the shaping of early comparative communications research between the 1920s and 1950s, notably the work of academics and men of practice in the United States.
Borrowing her conceptual lenses from Karl Mannheim and Robert Merton, Rantanen draws on detailed archival research and case studies to analyse the extent and importance of work outside the academy, illuminating the work of pioneers in the field. Some of these were well-known academics such as Harold Lasswell and the authors of the seminal book Four Theories of the Press. Others operated in the world of news agencies, such as Associated Press's Kent Cooper, or were marginalised, notably Paul Kesckemeti and Nathan Leites as émigré scholars. Her study shows how comparative communications research, from its very beginning, can be understood as governed by the Mannheimian concepts of ideology and utopia and the power play between them. The close relationship between these two concepts resulted in a bias in knowledge production in comparative communications research, contributed to dominant narratives of generational conflicts, and to the demarcation of Insiders and Outsiders.
By focusing on a generation at the forefront of comparative communications at this pivotal time in the 20th century, this book challenges dominant orthodoxies in the intellectual histories of communication studies.