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See detailIntroduction to Digital History
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Presentation (2021, November 03)

Introduction to digital history for C²DH internal training program, focusing on the history of digital history and the ways in which digitised and digital heritage affects historical research (politics of ... [more ▼]

Introduction to digital history for C²DH internal training program, focusing on the history of digital history and the ways in which digitised and digital heritage affects historical research (politics of digitisation). [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 64 (1 UL)
See detailKeynote lecture: Exploring Jewish History in the Digital Age
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Scientific Conference (2021, October 04)

This lecture will explore the intersection of Jewish Studies and Digital Humanities in general, and the myriad ways in which new technologies affect the field of Jewish History in particular. Importantly ... [more ▼]

This lecture will explore the intersection of Jewish Studies and Digital Humanities in general, and the myriad ways in which new technologies affect the field of Jewish History in particular. Importantly, the digital turn in Jewish Studies needs to be historicised; as is the case for the humanities in general, applications of computing in Jewish Studies go back at least 60 years. And as is true for the humanities in general, we should be careful to differentiate engagements with technology in the various (sub-)disciplines that Jewish Studies incorporates, while remaining attentive to common methodological and epistemological questions. In my lecture I will address these broader issues and ask what specific characteristics, if any, Jewish Studies scholars face, before delving into the specific challenges for Jewish historical research. I will then discuss how digital approaches have been, are, and could be harnassed to address these. As digitisation opens up new avenues for research, and can help overcome the classic problem of dispersal of sources, a crucial question to ask is what (Jewish) heritage is being digitised and which stories about the (Jewish) past can (and cannot) be told using them. What are the politics of digitisation in the context of Jewish history and how can we ensure that the offline Jewish historical record remains as relevant as its online counterpart in an age where more and more scholars move to using online resources? In short, how does the digital turn affect Jewish historical research and how can we bring about the full potential of the digital turn for research into Jewish history? [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 58 (0 UL)
See detailUncovering Digital History’s forgotten roots: the work of the Association for History and Computing
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Presentation (2021, October)

This talk has two parts. It will first attempt to frame what a history of digital history might look like, by focusing on hybridity as a key characteristic of historical research, seen as some form of ... [more ▼]

This talk has two parts. It will first attempt to frame what a history of digital history might look like, by focusing on hybridity as a key characteristic of historical research, seen as some form of integrating newly emerging tools, technologies, materials, and/or practices in historical research, and mapped and qualified according to the main phases of historical research. My main argument here is that, in order to ground our current ‘digital’ practices and learn from past experiences and expertise, we need an answer to the question: what were, and are, the continuities and ruptures in the use and uptake of new technologies in historical research, and in the debates that accompanied them? The paper will then proceed to outline what groundwork is necessary to explore digital history’s forgotten roots: a basic overview of the field’s different spatio-temporal trajectories and the networks of computing historians in the pre-PC and early PC period. A key focal point for such a reconstruction are the DH conferences that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, either as singular events or strands of bigger conferences such as the International Congress of Historical Sciences in Moscow in 1970, and later those that were organised under the aegis of the Association for History and Computing (AHC, 1987-2001) and its national member organisations. By studying which scholars attended and where they came from, and by linking that to the topics and methods that were discussed, it will be possible to chart, over time, shifting geographical, topical and methodological developments. In the second part of my paper, I will provide the first results of a concrete case study which is part of this broader endeavour, namely a web archaeology of the old AHC website and H-NET Discussion List for History and Computing (now: H-Digital History). [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 48 (2 UL)
See detailExploring the History of Digital History
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Scientific Conference (2021, September 20)

As long as new preservation technologies and computing machines have been developed, the question of their utility and uptake in historical research practices has been debated. Yet, the very fact that ... [more ▼]

