Author: Anita Lucchesi

#dhnord2017 (De)constructing Digital History


Call for Papers

(De)constructing Digital History

What is digital history? The term has been coined since at least 1999 (Ayers, 1999) and was further generalized by 2005 (Lines Andersen 2002, Lee 2002, Cohen & Rosenzweig 2005). Broadly defined, digital history is “an approach to examining and representing the past that works with the new communication technologies of the computer, the internet network, and software systems” (Seefeldt & Thomas 2009). In other words, it describes historical inquiry that is based on primary sources available as electronic data, whether digitized or born-digital, and the narratives that are constructed through such inquiries (Lee 2002).

The rise of digital history is in general perceived as the phase defined by the democratization of the personal computer technology, network applications and the development of open-source software (Thomas 2004, Cohen & Rosenzweig 2005, Graham, Milligan & Weingart 2015). With slight differences in periodization, medium-centered (e.g. relying on the use of the computer) genealogies see digital history at least partly as a descendant of quantitative and computational history, tracing its beginnings through the end of the 40s to the 60s (Thomas 2004, Graham, Milligan & Weingart 2015). Broader approaches insist instead on the heritage of public and oral history (Noiret 2011, Scheinfeldt 2014). Digital history participated greatly to the rise and development of the field of digital humanities since the mid-2000s (Schreibman et al. 2004, Kirschenbaum 2010, Gold 2012). However, specific disciplinary objects, sources and approaches continue to be present within the connected use of methods and tools that takes place under the digital humanities big tent. A typology of digital history projects identifies three main fields: academic research, public history, and pedagogy projects, of which the last two categories are considered particularly specific to historians within the digital humanities field (Robertson 2016).

We therefore propose to address digital history through this triple spectrum: academic research, public history, and pedagogy, in order to trace continuities and transformations in history as a discipline; and contribute to explore the broader digital humanities field through this case study.

Conference Introduction

Andreas Fickers (Professor, University of Luxembourg/Director C2DH) | “Digital History: On the heuristic potential of thinkering”


Bertrand Jouve (CNRS Senior Researcher in Mathematics) (forthcoming title)

Manfred Thaller (Emeritus Professor, University of Cologne) | “Distrustful Brothers 2.0 – On the relationship of quantitative history and ‘digital’ history”


November 29, 2017

Nodegoat Workshop: data modelling and usage of data in humanities and social sciences; data management, network analysis & visualisation in a web-based environment | Pim van Bree, Geert Kessels


Focus areas

1/ Academic research

It is understood that scholarly research in history has been affected by the digitization of sources, methods and the environment in which research is conducted, produced and disseminated (Clavert & Noiret 2013). Nonetheless, there also seems to be a tension between the potentiality of digital history and the actual delivery of argument-driven scholarship (Blevins 2016). In the last two decades, a significant number of digital history projects have been elaborated and, furthermore, digital history has been institutionalized through the creation of specialized departments in several universities. We should then be able to identify the impact of mutations in the ways historical research is driven and communicated, on the one hand; the novelties in objects, methods and analysis tools, and the eventual issues they raise, on the other.

In this sense, what is called the data revolution (Kitchin 2014) is one important component to take into account and to explore further. The massive production of digitized/born-digital historical data challenges historians’ existent approaches and methods of research and analysis, as recent debates on the longue durée approach have shown (Guldi & Armitage 2014, Annales 70 2/2015) or the transnational turn (Putnam 2016), just to mention a few. Moreover, it raises issues on how historians relate with present time and what their role is in digital preservation matters as showcase social media and other web-based ephemeral data (Webster 2015, Rosenzweig 2003). What is essentially at stake is inter-/transdisciplinary cooperation, even the dependency of history on input from other disciplines, whether from human, social or computer science (computational linguistics, visual analytics…), engineering, library and information science. Indeed, the use of connected methodologies as historians adopt new epistemologies (data mining and visualization, GIS, encoded critical edition), sheds light on the need to adapt historians’ literacy through the development of a shared culture with computer science and mathematics (Genet 1986, Lamassé & Rygiel 2014).

