PhD Research Diary

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. 😉


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

Minha Pesquisa no Café História TV

Recentemente conversei com o Bruno Leal do Café História sobre a Minha Pesquisa. Primeira vez em que falo da minha pesquisa de doutorado aqui na Universidade de Luxemburgo. Bom papo sobre História Digital, História Pública, historiografia, imigração portuguesa e italiana em Luxemburgo. Mais uma vez, obrigada Bruno pelo convite.

2015. A visual epilogue

Edgardo Catalán; "Palimpsesto", Acuarela, 47x38 cms. 1998.

Edgardo Catalán; “Palimpsesto”, Acuarela, 47×38 cms. 1998.

The long 2015 year is almost ending and the feeling of retrospectives comes over, even if I (We, mortal historians) know the calendar is only a convention (but a very strong convention).

I liked this Palimpsest painting from the Chilean artist Edgardo Catalán to resume my year, but opening other windows. I came across it when looking for some visual references on mosaic and palimpsest concept, while thinking on a paper I am writing for the XIXth International Oral History Conference (2016, Bengalore). I’ve got surprised because I started to write this retrospective and I got to an article written by Sergio Rojas on Catalán’s work, which title and subtitle are/were pretty expressive and meaningful for the right moment in which I am writing this blog post. Yet, the epigraph and as well as the first lines of the text catched me in a pungent, emotional way:


Serendipity, I thought. Not only the word of “retrospective” was there, but the epigraph on Ithaca (which I highly recalled on my first post the PhD research diary, starting this year), and the beautiful description of such an artistic work that gets to bring together, visually, all the enchanting voices of memory. And I was so grateful to Dr. Google today for giving me the pleasure of this synesthetic experience in a matter of minutes.

I enjoy the catharsis effect of those coincidences and self-identification. It is very soothing and rewarding that an artistic piece, even when the eye contact is digitally mediated, can bring you to a certain point of release.  Now I got this feeling that I should get a flight to Chile and come to meet Catalán and his painted poetics in person. Ok, one more thing for my to-do list of dreams.

By now, I just would like to share with you (who are you, my presumed readers?) this awe-inspiring piece that, somehow, resume my year, both in the sense of summarizing its multiples layers, but also the in resuming function of re-starting something that have been paused. So I hope now, after settling down at a new University, in a new Country, with new and amazing colleagues, I will be able to continue my life, smoothly, from January on, back to my sanity, after all moving stress and adaptation.

Happy “everything”, people!

E schéine Chrëschtdag an e glécklecht neit Joer!

Bonne Fête!

Feliz Natal e um ótimo Ano de 2016 para todos nós!

I wish history can keep being passionate and surprising to us in 2016. Let’s hope, mankind will do it better.

Ps: Just thinking that this image could also be a good prologue for 2016. Thanks, Edgardo Catalán! Things keep being connected ans sinergic. 🙂

Next Wednesday (18/Nov) @ Institut d’Histoire Culturelle Européene Bronislaw Geremek

Hi everybody! I am more than happy to inform that next week I will be at the Château des Lumières, in Lunéville, for a presentation on “Festas Portuguesas”, together with Florence Florin and Diégo Ropele.

This presentation will be part of the Mercredis Européens of the Institut d’Histoire Culturelle Européene Bronislaw Geremek, which are described as Conférences apéritives, illustrées et participatives d’histoire culturelle. 🙂 

The invitation for this exciting meeting, at this environment of a popular audience, came when I was in Trier, in the occasion of the Digital Humanities Autumn School 2015, where I hopefully met Didier Francfort, and while talking about migration history, public history and cultural history, the idea of discussing Portuguese popular parties/celebration at Lunéville raised up.

More info, here:  Everybody is welcome!


RDV du Dimanche with Emmanuel Mbolela @ Centre de Documentation sur les Migrations Humaines

Last week I came for the first time, after arrived in Luxembourg, to the Centre de Documentation sur les Migrations Humaines – a trés sympas building at the Gare-Usine, in Dudelange (it is very easy to get there), with space for exhibitions, conference room, library and an interesting archive (not only on Italian and Portuguese Migration!).

I will write more about this visit to the Centre Doc (this is, I realize, the abbreviation that the friends of the CDMH use 🙂 ) and the tour at the Quartier Italie I did yesterday in a further opportunity. By now, if you want a quick view n the Quartier, you can see this link from the Institut Europeen des Itineraires Culturels, or this 4 pages dossier, by Antoinette Reuter, who is herself a historian, collaborator of the Centre Doc, and has been engaged with the subject of migration for long time now.

Today I write to tell about the meeting they will have this Sunday, which has as a guest Emmanuel Mbolela, with an autobiographic book on his politic activities in the République Démocratique du Congo, and the huge repression that forced him to emigrate. A touching account on the violence and the exploitation he faced in his journey,  crossing the Sahara, then arriving in Morocco, where he became co-founder of an association of Congolese refugees. After four years, he acquired refugee status in the Netherlands, where a new chapter began, with other experiences and challenges to face, as, for example, the  extremely harsh working conditions, which are subject mainly immigrant workers.

Emmanuel Mbolela will tell us his story and a bit about the book in a especial lecture this Sunday (08/Nov), 15:00h, at the Centre de Documentation sur les Migrations Humaines. ALL INVITED! The event is bilingual, German and French.

I will be there.

More information:

“Mein Weg vom Kongo nach Europa: Zwischen Widerstand, Flucht und Exil”
Lesung von Emmanuel Mbolela


If you want to be aware about the future cultural activities of the Centre Doc, subscribe yourself to the Newsletter / Liste de difusion here

6e Assises de l’historiographie luxembourgeoise

I am happy to share the upcoming event on the Historie du Temps Présent at the University of Luxembourg (UL). The Assises will be opened by a conference of Pieter Lagrou, from the Université Livre de Bruxelles, on November 19, 19:00, and the last session will be on November 21, in the afternoon, with a discussion about Media and Popular History, in which my supervisor, Prof. Andreas Fickers will give a talk together wth his colleague Paul Lesch, also from UL.