As long as new preservation technologies and computing machines have been developed, the question of their utility and uptake in historical research practices has been debated. Yet, the very fact that historical knowledge production has always been affected by new and emerging technologies is often forgotten. Similarly, the fact that key epistemological and methodological questions in what we now call ‘digital history’ were already debated decades ago by earlier generations of computing historians (analog and digital) is often overlooked. There is a lack of transmission of accumulated knowledge from the past and it sometimes seems as if every new generation of historians rediscovers the promise of ‘digital history’, with all of its attending hopes, visions and ambitions for reinventing and reshaping historical research. To fill this gap, this paper will explore what a history of digital history might look like. It will do so by focusing on hybridity as a key characteristic of historical research. Hybridity, seen as some form of integrating newly emerging tools, technologies, materials, and/or practices in historical research, has a long history that predates the advent of computers. In my paper I will map and qualify that history according to the main phases of historical research. The paper will conclude by outlining what groundwork is necessary to explore digital history’s forgotten roots: a basic overview of the field’s different spatio-temporal and ideological trajectories and recreation of the networks of computing historians in the pre-PC and early PC period. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 73 (1 UL)
Full Text
See detailReview of Adam Crymble: Technology and the Historian. Transformations in the Digital Age
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

in H-Soz-Kult: Kommunikation und Fachinformation für die Geschichtswissenschaften (2021)

Detailed reference viewed: 50 (3 UL)
See detailExploring the History of Digital History
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Presentation (2021, May 25)

For as long as new preservation technologies and computing machines have been developed, the question of their utility and uptake in historical research practices has been debated. Yet, the very fact that ... [more ▼]

For as long as new preservation technologies and computing machines have been developed, the question of their utility and uptake in historical research practices has been debated. Yet, the very fact that historical knowledge production has always been affected by new and emerging technologies is often forgotten. Similarly, the fact that key epistemological and methodological questions in what we now call ‘digital history’ were already debated decades ago by earlier generations of computing historians (analogue and digital) is often overlooked. There is a lack of transmission of accumulated knowledge from the past and it sometimes seems as if every new generation of historians rediscovers the promise of ‘digital history’, with all of its attending hopes, visions and ambitions for reinventing and reshaping historical research. In order to ground our current ‘digital’ practices and learn from past experiences and expertise, we need to contextualise and qualify what is new and what is not. In other words, we need an answer to the question: what were, and are, the continuities and ruptures in the use and uptake of new technologies in historical research, and in the debates that accompanied them? This paper is an attempt to frame what such a history of digital history might look like. It will do so by focusing on hybridity as a key characteristic of historical research. Hybridity, seen as some form of integrating newly emerging tools, technologies, materials, and/or practices in historical research, has a long history that predates the advent of computers. In my paper I will map and qualify that history according to the main phases of historical research: data & information gathering, processing, analysis and dissemination. Importantly, the speed, enthusiasm and rate of the uptake of new technologies in historical research differs and has differed significantly across these phases, in space as well as time. The paper will conclude by outlining what groundwork is necessary to explore digital history’s forgotten roots: a basic overview of the field’s different spatio-temporal trajectories and the networks of computing historians in the pre-PC and early PC period. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 46 (0 UL)
See detailDigital Cultural Heritage and the Politics of Digitisation
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Scientific Conference (2021, May 11)

This talk deals with a question that is becoming increasingly important for historians who work with digitised cultural heritage: what are the politics of digitisation and what are its implications for ... [more ▼]

This talk deals with a question that is becoming increasingly important for historians who work with digitised cultural heritage: what are the politics of digitisation and what are its implications for historical research? Is the often-lauded democratising potential of digitisation also offset by challenges, inherent in selection processes that might privilege the digitisation of heritage corresponding to existing national master narratives, the availability of funding and/or the priorities set by cultural policies and certain research agendas? How does transnational heritage fit into this picture when most digitisation projects are, in one way or another, nationally framed? What biases can digital archives introduce in our work and how does that differ from issues of bias and selection in the ‘paper’ archive? A key point to highlight is that professional historians can and should be more open to learn from the experience of digital archivists and librarians who are at the forefront of the digital turn in heritage wsk. the talk will conclude with a brief plea and suggestion for transparancy guidelines for digital resources. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 53 (1 UL)
See detailThe Digital Archive and the Politics of Digitisation
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Presentation (2021, April 28)

This talk deals with a question that is becoming increasingly important for historians who work with digitised cultural heritage: what are the politics of digitisation and what are its implications for ... [more ▼]