Furthermore, the ecology of scientific data raises some important interdisciplinary issues related to their collection, storage, archiving, dissemination and the correspondent infrastructures. What kind of scientific sovereignty can be exercised once data storage and infrastructures are externalized, and what is its impact on access and sustainability of scientific research and its output? How can disciplinary needs for effective organization and description of historical information be met (e.g. specific ontologies) in a global environment of structured interoperable data? Moreover, old problems of biases concerning the access of primary sources are updated as the result of digitization and its possible impact on availability or, instead, underrepresentation of certain types of archives (Putnam 2016, Milligan 2013). Let’s consider, for example, the impact of institutional decision-making and constraints (such as financial ones) on the digitization of sources, new actors in the web ecosystem such as digitization companies, or even digital fractures and inequalities at national and transnational levels, just to evoke some of the most probable biases. Last but not least, one should not forget the biases that algorithms and software can generate during the collection and analysis of historical data.

2/ Digital history and public history

From a vast literature on the synergies between digital and public history (see Noiret 2011, Cauvin 2016), we chose to focus on topics that shed light on the blurred frontiers between public and scholarly history, especially the osmosis between scholars, cultural heritage institutions, private sector and citizens. From this point of view, we propose to explore three main thematic unites. First, ways in which technology is used in the cultural heritage sector in order to engage the public with history: uses of social media, augmented and virtual reality, development of tools for the public to explore patrimonial data and collections, game industry and history, private sector digitization and engagement with history… Second, historical memory and the way it emerges at individual, collective and institutional levels to show using facts the relation of people to history and the multiple ways the present affects the perception of the past. Finally, the documentation of present-time events that actually builds primary sources and archives for future historians: crowdsourced archives, social and political movements documentation (such as Spanish 15M, Nuit débout, Women’s March), political uses of technology (social media propaganda, institutional use of social media, political use of game industry as in the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict etc). How is authority conceived and how does the role of historian persist in such diversified multi-actor contexts?

3/ Pedagogy

During the last few years, several digital history departments have been created in various universities in different countries. Furthermore, even in traditional history departments, teaching now integrates components of digital culture or associated skills. There are specialized tutorial blogs (The Programming HistorianLa boîte à outils des historiens) providing for skill transfers between historians; digital transdisciplinary schools (such as the Digital Methods Initiative of the University of Amsterdam); an array of online services or/and software for one to easily explore and analyze data (Düring et al. 2011, NodegoatAnalyseSHS…). However, few systematic approaches allow to have an overall view of how historians get on with the digital transformations of their profession (Heimburger & Ruiz 2011) and even less from a transnational perspective. How are historians to teach digital history in these contexts and how are traditional and DH teaching articulated? What skills and methods do teachers need to develop for themselves, in order to teach them, and for their students to acquire them? How to better fit teaching to specific research interests so that students are able to acquire a method than simply become able to manage tools (Mahoney, Pierazzo 2012)? How are modules organized and how do students react to the teaching of digital history? How can a minimum skillset be defined in order to assure research of an acceptable quality and corresponding level publications but also a balance between a historian’s basic training and the acquisition of this skillset? Although there have been works developing the discussion (and solutions) regarding mainly the web resources (Cohen, Rosenzweig 2006), there is less focus on the ways interdisciplinarity is embedded in digital history teaching and even less on how to deal with born-digital data (e.g. social media data) use and analysis as primary sources for historians in specific modules.

Possible areas of interest for proposals include, but are not limited to, the following:
Academic research
Natural language processing and text analytics applied to historical documents
Applications of GIS
Social Network Analysis
Image analysis
Analysis of longitudinal document collections
Entity relationship extraction, detecting and resolving historical references in text
Digitizing and archiving
Applications of Artificial Intelligence techniques to History
Handling uncertain and fragmentary text and image data
OCR and transcription
Epistemologies in the Humanities and Computer Science
Novel techniques for storytelling
Historical ontologies
Historical data management and infrastructures
Software and applications development

Digital public history
Museums and exhibiting the past
Oral history and community projects
Digital media, the Internet and participatory knowledge
Moving images and documentaries
Re-enactments and living history
Historic preservation and community cultural heritage
Public archaeology
Social media, mobile app and user-generated contents
Public policies and applied history
Historical memory construction and the Web
Teaching public history

