1st Edition

Communication Maintenance in Longue Durée

Edited By Gabriele Balbi, Roberto Leggero Copyright 2025
    236 Pages 11 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This interdisciplinary volume focuses on the politics, economics, technologies, uses, and cultures of maintenance of different forms of communication over long time or in Longue Durée.

    Throughout the chapters, contributors from a wide range of fields explore transversal and trans-temporal issues of communication maintenance. Among these are the struggles to keep communication infrastructures functioning, the hidden work of maintenance done by both experts and non-experts such as everyday users, the political significance of maintaining communications (or not maintaining them), and the different habits and significance of maintenance in different times and world regions. The forms of communication covered include broadcasting, telecommunications such as the telegraph and telephone, mostly forgotten media like pneumatic tubes, transportation infrastructures, maps as used as tools to politically control land, the clock as a medium and a material artifact, and many more.

    This book will be of interest to students and scholars of communication and media studies, the history of science and technology, general history, geography, maintenance studies, and other related disciplines.

    Communication Studies Long for Maintenance Cultures: A Theoretical Introduction to the Book
    Gabriele Balbi and Roberto Leggero

    Part 1: Temporalities

    1. The Clock of the Long Now in Longue Durée: Maintaining a Communication “Cool Tool” Through Millennia
    Julie Momméja

    2. Endless Frontiers of Maintenance: The Longue Durée of Communication Infrastructure in the United States
    Andrew L. Russell

    3. Sense Perception and the Maintenance of Pneumatic Mail Tubes in the Longue Durée: Feeling the Air, Preventing and Fixing Failures
    Laura Meneghello

    4. The “Technical Time” of the Luxembourgish Telephone System Reflections on the Transformative Power of Maintenance
    Stefan Krebs and Rebecca Mossop

    Part 2: Theorizing

    5. Interruptions, Divestments and Reactivations of Maintenance in the Alpine Middle Ages: A Long-Term View
    Roberto Leggero

    6. Maps as Maintenance. Designing and Controlling the Kingdom of Sardinia and the State of Milan’s Boundaries and Rivers in the 18th Century
    Blythe Alice Raviola

    7. Communicative Redundancy as a Maintenance Resource. The Dose Makes the Poison
    Kirill Postoutenko

    8. We Are All Maintainers: Everyday Practices of Media Maintenance in the Domestication of Technologies
    Corinna Peil

    Part 3: Infrastructuring

    9. A Low Place in High Country: Maintaining Infrastructural Clearance Along the Backbone of the World
    Sam P. Kellogg

    10. Large-Scale Infrastructure System in Lisbon: Politics of Repair and Maintenance in the European Periphery in the 20th Century
    Felipe Beuttenmüller Lopes Silva

    11. Maintenance of a Monopoly: The Digitalization of the Telephone Network as an Attempt to Preserve the Telecommunications Monopoly for the Longue Durée
    Matthias Röhr


    Gabriele Balbi is Full Professor at USI Università della Svizzera italiana (Switzerland), where he acts as Prorector for Education and Students’ Experience. His latest book is The Digital Revolution: A Short History of an Ideology (2023).

    Roberto Leggero is Lecturer-Researcher at USI Università della Svizzera italiana (Switzerland) and a founding member of the Italian Society for Environmental History. His works include “The Construction of Local Political Identity in Lake and River Communities in North-West Italy (12th to 14th C.)” in Wim Blockmans et al., Empowering Interactions (2016).