Description of the research group
The proliferation of digital technologies and large-scale digitization initiatives over the past decades have caused the cultural past to be more present than ever before. International and national infrastructure projects like Europeana, Time Machine and CLARIAH have brought cultural objects from several centuries together in new, virtual environments. Besides, various tools and applications have been developed to make digital heritage available to users and scholars, such as 3D reconstruction for the visualization of archaeological sites, mobile apps for augmenting the experience of monuments, and online portals for browsing digitized newspapers, archival documents, photographs and audiovisual collections.
Digital technologies afford new ways of interacting with cultural heritage that change our experience and interpretation of the past, and thus deeply affect processes of identity formation and remembrance. On one hand, this creates new opportunities, such as facilitating and widening humanities research and offering new ways to engage audiences. On the other, it presents new challenges, such as making digital heritage collections sustainable, findable, and tailored to users’ needs – the implications of which still need to be mapped out.
Addressing these developments, the research conducted within the Digital Heritage group aims to deepen and expand knowledge of and insights into the effects of digital cultural heritage collections for processes of identity formation and remembrance. It does so by organizing regular research meetings – focusing on a new theme each year - and by developing collaborative research projects and methods for digital heritage research, that critically reflect on the impact of digitization on our experience of the cultural past. In the process of developing new tools and applications for digital heritage, the domain research group contributes to the valorization of knowledge by collaborating with heritage professionals and private partners.
The research on digital heritage is conducted in various (mostly externally funded) projects, that are grouped along three main axes:
- Historiographic and methodological: the use of digitized and born digital cultural heritage and digital methods for researching and presenting history (urban and media history especially) with a focus on Amsterdam, seen from a ‘glocal’ perspective (projects that contribute to the AIHR research program and lab Creative Amsterdam: An E-Humanities Perspective (CREATE), Virtual Interiors, Digital Truths, Visualizing Film History)
- Technical: researching and building infrastructures for accessing and reusing digital cultural heritage (Time Machine, CLARIAH PLUS, Twi-XL).
- Epistemological: organizing reading group and seminar activities centered around a new theme each year with the aim of discussing the epistemological foundations of methods, projects and research in development (research theme 2022-23: Digital Heritage & Conflict).
Throughout, the role of digital technology for accessing and interpreting cultural heritage, including recent advances in artificial intelligence, is studied from a cultural and socio-technical perspective, assessing both the opportunities it brings for new forms of engagement and a more inclusive, participatory approach to collecting and interpreting cultural heritage and the challenges it faces in doing justice to the complexity of human culture and identity.
In addition to the envisioned reading group and seminar activities the research group’s involvement in various research projects will result in a broad variety of types of output (see list below).
|CREATE||Workshops and research meeting|
Digital Truths: Practicing Media Historiography in the Digital Age
|Visualizing Film History: Film Archives, Digital Methods and Visual regimes of Historicity||1 monograph|
Virtual Interiors as Interfaces for Big Historical Data
1 PhD, articles, data publications, blog posts, VRE prototype (software), valorisation activities (e.g. media appearances)
Archiving Covid-19 Communities
Online platform for data collection, an archive of citizen perspectives on the pandemic, articles, valorization activities
Time Machine Organization
Workshops, conferences and articles
CLARIAH Media Suite research infrastructure for AV heritage collections (film, broadcast media, newspapers, oral history), articles
Platform for accessing and visualizing social media data; connection to the CLARIAH Media Suite; articles by postdoc
Work plan and time schedule:
The research group’s current period runs from 2022 to 2026. Besides developing new regular activities (in particular reading group and seminar activies) in this period, the group is also involved in carrying out research and project management tasks related to the projects listed below.
CREATE Research Project and Lab (2014-2023): Research Priority Area funding by the UvA Board.
The Digital Heritage group members collaborate in projects within the following areas:
- Performing Arts: research on Amsterdam cinema culture and nightlife.
- Amsterdam Time Machine: coordinating the research and building of a temporal and spatial infrastructure for accessing and reusing the historical information on Amsterdam from various research projects and cultural heritage institutions.
- Artificial Intelligence for Cultural Heritage: conducting research and applying for funding, among others in the context of the new Cultural AI Lab.
- Teaching digital methods: efforts to implement digital sources, tools and methods in existing course offerings at UvA.
- Societal impact: conducting research on the impact of humanities research with the aim to eventually establish a monitor.
Digital Truths: Practicing Media Historiography in the Digital Age (ongoing-2022)
Book project on the epistemological and methodological implications of working with digital sources and methods in media historical research by Julia Noordegraaf, to result in a monograph, to be completed in 2022.
Visualizing Film History: Film Archives, Digital Methods and Visual regimes of Historicity
Book project critical approach to doing film historiography with digital tools and digitized archives.
Virtual Interiors as Interfaces for Big Historical Data (2018-2022) (NWO Smart Culture – Big Data/Digital Humanities grant)
The Virtual Interiors as Interfaces for Big Historical Data project focuses on the question of how we can develop and publish 2D/3D/4D user interfaces to the linked data of the Semantic Web in the form of digital maps and virtual rooms using historical data on the production and the consumption of the Dutch Golden Age. Deliverables include a PhD, various scholarly publications and a prototype Virtual Research Environment for 2D and 3D research data.
Archiving Covid-19 Communities (2020-2025)
Via a recently launched platform we collect data from citizens that document the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on their everyday lives. This initially is a research collection that will eventually be transferred to a cultural heritage institution. Presently the editorial team analyses the Corona in the City, Dagboek Corona and Verhalen uit het Hart collections of which a publication is prepared for a Special Issue of the Journal of Open Humanities Data (foreseen in 2021).
CLARIAH PLUS (2019-2023) (NWO Large-Scale Scientific Research Infrastructure grant)
To this national research infrastructure for digital humanities research the Digital Heritage group contributes integration of social media and computer vision for digital humanities research.
TWiXL: An Infrastructure for Cross-Media Research on Public Debates (2020-2025) (Platform Digital Infrastructure SSH grant)
To this research infrastructure for cross-media research the Digital Heritage group contributes overall coordination and a case study project on cross-media research by a Postdoctoral Researcher.
Nearly all projects of the Digital Heritage group involve public and/or private partners from the fields of cultural heritage and the creative industries. Consequently, both the research focus and output are directly informed by societal challenges and problems and contribute to solutions for them.
Research Group Type: Project group
Faculty of Humanities
Members of the research group
- Prof. Julia Noordegraaf (Professor of Digital Heritage, director of the CREATE research program and lab), Department of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam
- Dr. Christian Olesen (Assistant Professor Digital Media & Cultural Heritage), Department of Media Studies
- Anna Schjøtt Hansen (PhD candidate), AHM, Cultural AI/AI4Media
- Dr. Chiara Piccoli (Postdoctoral Researcher), Department of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam
Institutional or professional partners
- Time Machine Organization, Vienna
- Humanities Cluster, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
- Huygens Institute for Dutch History, KNAW
- Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
- National Library of the Netherlands KB
- SURF Foundation
- eScience Center
- Municipality of Amsterdam, CTO office
- Monuments & Archaeology, Municipality of Amsterdam
- Amsterdam City Archives
- Amsterdam Museum