Introduction of digital research methods in classrooms
Designing digital history curricula
Digital teaching materials
Digital media as alternative to text-based student theses and research papers
Methods for digital student assessment
Teaching digital literacy
Teaching the history of the “Digital Age”
Digital history teaching commons

Proposals (up to 1000 words) can be submitted until May 31, 2017 in English or in French. All proposals will be considered. Travel expenses can receive financial support. For further questions please contact dhnord[at]meshs[dot]fr

Submit a proposal


Annales, 70 (2), 2015 (special issue: “La longue durée en débat”)

Edward L. Ayers, “The pasts and Futures of Digital History”, University of Virginia, 1999

Cameron Blevins, “Digital History’s Perpetual Future Tense” in Lauren F. Klein & Matthew K. Gold (ed.), Digital Humanities: The Expanded Field, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2016

Thomas Cauvin, Public History: a Textbook of Practice, Routledge, New York, 2016

Frédéric Clavert, Serge Noiret (ed.), L’histoire contemporaine à l’ère numérique – Contemporary History in the Digital Age, Brussels, Peter Lang, 2013

Daniel J.Cohen, Roy Rosenzweig, Digital history: a guide to gathering, preserving, and presenting the past on the Web, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006

Marten Düring, Matthias Bixler, Michael Kronenwett, Martin Stark, “VennMaker for Historians: Sources, Social Networks and Software”Revista hispana para el análisis de redes sociales, 21 (8), 2011

Jean-Philippe Genet, “Histoire, Informatique, Mesure”Histoire & Mesure, 1986, 1 (1), 7-18

Matthew K. Gold (ed.), Debates in the Digital Humanities, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2012

Shawn Graham, Ian Milligan, Scott Weingart, Exploring Big Historical Data: The Historian’s Macroscope, London, Imperial College Press, 2015

Jo Guldi, David Armitage, The History Manifesto, Cambridge University Press, 2014

Franziska Heimburger, Émilien Ruiz, « Faire de l’histoire à l’ère numérique : retours d’expériences »Revue d’histoire moderne et contemporaine, 58-4bis, 5/2011, 70-89

Brett Hirsch (ed.), Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Practices, Principles and Politics, Open Book Publishers, 2012

Matthew G. Kirschenbaum, “What is Digital Humanities and What’s It Doing in English Departments?”ADE Bulletin, 150, 2010, 55-61

Stéphane Lamassé & Philippe Rygiel, « Nouvelles frontières de l’historien »Revue Sciences/Lettres, 2, 2014

John K. Lee, “Principles for Interpretative Digital History Web Design”Journal of the Association for History and Computing, 5 (3), 2002

Deborah Lines Andersen, “Defining Digital History”Journal of the Association for History and Computing, 5 (1), 2002

Simon Mahony, Elena Pierazzo, “Teaching Skills or Teaching Methodology?” in Brett Hirsch (ed.), Digital Humanities Pedagogy: Practices, Principles and Politics, Open Book Publishers, 2012

Ian Milligan , « Illusionary Order: Online Databases, Optical Character Recognition, and Canadian History, 1997-2010 », Canadian Historical Review, 94 (4), December 2013, 540-569, DOI: 10.3138/chr.694

Serge Noiret, “La Digital History: histoire et mémoire à la portée de tous” in Pierre Mounier (ed.), Read Write Book 2: Une introduction aux humanités numériques, Marseille, OpenEdition Press, 2012

Lara Putnam, “The Transnational and the Text-Searchable: Digitized Sources and the Shadows They Cast”American Historical Review, 121 (2), April 2016, 377-402, DOI: 10.1093/ahr/121.2.377

Stephen Robertson, “The Differences between Digital Humanities and Digital History” in Lauren F. Klein, Matthew K. Gold (ed.), Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2016

Roy Rosenzweig, “Scarcity or Abundance? Preserving the Past in a Digital Era”, American Historical Review, 108, 3, 2003, 735-762

Tom Scheinfeldt, “The Dividends of Difference: Recognizing Digital Humanities’ Diverse Family Tree/s”Found History, April 7, 2014

Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth (ed.), A Companion to Digital Humanities, Oxford, Blackwell, 2004

Douglas Seefeldt, William G. Thomas, “What Is Digital History?”Perspectives on History, 2009

William G. Thomas, “Computing and the Historical Imagination” in Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, John Unsworth (ed.), A Companion to Digital Humanities, Oxford, Blackwell, 2004

Peter Webster, “Will Historians of the Future Be Able to Study Twitter ?”Webstory, Peter Webster’s Blog, 6 March 2015

Livro novo na área, artigo novo sobre “historiografia escolar digital”

Primeiramente, Fora Temer!