This talk deals with a question that is becoming increasingly important for historians who work with digitised cultural heritage: what are the politics of digitisation and what are its implications for historical research? Is the often-lauded democratising potential of digitisation also offset by risks, inherent in selection processes that might privilege the digitisation of heritage corresponding to existing national master narratives, the availability of funding and/or the priorities set by cultural policies and certain research agendas? How does transnational heritage fit into this picture when most digitisation projects are, in one way or another, nationally framed? What biases can digital archives introduce in our work and how does that differ from issues of bias and selection in the ‘paper’ archive? In discussing these questions, I will provide a couple of examples before emphasising the importance of more transparency in this regard and the need for guidelines about how digital archives are constituted. A key point to highlight is that professional historians can and should be more open to learn from the experience of digital archivists and librarians who are at the forefront of the digital turn in heritage work. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 51 (0 UL)
See detailMapping wartime Jewish diaries and their postwar trajectories
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Scientific Conference (2021, March 26)

If Auschwitz has become the key symbol of the Holocaust, then the fate of Anne Frank and her family has become symbolic of Jewish wartime experiences in Nazi-occupied Europe, and Anne’s diaries of Jewish ... [more ▼]

If Auschwitz has become the key symbol of the Holocaust, then the fate of Anne Frank and her family has become symbolic of Jewish wartime experiences in Nazi-occupied Europe, and Anne’s diaries of Jewish diary writing. As such they are constitutive of people’s ideas about the Holocaust and the Jewish experience during World War II. Indeed, the Anne Frank diaries are intrinsic to the development of postwar Holocaust memory. Yet we know that the case of Anne Frank was far from representative, and insofar as scholars strive to recover the full range of Jewish wartime experiences, as filtered through autobiographical texts, this situation is obviously problematic. In contrast to Anne Frank and her diary, the ‘context of textual production’ (Garbarini 2014) for any Jew writing in Eastern Europe, in the very centre of the killings, could not be more different. As a result diary writing here diferred starkly in terms of both content and intent. This is particularly true for Yiddish diaries, which reflect the experiences of the poorest Jews in Eastern Europe. This paper focuses on wartime Jewish diaries from Poland. It is based mostly upon the collection of diaries from the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, 75% of which are written in Polish and around 20% in Yiddish. Importantly, the collection’s inventory indicates both the locations were the writer is known to have been, as well as those locations which are mentioned in the diary, which of course do not necessarily overlap. As a result the collection’s metadata allow us to map several things: the spatio-linguistic distribution of wartime diaries and the areas covered by them; and the spread of news, as reflected by the locations covered by the diaries’ contents. Moreover, in addition to enabling the analysis of a wealth of contextual information, the inventory also lists known translation and/or publication data for each diary. As a result, we can get a glimpse in their postwar trajectories and analyse which diaries were published, where and at what time, and in which translations. This, in turn, can tell us much about the relation between translation and Holocaust memory since, as Naomi Seidman has argued (2006), “the canon of Holocaust literature should be read as the rewriting of this historical event for new audiences”. A final step would be to embed information from the diaries’ themselves, and the actual experiences that are conveyed, into the maps, thus creating a deep map which combines more factual information about the diaries with the subjective lived experiences contained within them. The project seeks to contribute to a more balanced understanding of wartime Jewish diaries and writing during WWII in Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe, though the prism of a specific collection. The broader aim of the paper is to provide an example of the type of new spatio-temporal insights that can be gleaned from collections’ metadata, in addition to ‘traditional’ textual content analysis. The project uses Nodegoat (nodegoat.net) as a way to manage, explore and visualise the data. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 35 (0 UL)
See detailDigital history and the politics of digitization
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Scientific Conference (2021, March 10)

This paper addresses the question of the politics of (cultural heritage) digitisation and its consequences for historical research. To put it simply, it discusses the question of why, where and how we can ... [more ▼]

This paper addresses the question of the politics of (cultural heritage) digitisation and its consequences for historical research. To put it simply, it discusses the question of why, where and how we can access what we can access. The online documentary record affects historical research and we need to understand how and in what ways our online evidentiary basis is constituted and might affect our research. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 39 (1 UL)
See detailExploring the History of Digital History
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Scientific Conference (2021, March 01)

This short paper will present the first results, and outline my new project which investigates the early trajectories of history and computing and focuses on the networks of computing historians in the ... [more ▼]

This short paper will present the first results, and outline my new project which investigates the early trajectories of history and computing and focuses on the networks of computing historians in the pre-PC and early PC period. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 62 (1 UL)
Full Text
See detailRound table: Jewish Studies in the Digital Age
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Presentation (2021, January 14)

