Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Public History International

This post is an extended version of "Internationalizing Public History. In: Public History Weekly 2 (2014) 34, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2014-2647" (German and French translations are also available).
Public History Weekly   BlogJournal for History and Civics EducationPublic History today is a worldwide discipline which considers the presence of the past -and the construction of history- outside academic settings. The practice of History has always been “public” in a way but individual and collective memories are nowadays invading the public sphere. Conflicting perceptions of the past and the inability to forget are asking for professional mediation because the past is not becoming history anymore. Public Historians answer the increasing demand for history worldwide and interpret the past with and for the public. Awareness of their global role fosters the internationalizing process of PH.
• Everybody’s interpreting its own past.
During the last thirty years, not only in Anglo-Saxon countries, historians engaged into public discussions about the past. Especially public historians were interested in collecting and interpreting memories using Oral History and digital technologies. Through social media and the web, conflicting collective memories of genocidal pasts, dictatorships, violent civil wars, have been displayed for a better public understanding in virtual and physical museums. Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and remembrance portals like the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, interacted with local communities using public historians to recover forgotten and uncomfortable civil memories.
Looking at the presence of the past in the American society, David Thelen and Roy Rosenzweig noted something that can be extended to other countries (Australia and Canada studies the characteristics of national pasts in popular memories): even before the start of a participatory web 2.0 allowing individuals and communities to crowd-source their own vision of history, nonacademic public's were eager to re-memorize their family and local history. People also knew about history visiting memory and battlefield parks, true “lieux de Mémoire, and wandering in thematic museums and exhibitions with their popular narratives about nearby pasts.
Professional public historians, especially within the digital realm, are confronted with everybody’s public pasts. Historical expertise is needed worldwide for acquiring deeper contextualized understandings of history. Working within communities and for the public, public historians are the answer to such an universal quest for the past. Their task is to communicate history publically.
• Self-conscious or institutionalized ? Different paths to Public History.
If we want to understand to what extend the discipline is existing internationally, we have to consider different settings. International Public History aims at understanding divergent historical paths to the discipline with specific professional skills. Forty years after its institutionalization as a university discipline in California, public history contaminated new countries. So what makes history public and public history growingly self-conscious today?
rede-brasileiraThis September in Brazil, during the 2nd Simpósio Internacional de História Pública, on Perspectivas da História Pública no Brasil, the Rede Brasileira de História Pública showcased a variety of multi-racial, social, political and local public history practices. Brazilian historians fostered workshops and participative media ateliers analyzing different facets of Brazilian PH as described in an introductory volume to the discipline (2011). But why the Rede, a federal decentralized network of historians belonging to different universities, used the term “international” for a conference about Brazilian public history? Universal practices and theoretical reflections on the impact of digital history and on the presence of oral history in Brazil populated roundtables and officinas (10-12 Sept.2014, Niterói, Rio de Janeiro) together with the participation of few international scholars.
Pioneer American oral historian Linda Shopes focused on the close integration between oral and public history. She discussed the concept of “shared authority” (Max Frisch) inaugurated by Raphael Samuel during the Seventies in Oxford. Samuel resurrectionism delivered to the miners their scattered memories sharing like Socrates, his own professional authority.2nd Conference Public History Brazil In Belgium and the Netherlands were the first international public history conference has been organized in October 2014 at the University of Amsterdam together with the NIOD, public history programs are being created within universities. Like with the International Committee for the Historical Sciences hosting PH panels in China in 2015, in Italy and in Germany, academic historical associations added public history panels to their conferences (Cantieri di Storia Sissco 201350 Deutscher Historikertag 2014).
In Greece, Public History and the role of the past in the present are openly discussed because of the dramatic financial crisis which brought new consensus to neo-Nazi parties. So, for Greek historians, making history in public is also a civil duty necessary to maintain the memory of the civil war, the resistance and the colonel dictatorship. Historians are challenging the present misuses of the past in Greece and they looked at how much the past is active in the present during a Greek Public History conference in Volos in August 2013, (some papers have been recently published in the Italian journal Ricerche Storiche). But the same pattern is also evident in Brazil where the violent history of the military dictatorship is showcased in museums and exhibitions; or in Sri Lanka, where the Colomboscope 2014 on “making history”, a national history festival remembered Herstories, women oral interviews telling about the horrors of a thirty years civil war.Sri_Lanka_herstories
When Greek neo-Nazis re-interpreted the national past to support their political claims, public historians questioned the political usefulness of history in the agora. Academic Historians answered this challenge publishing books, organizing conferences, commenting in the media the Greek civil war, the resistance and the colonel dictatorship and addressing local communities and their individual and collective memories.
• Glocal Public History meant consciousness of the past surrounding us.
Ricerche storiche   A. XLIV  N. 1  gennaio aprile 2014
Different ideas about what history is about socially developed differently and following different patterns globally. Nevertheless, Public History remains often a discipline without the name. Historians entering the public arena and creating narratives through the media weren’t always aware of the existence of a sub-field or a discipline called Public History. Academic historians have the tendency to call public history what is, de facto, a “public use of history”, engaging the discipline, its skills and practices with contemporary debates about the past in the polis. Only from few years now, and shifted by the digital turn in history which had a huge impact on Public History practices, new forms of awareness and of an overwhelming necessity of the field arose. This phenomena happened globally nonetheless the universal ambiguities and contradictions about a common professional definition of the field. The internationalization process is happening worldwide following such a multi-faceted process of globalization. It derives also from the crisis of academic history in our post-colonial societies. Emblematic of this process was the creation of the International Federation for Public History. A NCPH international Public History Task Force transformed in 2010 into an internal commission of the Comité International des Sciences Historiques. Today, the IFPH is mandated to create international linkages between public historians and promote the development of our growing worldwide network of practitioners and foster national public history programs and associations.
• A decentralized glocal history asking for a global public role?
Answering to this question qualifies glocally and internationally the role of public historians. Our world is now glocal, Europe have lost his central role in defining a universal idea of the past through its Eurocentric narrative, its colonial and post-colonial history. Subaltern studies theorized what was already evident publically: local pasts everywhere emerged forming multi-centered globalized pasts. This decentralization of history fostered the field worldwide, and favored the birth of what could be called glocal public history discipline.
Public History meant often working on the past with local communities and, in general, for their better understanding of their local-global memories. The process in itself is all about International Public History interpreted globally the same way: building oral interviews, remembering individual and collective memories, collecting and preserving sources, creating museums and exhibitions, confronting with difficult pasts and their interpretation. The usefulness of international public history relies on the universality of these glocal practices.
• Giorgos Antoniou (ed.): History and the Public Sphere in Contemporary Greece in "Ricerche Storiche", XLIV/1, January-April 2014.
• Silke Arnold-de Simine: Mediating memory in the museum: trauma, empathy, nostalgia., Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.
• Paul Ashton and Paula Hamilton: History At The Crossroad: Australians and The Past., Ultimo: Halstead Press, 2010
• Dipesh Chakrabarty: Provincializing Europe: postcolonial thought and historical difference., