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Gabriele Balbi


Gabriele Balbi is Full Professor in Media Studies at the Institute of Media and Journalism (IMeG), Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society, USI Università della Svizzera italiana (Switzerland).

At this institution, he is Pro-Rector for Education and Students' Experience, program director of the Bachelor in Communication, director of the China Media Observatory, and vice director of the Institute of Media and Journalism. Furthermore, he is Vice-Chair of ICA Communication History Division.

He received a BA and MA in Communication Sciences at the University of Turin (Italy) in 2002 and 2004 and a PhD in Communication Sciences and Social History of Communication at USI in 2008. He has been lecturer and visiting professor at several universities: Harvard, Maastricht, Columbia, Westminster, Oxford, Northumbria, Perugia, Augsburg, and Concordia.

His main research area is media history (please see the section research for more more information).


Prof. Balbi's research is focused on media studies with a historical and long-term perspective. His research is at the crossroads of media studies, the history of technology, media archaeology, Science and Technology Studies, the political economy of communication, and cultural studies.

His most relevant fields of research are:

  • Telecommunications: history of electric telegraph, landline and mobile telephone, and wireless; transnational history of telecommunications with a focus on the International Telecommunication Union.

  • Broadcasting: origins of radio broadcasting; alternative forms of broadcasting; history of broadcasting in Switzerland, Italy, UK.

  • Digital media: intermedia and long term perspective in the history of digitization and digital media; relationships between analog and digital media and, more broadly, old and new media and change and continuity; digital failures; history of media convergence; persistence of old media and old practices over time.

  • Media historiography: role and development of media history over time and its meanings today; relevance of media history for other fields in media and communication studies; history of the field of communication and media studies.

  • Chinese media: history and development of Chinese media historiography; Chinese media companies going out strategies.

He has travelled and research in several archives around the world, like institutional archives (e.g. Italian Parliament, Swiss Federal Archives, Swiss PTT Archives), public service broadcasting archives (SSR, RAI, BBC), private companies archives (e.g. Marconi Company, Telecom Italia, AT&T, RCA), international organization archives (e.g. ITU, EBU, CERN), family and private archives.

His research has been financed multiple times by different institutions, like the Swiss National Science Foundation, the Sino Swiss Science and Technology Cooperation, China Scholarship Council, SRG SSR, Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars and Artists, Fondazione Vitali, and others.

Finally, prof. Balbi has published about 100 scientific publications, like monographies, articles in relevant academic journals, and book chapters.

Competence areas