The international virtual conference “#DHJewish - Jewish Studies in the Digital Age” took place from 11 to 14 January 2021 and brought together more than sixty scholars and heritage practitioners to ... [more ▼]

The international virtual conference “#DHJewish - Jewish Studies in the Digital Age” took place from 11 to 14 January 2021 and brought together more than sixty scholars and heritage practitioners to discuss how the digital turn affects the field of Jewish Studies. The conference ended with a closing round table, which was introduced and moderated by Gerben Zaagsma, and featured Miriam Rürup, Sinai Rusinek, Daniel Stoekl Ben Ezra, Rachel Deblinger and Jeffrey Shandler. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 63 (3 UL)
Full Text
See detailReview: Mapping Modern Jewish Cultures
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

in Reviews in Digital Humanities (2021), 2(1),

Review of the website Mapping Modern Jewish Cultures (https://richbrew.org/).

Detailed reference viewed: 136 (15 UL)
See detailThe Helpers of Anne Frank - Recontextualising the Rescue of Dutch Jews
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Scientific Conference (2020, November 24)

This paper sets out to recontextualise the memory of rescue as it pertains to Dutch Jewry during the Holocaust, by focusing on the helpers of Anne Frank and the other Jews in hiding in the Secret Annex ... [more ▼]

This paper sets out to recontextualise the memory of rescue as it pertains to Dutch Jewry during the Holocaust, by focusing on the helpers of Anne Frank and the other Jews in hiding in the Secret Annex. Much in the same way as perceptions of Jews in hiding have been decisively shaped by the story of Anne Frank, not only in the Dutch public imagination but arguably globally, so too the image of help, at least in the Western European and Anglosaxon world, has been considerably shaped by the story of two of the five helpers, Miep and Jan Gies, even if the support they provided to the onderduikers in the Secret Annex could ultimately not prevent discovery. The question of help, as well as the ultimate betrayal, of the onderduikers are linked to the broader question of the role of the Dutch population during the Holocaust. Within that context the Anne Frank story can and has indeed been used to provide both a stereotypical image of Gentile betrayal as well as an idealized and, arguably, romanticized image of Gentile help. In this paper I will trace the ways in which the image of help and rescue of Dutch Jews was shaped by the story of, especially, Miep Gies and analyse the ways in which her story resonated in the Netherlands as well as abroad. Important moments in this regard were the recognition of Miep Gies and the other helpers as Righteous Among the Nations in 1972, and the global publication of Miep Gies’ memoirs in 1987. I will frame this analysis within the broader historical context of 1) help provided to Jews in hiding in the Netherlands and the question of how representative the ‘helpers of Anne Frank’ were, and 2) the extent to which a focus on a few key individuals obscures the more complex reality of how rescue functioned in the first place. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 56 (1 UL)
See detailKeynote lecture: The Hybrid Historian - Historical Research in the Digital Age
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Presentation (2020, September 25)

In the past decade, we have witnessed a shift from technological determinism to more attention to the methodological and epistemological changes in historical research which the digital turn has brought ... [more ▼]

In the past decade, we have witnessed a shift from technological determinism to more attention to the methodological and epistemological changes in historical research which the digital turn has brought about. This talk will focus on how the practice of doing history has changed in the digital age against the background of broader historical developments in the so-called digital humanities. I will argue that, in many ways, hybridity, seen at its most basic level as the integration of 'traditional' and 'digital' approaches, is the new normal for most historians. However, when more broadly conceptualised as the integration of newly emerging tools, technologies, materials, and/or practices in historical research, it also becomes clear that hybridity has a long and often unacknowledged history that predates the advent of computers – analog and digital. Against this backdrop, the first part of my talk traces this unacknowledged history and the debates accompanying the (wo)man-machine encounter in the historical research process more generally. As I will argue, this encounter needs to be qualified according to its most elementary phases (data & information gathering, processing, analysis, and dissemination). Crucially, the speed, enthusiasm, and rate of the uptake of new technologies differs, and has always differed, significantly across these phases. In the second half of the talk, I will then offer a concrete example of these insights by using my research on the diaries of Anne Frank as a case study and will demonstrate the hybrid nature of today's historical research process, both as a reality and potentiality. Exploring the longue durée of the impact of new technologies on the practice of history is not to deny the specificity of the current moment but helps us to see how 'digital' has now come to affect the entire historical profession in ways unseen before. Indeed, technology has become inescapable, even if many historians refuse to acknowledge the fact and remain reluctant to embrace it. Yet, we can only truly ground our current 'digital' practices, and learn from past experiences and expertise, by contextualising and qualifying what is new and what is not. The real challenge for our profession now is to take a mental leap forward and be consciously hybrid, to acknowledge that 'digital' is not merely complementary but integral to the practice of doing history, and purposely reflect its implications. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 75 (2 UL)
See detailHet Dagboek van Anne Frank en andere Joodse Egodocumenten
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Conference given outside the academic context (2020)

