December 9-11, 2021
International Conference and Workshop at the GHI
Conveners: German Historical Institute Washington in collaboration with Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C2DH), Chair of Digital History at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Consortium Initiative NFDI4Memory, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, and Stanford University, Department of History
The Fifth Annual GHI Conference on Digital Humanities and Digital History will revolve around the concept of “datafication,” that is, the production of and the shift toward digital representations of historical sources as a prerequisite for storage, access, and analysis, not to mention their transmission and publication online.
Historians outside the field of quantitative social history rarely consider their objects of study as “data,” even when they look at documents or paintings in digitized versions on their screen. These witnesses of human lives call for emotional, imaginative, and empathetic engagement and thus cannot be reduced to mere commodities to fuel a new kind of computational research, despite what the slogan “data is the new oil” might suggest. Sources, not data, we might thus insist, are at the heart of historical research. On the other hand, we readily observe that gathering, organizing, sorting, excluding, and searching for selected information from (digital) sources are routine processes of historical investigation. Data-centered research, seen from this angle, seems more a continuation with updated tools and technologies than a radical break from traditional methods of inquiry. Johanna Drucker has forcefully pointed out that we should reconceive all data as “capta,” taken and not simply given as the designation might imply.