gerben zaagsma's blog

Opening remarks: From Tablet to Tablet – workshop Jewish Studies & Digital Humanities, Hamburg, 4-6 September 2017

*** This is the written version of opening remarks I gave at From Tablet to Tablet, a workshop on Jewish Studies and Digital Humanities supported by the Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe in co-operation with the Institute for the History of the German Jews that took place in Hamburg between 4-6 September 2017. Several introductiory blog posts and discussions with participants where posted on the Yerusha blog

My warmfelt thanks to Sinem Adar for comments on an earlier version. I have drawn in some parts upon an earlier article On Digital History published in 2013 as part of a thematic issue of the BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review on digital history.

These remarks are intended as a discussion piece so feedback and comments are most welcome!

 

Jewish Volunteers, the International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War

My new book Jewish Volunteers, the International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War is out now with Bloomsbury Academic.

The book's introduction can be downloaded for free here, and a preview is available here. More information can be found here and on the Bloomsbury Academic website.

Bloomsbury has provided a temporary 35% discount when ordering through their website, using the code JVIBSCW35.

 

 

About the book: 

Jewish Volunteers, the International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War discusses the participation of volunteers of Jewish descent in the International Brigades during the Spanish Civil War, focusing particularly on the establishment of the Naftali Botwin Company, a Jewish military unit that was created in the Polish Dombrowski Brigade. 

Book Introduction: From ‘Chosen Fighters of the Jewish People’ to Jewish Resistance Fighters

The introduction to my forthcoming book, Jewish volunteers , the International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War can now be downloaded through the link below.

The book will be published on 6 April. More information can be found here and on the Bloomsbury Academic website

Edit 14 March: Bloomsbury has provided a temporary 35% discount when ordering through their website, using the code JVIBSCW35.

Digital history and the hidden archive

Two months ago an important conference took place at the European University Institute in Florence on Public History and the Media. Exploring a variety of forms of public history, the second day was devoted to the topic of ‘digital public history’. While the links between the two fields are fairly obvious they are of course not the same. As one participant put it: “Digital History is not the same as Public History *but* Public History needs Digital History”. 

Various projects that were presented or referenced during this day explored ways in which the public can be engaged in, contribute to, and co-author history. Thus the Philadelphia Public History Truck, “a mobile museum project which partners with Philly neighborhood grassroots organizations to explore local history”, enables new voices and audiences to be heard and engage in (local) history. The Europeana 1914-1918 provides an excellent example of enaging the public to create a new user-generated online archive/museum. Digtal history functions in an enabling way here: new voices/audiences and user-generated materials empower ‘the public’ in various ways. But clearly these are also new forms of creating history. 

New article out in L'histoire contemporaine à l'ère numérique/ Contemporary History in the Digital Age

A new book entitled L'histoire contemporaine à l'ère numérique/ Contemporary History in the Digital Age was published with Peter Lang recently. It contains articles from the Digital Humanities Luxembourg (DHLU) 2009 and 2012 conferences (see also this call for papers for the upcoming december 2013 conference on the theme of Reading historical sources in the digital age).

 

It’s the context stupid

On July 9, 2013, a conference took place in the Jewish Museum in Berlin entitled Public History of the Holocaust - Historical Research in the Digital Age. One of the issues brought up in the closing forum discussion was the loss of context in working with online digital archives and/or libraries, a point made by Stefanie Schüler-Springorum who used the example of doing newspapers research to illustrate it. Having used this example often to illustrate the methodological challenges of doing history in the digital age, I was very happy to hear it being addressed in the forum. For loss of context, or loss of awareness of context, when using and working with digital resources is a key issue that is in dire need of more discussion by historians, whether they describe themselves as digital or not. 

Doing history in the digital age: history as a hybrid practice

In reading up on various topics to prepare my lectures for a digital history course I am currently teaching I am struck by the extent to which a dichotomy is created between supposedly new ‚digital’ ways of doing history versus traditional, or if you will analog, historical practices. Whether the focus is on data as a new type of source, digital methods to analyze it, new forms of academic publishing or calls to change our narrative way of writing in order to better integrate and explicate our methodology, the suggestion is invariably that we face a fundamental break with past practices.

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