Detailed reference viewed: 37 (2 UL)
See detailThe Promise and Peril of Digital Research in Yiddish: An Interview with Gerben Zaagsma
Hoffenberg, Elena; Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Diverse speeches and writings (2020)

It seemed fitting to break away from a conference bringing together American and European scholars and researchers working on digital humanities for an old-fashioned face-to-face conversation about ... [more ▼]

It seemed fitting to break away from a conference bringing together American and European scholars and researchers working on digital humanities for an old-fashioned face-to-face conversation about Yiddish. During a conference on Digital Hermeneutics at the German Heritage Institute in Washington, DC, I sat down to talk with Gerben Zaagsma, who is an assistant professor at the Centre for Contemporary and Digital History at the University of Luxembourg. In addition to being the author of the book Jewish Volunteers, the International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War (2017), Zaagsma is the curator of the invaluable online collection of links to all things Yiddish, yiddish-sources.com. In this interview, he talks about his chance encounter with Yiddish that started him on the path to studying klezmer music and the Spanish Civil War. While researching a book on an event with global and long-lasting reverberations, he encountered the potency and the frustrations of digital research. Finally, Zaagsma looks to the future of digital studies and Yiddish. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 63 (5 UL)
See detailThe Digital Archive and the Politics of Digitisation
Zaagsma, Gerben UL

Presentation (2020, February 13)

This paper deals with a question that is becoming increasingly important for historians who work with digitised cultural heritage: what are the politics of digitisation and what are its implications for ... [more ▼]

This paper deals with a question that is becoming increasingly important for historians who work with digitised cultural heritage: what are the politics of digitisation and what are its implications for historical research? Is the often-lauded democratising potential of digitisation also offset by risks, inherent in selection processes that might privilege the digitisation of heritage corresponding to existing national master narratives, the availability of funding and/or the priorities set by cultural policies and certain research agendas? How does transnational heritage fit into this picture when most digitisation projects are, in one way or another, nationally framed? What biases can digital archives introduce in our work and how does that differ from issues of bias and selection in the ‘paper’ archive? In discussing these questions, I will provide a couple of examples before emphasising the importance of more transparency in this regard and the need for guidelines about how digital archives are constituted. A key point to highlight is that professional historians can and should be more open to learn from the experience of digital archivists and librarians who are at the forefront of the digital turn in heritage work. [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 147 (2 UL)
See detailRoundtable - Combating anti-Semitism in contemporary Europe
Zaagsma, Gerben UL; Santer, Georges; Feldman, David et al

Diverse speeches and writings (2020)

Roundtable Combating anti-Semitism in contemporary Europe What is the state of anti-Semitism in Europe, and Luxembourg, today? How can it be situated within the broader context of rising hate speech and ... [more ▼]

Roundtable Combating anti-Semitism in contemporary Europe What is the state of anti-Semitism in Europe, and Luxembourg, today? How can it be situated within the broader context of rising hate speech and crime, online and offline? What methods are being proposed to combat it? How does it relate to politics and the broader memory battles that are being fought in Europe today? These will be the themes addressed during a round table discussion with the following participants: - Dr. Gerben Zaagsma (moderator, C²DH) - Georges Santer (Ambassador, Chair of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance/IHRA) - Prof. David Feldman (Director, Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London) - François Moyse (Chair, European Association for the Preservation and Promotion of Jewish Culture and Heritage) [less ▲]

Detailed reference viewed: 69 (2 UL)