Vol. 23 (2020): Cromohs
Approaches to the Paper Revolution

Paper in Motion: Communication, Knowledge and Power: Case Studies for an Interdisciplinary Approach

José María Pérez Fernández
University of Granada
Cover image Cromohs 23, 2020, background: Jan Gossaert, Portrait of a Merchant, ca. 1530, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund, National Gallery of Art. Open access image
Published March 24, 2021
  • History of Paper,
  • Early Modern Communication Studies,
  • Early Modern Cultural Studies,
  • Mediterranean History,
  • Global History
How to Cite
Pérez Fernández, J. M. (2021). Paper in Motion: Communication, Knowledge and Power: Case Studies for an Interdisciplinary Approach. Cromohs - Cyber Review of Modern Historiography, 23, 81-112. https://doi.org/10.36253/cromohs-12025


This essay intends to use a series of case studies to exemplify the role of paper as (1) material medium for communication and consequently for the establishment of human communities and institutions, including the normative patterns employed in their administration and the emotional ties that generated and pervaded them, and (2) as a trope that denotes the nature and the function of the information, emotions and values it is used to record and convey. After a survey of the current state of the art, the case studies will illustrate how the different uses and functions of paper determined strategies and methods employed in the administration of the movement of people, ideas, and goods, and in the creation of complex networks (political, economic, religious, and intellectual) across the Mediterranean and beyond. There will be a particular focus upon the circulation of texts and documents involved in the articulation of discursive varieties for the expression of both subjective and collective emotional identities and for the establishment of the norms that regulated their public and social dimensions.