The Politics of Dating Apps cover

Our picks for the International Communication Association Conference 2021

Exploring topics related to communication, connectedness, and social justice after a year of distance and upheaval

The International Communication Association (ICA) conference is once again taking place virtually this year, driven by the theme of Engaging the Essential Work of Care: Communication, Connectedness, and Social Justice. Now in its 71st year, the ICA aims to advance the scholarly study of human communication by encouraging and facilitating excellence in academic research worldwide. After a year in isolation, communication feels more important than ever.

This year’s theme brings to mind a robust list of books we’ve published in this space, including, most recently, a volume focused on email as a key historical, social, and commercial site of digital communication,  a book on dating apps in China working as an emerging arena for gender and queer politics, and a groundbreaking history of psychotherapy—from Freud’s treatments by mail to crisis hotlines to Zoom sessions—told from the perspective of the communication technologies that have long enabled it. Read more about these and related books below or browse all of our communications titles here.

Annotation by Remi H. Kalir and Antero Garcia


Annotation—the addition of a note to a text—is an everyday and social activity that provides information, shares commentary, sparks conversation, expresses power, and aids learning. It helps mediate the relationship between reading and writing. This volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series offers an introduction to annotation and its literary, scholarly, civic, and everyday significance across historical and contemporary contexts.

Critical Perspectives on Open Development: Empirical Interrogation of Theory Construction edited by Arul Chib, Caitlin M. Bentley and Matthew L. Smith

"Critical Perspectives on Open Development"

Over the last ten years, “open” innovations—the sharing of information and communications resources without access restrictions or cost—have emerged within international development. But do these innovations empower poor and marginalized populations? This book examines whether, for whom, and under what circumstances the free, networked, public sharing of information and communication resources contribute (or not) toward a process of positive social transformation.

Email and the Everyday: Stories of Disclosure, Trust, and Digital Labor by Esther Milne

"Email and the Everyday"

Despite its many obituaries, email is not dead. As a global mode of business and personal communication, email outstrips newer technologies of online interaction; it is deeply embedded in our everyday lives. And yet—perhaps because the ubiquity of email has obscured its study—this is the first scholarly book devoted to email as a key historical, social, and commercial site of digital communication in our everyday lives. In Email and the Everyday, Esther Milne examines how email is experienced, understood, and materially structured as a practice spanning the domestic and institutional spaces of daily life.

The Politics of Dating Apps: Gender, Sexuality, and Emergent Publics in Urban China by Lik Sam Chan

"The Politics of Dating Apps"

In this exploration of dating app culture in China, Lik Sam Chan argues that these popular mobile apps are not merely a platform for personal relationships but also an emerging arena for gender and queer politics. Chan examines the opportunities dating apps present for women’s empowerment and men’s performances of masculinity, and he links experiences of queer dating app users with their vulnerable position as sexual minorities. He finds that dating apps are both portals to an exciting virtual world of relational possibilities and sites of power dynamics that reflect the heteronormativity and patriarchy of Chinese society.

Hate Speech by Caitlin Ring Carlson

"Hate Speech"

Hate speech can happen anywhere—in Charlottesville, Virginia, where young men in khakis shouted, “Jews will not replace us”; in Myanmar, where the military used Facebook to target the Muslim Rohingya; in Capetown, South Africa, where a pastor called on ISIS to rid South Africa of the “homosexual curse.” In person or online, people wield language to attack others for their race, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, disability, or other aspects of identity. This volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series examines hate speech: what it is, and is not; its history; and efforts to address it.

The Distance Cure: A History of Teletherapy by Hannah Zeavin

"The Distance Cure"

Therapy has long understood itself as taking place in a room, with two (or more) people engaged in person-to-person conversation. And yet, starting with Freud’s treatments by mail, psychotherapy has operated through multiple communication technologies and media. These have included advice columns, radio broadcasts, crisis hotlines, video, personal computers, and mobile phones; the therapists (broadly defined) can be professional or untrained, strangers or chatbots. In The Distance Cure, Hannah Zeavin proposes a reconfiguration of the traditional therapeutic dyad of therapist and patient as a triad: therapist, patient, and communication technology.

The Infographic: A History of Data Graphics in News and Communications by Murray Dick

"The Infographic"

Infographics and data visualization are ubiquitous in our everyday media diet, particularly in news—in print newspapers, on television news, and online. It has been argued that infographics are changing what it means to be literate in the twenty-first century—and even that they harmonize uniquely with human cognition. In this first serious exploration of the subject, Murray Dick traces the cultural evolution of the infographic, examining its use in news—and resistance to its use—from eighteenth-century print culture to today’s data journalism. He identifies six historical phases of infographics in popular culture: the proto-infographic, the classical, the improving, the commercial, the ideological, and the professional.

Media Disrupted: Surviving Pirates, Cannibals, and Streaming Wars by Amanda D. Lotz

"Media Disrupted"

Much of what we think we know about how the internet “disrupted” media industries is wrong. Piracy did not wreck the recording industry, Netflix isn’t killing Hollywood movies, and information does not want to be free. In Media Disrupted, Amanda Lotz looks at what really happened when the recorded music, newspaper, film, and television industries were the ground zero of digital disruption. It’s not that digital technologies introduced “new media,” Lotz explains; rather, they offered existing media new tools for reaching people.

Seeing Human Rights: Video Activism as a Proxy Profession by Sandra Ristovska

"Seeing Human Rights"

Visual imagery is at the heart of humanitarian and human rights activism, and video has become a key tool in these efforts. The Saffron Revolution in Myanmar, the Green Movement in Iran, and Black Lives Matter in the United States have all used video to expose injustice. In Seeing Human Rights, Sandra Ristovska examines how human rights organizations are seeking to professionalize video activism through video production, verification standards, and training. The result, she argues, is a proxy profession that uses human rights videos to tap into journalism, the law, and political advocacy.

Explore more of the MIT Press’s books on communication