Com que alegria recebemos a notícia de que está pronto o livro História, Sociedade, Pensamento Educacional: experiências e perspectivas (2016), proposta encabeçada pelo Grupo de Estudos do Tempo Presente – GET e do Grupo de Estudos e Pesquisas sobre  História do Ensino Superior – GREPHES -, ambos ligados ao Programa de Pós-Graduação em Educação da Universidade Federal do Sergipe. 


Neste livro, minha amiga e grande parceira de criação, Marcella Albaine, e eu tivemos o prazer de colaborar com o artigo “Historiografia escolar digital: dúvidas, possibilidades e experimentação” (Capítulo 12, pp. 336-366), no qual buscamos tornar explícito para o leitor algumas questões implícitas em nossas elocubrações, já há algum tempo em que colaboramos no planejamento de atividades de extensão, na escrita de textos a quatro mãos e outros trabalhos que reúnem nosso interesse em torno do estudo do digital e do ensino de história. No prefácio, os organizadores introduzem assim nossa contribuição à obra:

Da TV para a internet e os novos meios e comunicação, Anita Lucchesi, que colabora a partir das suas investigações na Universidade de Luxemburgo, e Marcella Albaine, refletindo a partir da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, teceram considerações sobre a chamada historiografia escolar digital. As suas reflexões, nascidas nestes diálogos transoceânicos, nos colocam a pensar sobre: quais os caminhos a serem trilhados pelos historiadores nos tempos digitais? Quais as limitações enfrentadas pelos professores de História em meio aos suportes digitais? Como a narrativa histórica será afetada pela emergência da internet? Estas e outras preocupações são levantadas no texto que, ao final, nos relembra o caráter essencialmente humano da História e da Educação.

Prefácio de História, Sociedade, Pensamento Educacional: experiências e perspectivas, Org.  Dilton Cândido Santos Maynard & Josefa Eliana Souza. Rio de Janeiro: Autografia, 2016.

Mais uma vez, foi uma satisfação escrever com essa amiga, aprender e ressignificar muitas coisas juntas. Espero que esse humilde artigo consiga levar aos colegas leitores a proposta de pensar uma “historiografia escolar digital” que favoreça o uso criativo das ferramentas digitais, como boas aliadas para uma educação emancipadora, mas sem também enaltecer demais a máquina – carne, osso, crítica e afeto permanecem essenciais. Em tempos de duros golpes na nossa chumbada democracia e em todas as esferas da educação pública no Brasil, escrever esse artigo e desejar que ele possa estimular o debate e encorajar ainda mais a busca por um modelo formação cidadã, pode soar meio utópico, mas a publicação de um livro como esse é a prova cabal de que não se trata apenas de um sonho, mas de luta e construção coletiva de um ideal de educação universal.

Meu muito obrigada aos colegas que toparam essa missão, aos organizadores e à incansável parceria de Marcella. Sigamos em frente! 🙂

Acesse a versão ePub aqui.

Chamada – Dossiê “Ensino de História: diferentes enfoques e perspectivas”


A EBR – Educação Básica Revista convida para submissão de textos para o próximo número, que contará com o Dossiê – Ensino de História: diferentes enfoques e perspectivas. 

