“Harold Innis.” The Canadian Encyclopedia.

[Harold Adams Innis, "The Bias of Communication" in The Bias of Communication. 1951. Introduction by Marshall McLuhan. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1964)]

 -- Roy Innis, president of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), 1988

For Innis, a survival strategy requires that we take "persistent action at strategic points against American imperialism in all its attractive disguises...(b)y attempting constructive efforts to expose the cultural possibilities of various media of communication and to develop them along lines free from commercialism." Thus, in the final analysis, Innis can be seen as a technological realist, mediating the technological humanism of McLuhan--who emphasized the creative possibilities of each new medium--and the vision of technological dependency articulated by George Grant--for whom technology becomes the locus of human domination.


Innis, Harold (1956)The Fur Trade in Canada.

Innis then trained in psychiatry at Yale and later joined its faculty.

ABSTRACT Harold Innis inaugurated his research into Canadian economic history (staples studies) to countervail the purportedly universalist claims of mainstream economics; he believed the mainstream “justified” exploitation of the developing world by the wealthiest countries. Conversely, he sought out universalist principles in his media/communication work in order to countervail omnipresent misunderstanding in the world; he hoped to establish thereby a common ground conducive to world peace. The dialectic or contradiction of relativism/universalism in Innis’ two major inquiries has hitherto remained unrecognized, and constitutes the focus of this article.


Harold Innis's communications theories - Revolvy

Harold Innis wrote his PhD thesis on the history of the (CPR). The completion of Canada's first transcontinental railway in1885 had been a defining moment in Canadian history. Innis'sthesis, eventually published as a book in 1923, can be seen as anearly attempt to document the railway's significance from aneconomic historian's point of view. It uses voluminous statisticsto underpin its arguments. Innis maintains that the difficult andexpensive construction project was sustained by fears of Americanannexation of the Canadian West.

Harold Innis's communications theories - …

Communications scholar argues that Innis's studyof the Canadian Pacific Railway was only the first in which heattempted to demonstrate that "technology is not something externalto Canadian being; but on the contrary, is the necessary conditionand lasting consequence of Canadian existence". Italso reflected Innis's lifelong interest in the exercise ofeconomic and political power. His CPR history ends, for example,with a recounting of Western grievances against economic policies,such as high freight rates and the steep import tariffs designed toprotect fledgling Canadian manufacturers. Westerners complainedthat this funnelled money fromPrairie farmers into the pockets of the Eastern businessestablishment. "Western Canada", Innis wrote, "has paid for thedevelopment of Canadian nationality, and it would appear that itmust continue to pay. The acquisitiveness of Eastern Canada showslittle sign of abatement."

Theall on Innis, Havelock and McLuhan | McLuhan's New …

Innis got his first taste of university teaching at Chicago,where he delivered several introductory economics courses. One ofhis students was Mary Quayle, the woman he would marry in May 1921when he was 26 and she 22.Together they had four children, Donald (1924), Mary (1927), Hugh(1930) and Ann (1933).

Robert Innis is Chief of the Molecular Imaging Branch at NIMH

Bias and distortions in understanding, then, did not suddenly trouble Innis in 1935 upon reading Urwick. Arguably, though, Urwick’s article, in combination with world events (discussed below, momentarily), plus possibly struggles with the manuscript for his book titled The Cod Fisheries (which forced him to modify lines of thinking successfully used in The Fur Trade), caused the notion of bias to trouble Innis more deeply and in different ways than hitherto, inducing him to approach the question in a new manner and for different reasons. Innis’ mental breakdown of 1937 was possibly a crisis point, from which he emerged with a new ontology, a revised epistemology, and a new set of pressing issues with which to grapple.