I am interested in attending it, not only because of my interest in the migration discussion in Luxembourg – which will be an issue for at least one session – but bescause the theme of the event itself, as it has been something of interest to me since my undergrad in Brazil: o Tempo Presente. I would like my colleagues from the Grupo de Estudos do Tempo Presente to be here, and join us in the discussion, even if the focus is the Luxembourgish Historiography.

You can find the full program below (click to enlarge), or access it here.

Registration by e-mail, contact: Elisabeth Boesen


Spread the word! 🙂

[PhD Research Diary] First entry “Everything is connected now”

When you depart for Ithaca, wish for the road to be long,

full of adventure, full of knowledge.

from Ithaca (Ἰθάκη),  by Konstantinos Kavafis.*

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 11.05.09

Detail of The Siren Vase, an Attic pottery from 480BC-470BC (circa)

This is the first of a serie of posts I expect to share with you during the next three years of my life, which I will dedicate to my PhD research at the Digital History Lab (website coming soon) of the University of Luxembourg, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Andreas Fickers. And you are welcome to follow the outstanding upcoming stories in the tag PhD Research Diary.  🙂

As all the new beginnings, this introductory post makes me feel a little bit self-reflexive. Looking at my life in the rearview, I would say now it is everything connected, from a very personal point of view.  The first time I got interested in the subject of Digital History I was in Europe, more precisely, in Italy (where the above pottery is supposed to be found), for my first study experience abroad, at the Università Degli Studi di Firenze. Now, I am back to the Continent with another baggage experience, and a slightly better understanding of the importance of travels for our personal life stories, and (why not?) for the “big” History.

I like that now, beyond be researching something that, I hope, will be useful to my colleagues working in the field of History in a near future, I will also be working directly with people, either because this project is also a public history project, either because I will be using oral history methods. Or, yet, because, afterwards, I hope my research can bring some effective contribution to the reality of so many people who have ever experienced what it is to be an immigrant. Well, it is actually bold to say that, but one can always dream (and I have some affinity with John Lennon).

I say that because, in this PhD, the investigation about the consequences of digital technologies, new tools and methods for the historiographical operation is not the unique propose of my research. Now, in addition to the issues that I was already asking myself in the last years, partly present in my Master Thesis, completed at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, I got many new things on my plate, just to mention a few keywords: migration, memory, oral history, public history… and all the whole new worlds each topic can unfold to me.  I am still familiarising with new literature and trying to find myself in this new scenario. I am curious and anxious to know what is to come. At the moment, the plan is developing a more detailed version of the research project Shaping a digital memory platform on migration narratives? A public history project on Italian and Portuguese migration memories in Luxembourg. I hope to have it done, including a research timeline and a well structure writing plan by the end of this first semester. In this meanwhile, there will be other posts here, but you are free (and I would be pleased) to send me questions, suggestions, critics or just a “hello/salut/moien!” at any time you like. I would really appreciate to receive comments and advice, specially in what concern migration History, Italian and Portuguese emigration/immigration to Luxembourg. So, please, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or writing me an e-mail if you have an idea (all ideas are good, until proven otherwise).

Of course, all this novelty can be frightening, to some extent, but at the same time, it is so fascinating to have the opportunity to dive in a very different thing. Not to mention that I am changing too, I moved from Rio de Janeiro to Luxembourg Ville, I left my family, friends and cats, I am learning a new language, dealing with different weather, enjoying other landscapes, aromas and flavours… and this can sound hard, but actually it is way exciting! I have to grow up here, and this is probably the major challenge beyond everything. It is hard, but so good to go out of inertia. And, at the end, I think I am a lucky person: it is not so far from my family in Florence and, also for academic reasons, I have some very special people to support me in Europe at the moment.

Perhaps I should apologize for the intimate tone of a post that is supposed to open a new tag on my professional life (oh, that sounded philosophical!). But as I will argue later about the importance of seeking certain hybridism on the combination of historiographical traditions with the new digital history, here too I think it is somewhat necessary to think about personal and professional life together. It’s so difficult to separate the “Anita-Anita” from the “Anita-historian”, it is everything connected. I hope you do not mind. I promise, next time, give less attention to my personal matters. After all, you do not want to know, for example, how I feel having to turn on the heater in October. As my ex-supervisor used to say, sometimes I just need to remember that words are to say something, not “to flourish” it. Thank you, Dilton! Also that lesson you taught me, but you also taught me to be rebel, and here I am. But I hope, for this first post, everybody will forgive me, even Prof. Dr. Dilton Maynard.

*I could do anything unless remember Kavafis/Cavafy’s poem when I started to write this post, which in turn, reminds me of Professor Manoel Luiz Salgado Guimarães (for those who read Portuguese, see here),  whose work, teaching and passion for history inspired me a lot. He show us – the undergrad students at that time – this poem in one of his last lessons, in his last course. I will never forget. And this inspiration is undoubtedly enough to give me the determination to face whatever is coming, in the better way as possible, with a good feeling in the heart, and seeing things with good eyes, keeping Ithaca always in my mind.

PS: I have to thank my office mate Max Kemman for the brilliant idea of working with some music in the background. It was just perfect to finish this post listening to Caetano Veloso’s Transa, an album from 1972, when Brazil were under the military dictatorship, and Caetano had to spent some time in a political exile in London. Caetano was right, it is a long, long, long way.