Pensando o Ensino de História não apenas enquanto objeto, mas também enquanto campo de pesquisa que articula conhecimentos da Teoria da História e da Educação, e que tem crescido muito nos últimos anos, nosso objetivo neste dossiê é abarcar trabalhos que pensem os processos de didatização da História, seja na esfera escolar, seja no âmbito acadêmico ou em outros espaços de circulação do conhecimento histórico (museus, web, etc.). Acreditamos que discutir a dimensão “ensinável” deste conhecimento e seus aspectos políticos e axiológicos, de maneira crítica e problematizadora, é extremamente relevante em tempos nos quais se debate nacionalmente o que é considerado válido a ser trabalhado na educação básica e superior. Assim, chamamos para o debate pesquisadores e/ou professores da educação básica para trazer relatos de suas práticas, análises que advenham de seus ofícios cotidianos, dialogando suas experiências com leituras e reflexões teóricas do campo, entendendo a sala de aula como um espaço de pesquisa. Portanto, por meio deste Dossiê chamaremos esses profissionais (que tanto têm a dizer) para uma conversa não hierarquizada, ou seja, para um diálogo efetivo que valorize e compartilhe os saberes próprio de quem ensina e de quem pesquisa.


Além dos textos para o Dossíê, continuamos a receber textos em fluxo contínuo para as demais sessões.

Organizadores do Dossiê:


Marcella Albaine Farias da Costa – Doutoranda em História pela UNIRIO, mestra em Educação, especialista em Tecnologias da Informação aplicadas à Educação e graduada em História pela UFRJ. Foi professora substituta de Didática Especial de História e Prática de Ensino de História da UFRJ e atualmente é professora da educação básica.

Marcus Leonardo Bomfim Martins – Doutorando em Educação, mestre em Educação, especialista em Ensino de História e graduado em História pela UFRJ. Professor de História na rede estadual do Rio de Janeiro.

Thiago Nunes Soares – Doutorando em História pela UNIRIO, mestre em História pela UFPE e licenciado em História pela UFRPE. Atualmente é professor substituto do Centro de Educação da UFPE, professor de Ensino de História da Universidade Estadual Vale do Acaraú, núcleo de Pernambuco e docente do curso de História EAD da UFRPE.

Livro: Desafios e caminhos da teoria e história da historiografia – 2012

A Sociedade Brasileira de Teoria e História da Historiografia (SBTHH) acaba de lançar o primeiro volume da Coleção Concurso SBTHH (2012). O livro está dividido em três partes, referentes às diferentes categorias de trabalhos submetidos ao concurso: teoria, história da historiografia geral e história da historiografia brasileira. Tenho alegria em compartilhar o link para o download da obra onde o meu humilde trabalho de monografia foi premiado e comparece na parte de História da Historiografia Geral, sob o título Historiografia em rede: história, internet e novas mídias: preocupações e questionamentos para historiadores do século XXI.


Dedico o prêmio e o trabalho à memória do Prof. Manoel Luiz Salgado Guimarães, de quem a saudade costuma apertar mais forte nesses finais de Abril. Obrigada ao Prof. Manoel e todos os professores envolvidos na minha formação, e claro, na elaboração e avaliação deste concurso, que agora nos presenteia com a reunião desses trabalhos tão frescos, cheios de vontade de descobrir o “fazer história”. Obrigada à Profa. Andrea CasaNova Maia, por não me deixar engavetar aquela ideia em 2010 e ao Prof. Dilton Maynard por me ajudar a escrever outros capítulo de 2012 a 2014.

TransVersos – Chamada para artigos sobre História Pública

Extra! Extra! Revista TransVersos prepara dossiê “História Pública: escritas contemporâneas de História”

Reproduzo abaixo o texto para a chamada para artigos:

Vivemos em uma época de crescente interesse pela história. Cada vez mais, o conhecimento histórico é chamado à produção de significados sobre a contemporaneidade, seus problemas, suas questões, impondo ao profissional de história a afirmação de seu caráter público. Para além da pesquisa historiográfica, a história se faz viva em espaços/configurações múltiplos, nem sempre aceitos ou discutidos no ambiente acadêmico: salas de aula – produzindo um tipo de conhecimento específico e dialogando com a cultura escolar; museus – com suas diferentes cores e formas de pensar a exposição do conhecimento histórico na atualidade -; produção midiática – muito além dos telejornais e suas notícias -; novelas históricas; filmes e documentários; comemorações – e suas rememorações -; encenações históricas realizadas por diferentes sujeitos sociais (re-enactments and living history); ambientes digitais – sites, blogs, podcasts e games, por exemplo; nos movimentos sociais e no desenvolvimento de políticas públicas, dentre outras formas.

