European digital humanities research experts gather in Swansea

Leading figures in digital research in the humanities from across Europe are gathering in Swansea from 1-3 September to share the latest developments in this expanding field, including how to preserve and archive digital media, and how to use new tools for analysing data.

The event is an official meeting of NISE (National movements and Intermediary Structures in Europe).  NISE is a network of experts who study national movements, gathering records and information on the subject, and developing digital tools to make it easier for researchers in different countries to have access to material that would otherwise be available only by visiting archives. 

Organised by NISE in conjunction with the University of Antwerp and the European Institute for Identities at Swansea University, the event is entitled “Digital Infrastructures for Digital Humanities”.

It will bring together eminent historians, archivists and other experts from countries including Belgium, Ireland and Austria, as well as from the British Library and National Library of Wales.

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400 x 254While the focus of the event is mainly on the humanities, there will also be sessions from Swansea experts in life sciences, wellbeing, enterprise and innovation, and computing.  

This reflects the way in which digital technologies are breaking through established boundaries between subjects; indeed, Swansea researchers are already working together on collaborative projects, spanning areas such as languages and computer science for example.

Picture:  Injured First World War soldiers: one of the conference sessions looks at ways of sharing archive material on this period.  Photograph courtesy of Richard Burton Archives

Subjects to be covered include:

•    The NISE database, a digital environment for collecting data and sharing information and research on national movements across Europe.

•    IMinds, a digital research and entrepreneurship hub involving 800 researchers at 5 Flemish universities in Belgium, covering areas such as media, healthcare, mobility, green technology

•    How the Flemish Institute for Archiving is dealing with digital material including photographs and films

•    The Collaborative European Digital Infrastructure, which collates material on medieval and First World War history

•    Digital material for use in Holocaust research  

•    Nodegoat  - a tool developed by Dutch experts which allows scholars to build and analyse datasets

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Picture:  The challenges of archiving film and tape, as well as paper, will be discussed at the conference

The event also includes three public lectures, which are open to all.  They take place on Thursday 3 September between 1.30 and 5.30.  The venue for these lectures is the Council Chamber, Singleton Abbey, Swansea University SA2 8PP

•    Nations and Nationalism from the Margins:  Maarten van Ginderachter, University of Antwerp.  

•    The State of Nationalism: Eric Taylor Woods, University of East London

•    Minority Map and Timeline of Europe; Raul Carstocea, European Centre for Minority Issues

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Picture:  a Catalan independence march: NISE focuses on national movements across Europe

Professor Martin Stringer, Pro Vice Chancellor at Swansea University, said:

“As Swansea University seeks to expand its knowledge of, and research into, digitisation and digital humanities, it is great to welcome such eminent scholars and practitioners within this field to NISE’s pan-European conference at Swansea”.

Professor Lorna Hughes, Chair in Digital Humanities, University of London School of Advanced Study, who will be giving the keynote address, said:

“It is an honour to address the NISE gathering on digitisation. They undertake excellent work across Europe, and I know that Swansea University is striving to become a global beacon for research into digital humanities and digital infrastructures”

Professor Luc Boeva, General Co-ordinator of NISE, who is based in Antwerp, Flanders, said:

“NISE is delighted to be discussing Digital Humanities and Digital Infrastructures at Swansea University, as it is a prestigious European educational establishment known for its cutting-edge research.”

400 x 300‌Digital Swansea - existing Swansea University work

Swansea University researchers are already working on a wide array of digital research projects across campus. 

The University’s Centre on Digital Arts and Humanities (CODAH) is a focus for much of this activity, though the projects – in keeping with the interdisciplinary emphasis at Swansea – encompass a wide range of subjects.

Examples from the CODAH site include:

  • www.welshcopper.org.uk  Professor Huw Bowen (History & Classics) is working with Professor Matt Jones (FIT Lab, Computer Science) on new modes of heritage site visitor interaction at Swansea’s World Heritage site
  • www.egypt.swansea.ac.uk – Dr Rita Borgo (Computer Science) and Dr Kasia Szpakowska (History & Classics) are working with the curators of the Egypt Centre on 3D scanning and printing of ancient artefacts
  • “What are the Odds?” – Dr Matt Wall and Dr Rory Costello (Political and Cultural Studies) and Dr Stephen Lindsay (Computer Science) are extracting and analysing data from political gambling sites
  • http://www.fitlab.eu – Professor Matt Jones leads the Future Interaction Technology lab, recently awarded a major EPSRC grant for the Cherish project, which will look at how digital innovation can bring benefits in healthcare, safety and security, and for people with few resources

Swansea University is also a leader in the use of digital tools in medical research, for example through its e-health and informatics work, which is based at the new Data Science Centre.

The new Bay Campus will be home to a Computational Foundry, which will be a centre for digital innovation.