In times of emergency, communication plays a crucial yet problematic role. While this may seem obvious nowadays, even before the emergence of modern media, the methods of gathering, elaborating and transmitting information had a significant influence on the perception of risk and on decision-making processes.
The recently published book Communication and Politics in the Hispanic Monarchy: Managing Times of Emergency (Peter Lang, 2023), edited by Domenico Cecere and Alessandro Tuccillo, examines how government bodies and different social actors handled emergencies in the Hispanic Monarchy from the late sixteenth to the early nineteenth century.
The papers collected in this volume stem from a range of seminars held between 2018 and 2021 as part of the DisComPoSE research project. Many were presented at the Comunicazione, politica e gestione dell’emergenza nella Monarchia ispanica, secoli XVI-XVIII conference held online on 7th-8th June 2021.
They feature case studies from the Hispanic Monarchy’s European, American and Asian territories, exploring the narrative strategies used in newssheets and gazettes, the impact of disasters on information networks, the way in which they interacted with political and social dynamics, and the effect of conflicting interpretations of extreme events.
The volume consists of four sections. The first section (Controlling the flow of news) addresses the issues of interpretation and methodology raised by research on communication. It deals with questions relating to the confidentiality and disclosure of information, to the use of information in times of emergency and to the political and material dynamics of disseminating news.
The second section (From relaciones to periodicals) contains contributions that differ in focus, analytic perspective and the nature of the sources used, but are linked by the issue of the impact of the pre-periodical press (e.g. broadsheets, pamphlets, relaciones and relazioni) and periodicals (e.g. gazettes, newspapers and journaux savants).
The third section (The logistics of communication) addresses how different channels of communication interact and how they are linked to political and social dynamics.
The papers in the fourth section (Putting a spin on disasters) analyse the link between communication and conflicting interpretations of disasters.