O diálogo da historiografia com estas e outras searas produtoras e divulgadoras de conhecimento histórico fornece, às comunidades e aos sujeitos interessados no fortalecimento de laços identitários, discussão e reflexão acerca da subalternidade ou do empoderamento de determinados grupos/interesses, subsídios básicos para ações políticas, sociais, culturais e, por que não, acadêmicas, que auxiliam a tessitura do exercício da cidadania. Por esse motivo, a Revista TransVersos propõe a organização de um dossiê reunindo trabalhos de pesquisa e práticas de profissionais de história e historiadores não profissionais (oriundos de outras áreas de conhecimento ou de diferentes espaços da organização social) que busquem construir/refletir os temas e problemas envolvidos na noção de História Pública, entendida como um conhecimento pluridisciplinar, atento às diferenças e desigualdades que tencionam os processos sociais contemporâneos.

Os artigos devem ser enviados para a plataforma da TransVersos – – até o dia 31 de maio.


International Conference “Luso-luxemburguês? Research on Portuguese migration in Luxembourg” (19-20 February 2016)

I am so happy to announce this conference, starting tomorrow. I might say it was a great, indeed intensive, but wonderful experience to be engaged together with Thierry Hinger (UniLU / IPSE, CDMH), Nicolas Graf (CDMH) and other colleagues from CDMH and UniLu in the organization of such a conference. A detailed post on the developments of this conference might come very soon! I am very excited about meeting so many experts on the field and particularly interest in listening the participants of the actiivty “Conte a sua história” (Tell your story).

All invited!


The conference “Luso-Luxemburguês?”, co-organized by the Documentation Centre for Human Migrations (CDMH) and the University of Luxembourg, in collaboration with several institutions and associations, is a first initiative that brings together researchers at international level currently working on Portuguese migration in Luxembourg. The public is warmly invited to participate in debates.

Simultaneous translation will be provided: French – English / English – French

FIRST DAY: Friday, 19th February 2016

14h00 – 14h15

Welcome and opening words

14h15 – 17h00

Session 1 : Growing and aging in migration

Moderation: José Carlos Marques, CICS.NOVA.IPLeiria

17h15 – 17h30

Research on migration in Luxembourg

Presentation of

Thierry HINGER, CDMH, & Anita LUCCHESI, Univ. of Luxembourg, IPSE

SECOND DAY: Saturday, 20th February 2016

9h30 – 12h00

Session 2 : The comings and goings of the Portuguese in Luxembourg and diverse political issues

Moderation: Adrien THOMAS, LISER

14h30 – 16h00

Session 3 : “Conte a sua história”: a microphone open to the “comunidade portuguesa no Luxemburgo”

Moderation: Jozefien DE BOCK, Ghent University

Conclusion by José Carlos Marques, CICS.NOVA.IPLeiria


“Conte a sua história”: recording testimonies

Here the collective of researchers on Portuguese immigration stops to listen to the community itself. This activity was inspired by the practice of public history, increasingly using digital and audiovisual resources in projects built with specific communities, sharing with them historian-researcher authority. This moment within the session “Tell your story” was planned to give way to the testimonies of Portuguese attending the conference that might wish to talk about their life experiences. Therefore, all of the Portuguese community in Luxembourg is invited to participate, regardless of age, profession, or date of arrival in the Grand Duchy. Other migration experiences are equally welcome. The microphone will be open to everyone!


Full program:


Please, register by e-mail: – participation is free.

I need a Digital Research Tool to…

Oftentimes, when I mention that I study Digital History to people that are not working on it,  I get questions on some computer tricks. Everybody wants to make things faster and easier, and there is an assumption that digital tools can  bring (or should bring) a solution for almost everything. Doesn’t matter if the subject of study is “digital related” or not, if tools cannot solve problems, it can be misunderstood as if those “digital fancy things” are not really great for nothing in humanities/history realm. And, suddenly, these people interest seems to disappear. “If it has no utility, them we don’t need it”, at least, in the immediatist point of view.

However, there are a bunch of tools that can help historians in their daily work. Of course, I don’t know all of them, and that’s why, many times, I feel unprepared to answer this kind of question. Anyway, before searching for a tool, one needs to know for what purpose she or he needs a tool.

