07 September 2020

BOOK: Andreas FICKERS and Gabriele BALBI, eds., History of the International Telecommunication Union (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2020). ISBN 978-3-11-066960-2, 77.95 EUR


(Source: De Gruyter)

De Gruyter has published a book on the history of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).


This book focuses on the history of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), from its origins in the mid-19th century to nowadays. ITU was the first international organization ever and still plays a crucial role in managing global telecommunications today. Putting together some of the most relevant scholars in the field of transnational communications, the book covers the history of ITU from 1865 to digital times in a truly global perspective, taking into account several technologies like the telegraph, the telephone, cables, wireless, radio, television, satellites, mobile phone, the internet and others. The main goal is to identify the long-term strategies of regulation and the techno-diplomatic manoeuvres taken inside ITU, from convincing the majority of the nations to establish the official seat of the Telegraph Union bureau in Switzerland in the 1860s, to contrasting the multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance (supported by US and ICANN).

History of the International Telecommunication Union is a trans-disciplinary text and can be interesting for scholars and students in the fields of telecommunications, media, international organizations, transnational communication, diplomacy, political economy of communication, STS, and others. It has the ambition to become a reference point in the history of ITU and, at the same time, just the fi rst comprehensive step towards a longer, inter-technological, political and cultural history of transnational communications to be written in the future.


Gabriele Balbi, USI, Università della Svizzera italiana

Andreas Fickers, University of Luxembourg



Gabriele Balbi and Andreas Fickers Introduction: The ITU as Actor, Arena, and Antenna of Techno-Diplomacy 1

Part I ITU as a Global Actor in the History of Telecommunications Marsha Siefert 1 The Russian Empire and the International Telegraph Union, 1856– 1875 15 Andrea Giuntini 2 ITU, Submarine Cables and African Colonies, 1850s–1900s 37 Richard R. John 3 When Techno-Diplomacy Failed: Walter S. Rogers, the Universal Electrical Communications Union, and the Limitations of the International Telegraph Union as a Global Actor in the 1920s 55 Christiane Berth 4 ITU, the Development Debate, and Technical Cooperation in the Global South, 1950–1992 77 Gianluigi Negro 5 The Rising Role of China in the Promotion of Multilateral Internet Governance, 1994–2014 107 Dwayne Winseck 6 Is the International Telecommunication Union Still Relevant in “the Internet Age?” Lessons From the 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) 135

Part II ITU as an Arena of Techno-Diplomatic Negotiations for Emerging Technologies Simone Fari 7 Telegraphic Diplomacy From the Origins to the Formative Years of the ITU, 1849–1875 169 Maria Rikitianskaia 8 The International Radiotelegraph Union Over the Course of World War I, 1912–1927 191 Christian Henrich-Franke and Léonard Laborie 9 Technology Taking Over Diplomacy? The ‘Comité Consultatif International (for) Fernschreiben’ (CCIF) and Its Relationship to the ITU in the Early History of Telephone Standardization, 1923– 1947 215 Heidi Tworek 10 A Union of Nations or Administrations? Voting Rights, Representation, and Sovereignty at the International Telecommunication Union in the 1930s 243 Anne-Katrin Weber, Roxane Gray, Marie Sandoz, with the collaboration of Adrian Stecher 11 ITU Exhibitions in Switzerland: Displaying the “Big Family of Telecommunications,” 1960s–1970s 265 Nina Wormbs and Lisa Ruth Rand 12 Techno-Diplomacy of the Planetary Periphery, 1960s–1970s 297 Valérie Schafer 13 The ITU Facing the Emergence of the Internet, 1960s–Early 2000s 321 Index 345


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