New Digital Humanities journal

As part of our little series of resources in digital history, I wanted to make you aware of a new journal: Digital Humanities in the BeNeLux, which is open access here. The first issue has an interesting introduction on “Integrating Digital Humanities”, but many of the examples are obviously not in our area of expertise. Nevertheless, the introduction by Julie Birkholz and Gerben Zaagsma, is useful in outlining important features of the field that are not necessarily obvious to anyone not engaged directly with these questions:

“Much ink has been spent, and occasionally spilled, trying to define the Digital Humanities and its place among the academic disciplines. Yet whether it is seen as a field of its own, a sub- or inter-discipline, or a set of practices, most proponents agree on some basic characteristics, with interdisciplinarity probably topping the list. As early as two decades ago, Willard McCarty was among the first to assert that DH constituted an interdiscipline, due to its “common ground of method [which] makes it possible to teach applied computing to a class of humanists from widely varying disciplines” (McCarty 1999). At the same time, DH challenges existing and ingrained research practices (perhaps sometimes more imagined than real), according to which humanities research questions must always derive from domain knowledge, by proposing new data- and method-driven approaches to research in the humanities. [my emphasis]

In practice, Digital Humanities projects typically involve, and bring together, a variety of practitioners from different backgrounds: academics from various fields and disciplines, librarians, archivists and museum experts. [my emphasis] All of this could easily be construed as providing evidence of the existence of some sort of shared field; yet the influence of the digital on the various phases of our research practice (whether information gathering, processing, analysis and dissemination) comes in many forms: sometimes it is obvious, sometimes it is tacit and implicit, and sometimes aspirational. …”

For organizational history, this raises a number of questions, for example, what new data- and method-driven approaches could be relevant for us, and how we could collaborate more with organizational archivists going forward. So far these debates are very much in their infancy in our field, but are likely to become more important in the years to come.