Cleaning my Favorites bookmarks, the other day, I came across a link of the American Historical Association with useful references for Getting Started in Digital History. Among literature and projects, I found (again) this directory of tools:

Captura de tela 2016-01-06 18.33.59

Digital Research Tools

If you are not familiarized with what can be done with tools and if you don’t really know the needings of your own research, it might be not so useful, but you can always jump on it, look for some reviews on specific tools you like, search for online tutorials and play with it.

It doesn’t mean that one needs to believe in some sort of technological solutionism, as criticized by Evgeny Morozov, and lose his/her time surfing the web endlessly, looking for the perfect tool, or trying to learn how to use it only for the sake of using it, because it’s hype. I believe it’s more about seeing the meaningful connections between the human and the machine work in one research, and try to figure out which kind of questions can be answered with this hybrid conjunction, mankind and computers, tradition and new technologies… Perhaps, it can turn out not only that is possible to answer X or Y question in a different way, favoring new approaches, but also be insightful for the proposition of new questions.

It’s is not a matter of changing the whole tool box of historians for a very new brand digital thing. But how to associate what we already know from our craft to the assistance those digital things can give to us.

One important exercise, is trying to not create a natural opposition between (digital) technologies and the humanists (and historians) work. Federica Frabetti has discussed the resonances of such complicated assumption in DH in her Rethinking the Digital Humanities in the Context of Originary Technicity (2011). After showing that the utilitarian mode of technology has been dominating the Western thoughts for almost three thousand years, as an Aristotelian heritage, according to  Timothy Clark, she did a strong call for critical thinking on it. She emphasized the needing for questioning “the model(s) of rationality on which digital technologies are based” while importing it to digital humanities. Such reflection on the digitality, which I very much like, could hopefully show that technology and humanities are not separated, or opposed. Rather, they can be (are) complementary. Frabetti developed an interesting argument on it, bringing together different philosophical views on technicity/technology and knowledge. In dialogue with Derrida, she argues that “dissociation between thought and technology is – as is every other binary opposition – hierarchical, since it implies the devaluation of one of the two terms of the binary”.

A second good exercise is forgetting about that perfect tool. In another opportunity, Max Kemman wrote that “no tool can do all research for you(2015), collecting his notes from the second edition of DHBenelux conference, last year, in Antwerp, Belgium (By the way, the third edition will be held next June, in Belval, and the call for proposals is here, closing 31 Jan 2016). His impression on that conference echoes my perception on the Trier Digital Humanities Autumn School 2015, co-hosted by Trier University and the University of Luxembourg. Concernings on tools were almost omnipresent in the lectures during that week, starting with the first speaker:


Thaller’s warning is a great north. However, a relative ignorance can make people be afraid of trying. As Andreas Fickers pointed out we need to be playful with those tools, use the digital without fear of taking risks, because research is about taking risks. As Claudine Moulin said in her opening words of this Autumn School the time for testing has come, but bear in mind Thaller’s reminder. You don’t need to avoid the tools because you don’t know them, dedicate yourself to understand it and learn something. If at the end of the day you do not find that it was useful to you, some knowledge will remain out of your tests. Maybe, that is not the right tool; maybe you will need to search for another one, or just other(s) to combine. Tools can also be complementary among them. You just need to understand what you need and try to find which (one, two or more) work better for your case.

As Kemman also noticed  in the same blog post: “While DH loves to develop tools, tools do not always reach their potential adoption by the target audience”. Apropos, Kemman and Martijn Kleppe presentation on user research in digital humanities  (and its value for developing tools) at Benelux 2015, showed that “due to the many unique and out-of-scope user requirements, […] there is a tension between the specificity of scholarly research methods, and generalizability for a broader applicable tool.”.

Moral of the history? First, know your needings and, if you do not know a tool, don’t be afraid to try it, one or more of them. Study it, learn about it, play with it. And, if you do not like it, or if you like but think it could work differently, search for alternatives. But, most important: share your experiences with other colleagues and, if possible, do write a review on the tools you have used. It must be useful for others like you and also for those who work developing it.


But critically. And be happy!

I hope the Digital Research Tool will be of help for some.

