Meet the winners of the Europeana Research Grants Programme 2018
Yesterday, at the House of European History in Brussels we were thrilled to have Professor Lorna Hughes, Chair of the Europeana Research Advisory Board, present the recipients of the 2018 Europeana Research Grants with their awards. Read on to find out about the projects and to hear what a Europeana grant might mean for early-career scholars interested in the digital humanities.
The grants winners
For this year’s Research Grants Programme, Europeana’s third annual call, we invited early-career scholars to apply with project proposals connected to the theme of The First World War. We received high-quality responses from all over Europe and are delighted to announce the winners: Dr Berber Hagedoorn, Dr Saverio Vita and Dr Elizabeth Benjamin.
The winning proposals
Dr Berber Hagedoorn, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
Europeana 1914-1918: AV Storytelling Data in a European Comparative Perspective.
This project uses data science and qualitative analysis to understand and map out how the Europeana 1914-1918 Collection is used for creative storytelling practices, to share and contextualise audiovisual content and to engage people. In particular, sentiment analysis and topic modelling (with annotated descriptions) will provide new understandings of how creators share and contextualise content for successful user engagement, categorising important topics and creative narrative strategies. Surveys to professional storytellers across Europe will help to uncover what motivates the (re)use of Europeana 1914-1918 Collection material for creative storytelling purposes; how makers share and contextualise content to achieve successful user engagement; and how makers perceive the platform as an effective tool for storytelling. Co-creative lab sessions will be organised to understand how 40-60 (digital) humanities scholars use Europeana 1914-1918 to interact with and reuse content, focusing on storytelling (since academics are storytellers too), search and research, measuring engagement through eye-tracking, participant observation and post-task questionnaires.
We asked Dr Hagedoorn about her project and what the Europeana research grant means to her:
“My work aims to help understand motivations for online platform use in today’s attention economy, and how media professionals share and contextualise content for creative storytelling practices and successful user engagement. The study will provide further insight into how Europeana works as a creative storytelling tool. I will be blogging about my research activities here.
As a specialist working with audiovisual sources, cultural memory and digital heritage, the grant is a very exciting opportunity to continue my digital humanities research with Europeana, on a European comparative scale. Furthermore, as an early career scholar, it allows me to take an important step in my career with research of high and broad impact.
I believe that in today's 'post-truth', overloaded information landscape, it is vital that we create more insight and transparency into the processes of selection, bias and meaning-making around audiovisual media. It is important to support scholars carrying out research that critically addresses the collection, selection and (re-)use of data. Datafication and the data-driven society is an innovative and quickly evolving field of study, and funding awards for research projects in the digital humanities help humanities scholars to be a part of this innovation.”
Dr Saverio Vita, University of Bologna, Italy
Upgrading History. Diaries from the War Front.
The project focuses on diaries of European soldiers in the Europeana 1914-1918 Collection, which include a good amount of soldiers’ writings (especially in Italian, French and English), as well as a collection of letters from the trenches by Isaac Rosenberg. Rosenberg’s letters and at least eight diaries in Italian and French will be processed.
The materials will be arranged on the StoryMap platform, highlighting the different itineraries travelled by a single soldier. Each itinerary will begin with an introduction (a historical and linguistic comment, both in Italian and English) and will be enriched by other media from the Europeana Collections platform, as well as the text of the diary itself. The itineraries will be displayable all at once, or one at a time, to highlight the possible overlapping of paths and to reveal the differences.
Dr Vita commented: “Considering how the First World War affected both great History and private lives, the aim of the project is to share research that focuses on the diaries of European soldiers in order to make them accessible to both the academic and the general public.
Receiving this grant means a lot to me. Professionally, it is an honour to be chosen by such a prestigious foundation. It provides a real chance to actively engage the preservation of our memory during a time when Europe needs to recognise itself as a solid community. Many people have walked our streets, and will continue to do so: both soldiers and ordinary people.
Receiving funds for research in digital humanities is essential as humanistic research has similar needs to those of applied sciences. Researchers in digital humanities need updated technology to allow us to disseminate humanistic knowledge to widespread networks and to engage more effectively within our society.”
Dr Elizabeth Benjamin, Coventry University, the UK
Return to Sender: Mapping Memory Journeys in the Europeana 1914-1918 Postcard Archive.
This project proposes an original, dynamic visualisation of the postcards in the Europeana 1914-1918 Collection. The postcards’ metadata will be used to create an interactive website plotting their transnational movement and exploring the resulting narratives of war and the memory thereof.
Through tracking the details of the postcards’ content and journeys through and beyond the duration and locations of conflict, as well as inviting contemporary annotations and new narratives, the project aims to uncover new findings on the effects of war on movement, communication, and the creation of cultural heritage.
In Dr Benjamin’s words: “Revealing the narratives of postcards which embody movement allow us to examine the effects of the war on international travel. This includes the sociocultural impact of restrictions on movement and the enforced movement of armed forces and those fleeing conflict.
Freedom of movement is an important part of European culture, particularly today with the rise of populism and the risk of disunity. We will be looking at a time when movement was restricted or enforced, to understand our shared histories and emphasise the need for international collaboration. We appreciate the support of interdisciplinary projects such as ours, which bring together different approaches to highlight the relevance of archives for contemporary society.
It is important to support the development of new digital tools for looking at society. In particular, funding awards such as the Europeana Research Grants, which promote tools that are open, accessible and usable within and beyond academic research. By using new technologies we are able to gain new perspectives on important issues, which in turn embeds research within society.”
Follow Europeana Research for updates
Thank you to everyone who submitted a proposal for this year's Research Grants Programme. The three funded projects will start in January 2019. Follow @EurResearch on Twitter and keep an eye on our Europeana Research page for updates on these projects and for future funding opportunities.