Soon I must be posting on the tools I will use on my research. 😉


Migration/Immigration Network of the SSHA (Chicago, November 17-20, 2016)

Reposting a CFP from H-Migration

CFPs: Migration Network of the Social Science History Association (SSHA)

41st Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association

Date and Location: Chicago, Illinois, November 17-20, 2016

Conference Theme: “Beyond Social Science History: Knowledge in an Interdisciplinary World”

Submission Deadline: February 20th, 2016

The SSHA is the leading interdisciplinary association for historical research in the US; its members share a common concern for interdisciplinary approaches to historical problems. The organization’s long-standing interest in methodology also makes SSHA meetings exciting places to explore new solutions to historical problems. We encourage the participation of graduate students and recent PhDs as well as more-established scholars, from a wide range of disciplines and departments.

We hereby invite you to submit panels, papers, and posters related to the theme of migration widely defined for the forthcoming conference on“Beyond Social Science History: Knowledge in an Interdisciplinary World” in Chicago. We encourage submissions on all aspects of social science history. Submission of complete sessions and interdisciplinary panels are especially welcome.

The Migration Network is one of the largest and most active networks at the SSHA. This year’s theme focusing on interdisciplinary historical studies and that ways in which disciplinary boundaries have stretched to integrate new methodologies, data, tools from the physical and biological sciences, as well as literature, arts, medicine and technology offers especially rich opportunities for migration scholars.

We are seeking submissions that address the topics below. Related subjects and new ideas are also welcome: 

  • Refugees, Public health and the Law
  • Public Policy and Refugees
  • Refugees and the “European Crisis”
  • Gendering of Mobility: Refugees, Labor Migrants, Family unification
  • Migration, Mobility and Environmentalism (epidemiology public health, climate change)
  • Migration and the Digital Humanities
  • Forced and Free Migrations
  • Migration history in the Public Sphere
  • Narratives of Migration: Oral Histories and Storytelling
  • Emotions and Migration
  • Citizenship and the Law: Forms of Inclusion (birthright) and Forms of Deportation
  • Migration and Diplomacy
  • Migrants, Refugees and Grassroots politics
  • War and Migration
  • History, Memory and the shaping of Contemporary Migration Debates
  • Migration Scholars as Public Intellectuals
  • Teaching Migration: National Differences or Disciplinary Challenges

We are now accepting conference submissions for the 2016 SSHA Annual Conference.  You may login to submit a panel or paper directly at ( Individuals who are new to the SSHA need to create an account prior to using the online submission site. Please keep in mind that if your panel is accepted, every person on the panel has to register for the conference. Graduate students are eligible to apply for financial support to attend the annual meeting (see

Please feel free to contact the Migration Network Representatives for comments, questions, assistance creating a panel or for help with submissions:

Marina Maccari-Clayton (

Gráinne McEvoy (

Linda Reeder (

Dispersed thoughts on egodocuments

Anne Frank - 80th birth anniversary

– Image by © ADE JOHNSON/epa/Corbis

What if the refugees of nowadays, whether from Syria or any part of the globe, keep diaries that could be used for historians in the near future to tell the story of their fleeing affliction over the so called “refugees crisis”? Would they have become iconic figures of their wars and suffering? Would they have got the right to own a house in new nation? Would they have been translated in other languages? Would people cry on their accounts? There would be movies and museums for them? Would they have earned a NAME?

Just some foolish questions while reading a text that recalls what the Amsterdam historian Jacques Presser* has written in 1947 about Anne Frank [and her diary]: she was a stateless refugee when she died. As well remarked in The Diaries of Anne Frank – Research – Translation – Critical Edition project description: Around the world, many children and teenagers have read and are still reading editions of Anne´s diaries—either at school or in private. In the biography of many readers, as well as in national commemorative cultures, the engagement with the war and the Holocaust began with the diary of Anne Frank. It became a symbol.
*Presser coined the controversial neologism of “egodocument”, which at that time, was the body of sources of main interest to him: autobiographies, diaries, letters…. “those documents in which an ego deliberately or accidentally discloses or hides itself”.


Dekker, Rudolf. ‘Jacques Presser’s Heritage: Egodocuments in the Study of History’, in Memoria y Civilización 5 (2002), pp. 13-37.

For more publications on egodocuments, see the Center for the Study of Egodocuments and History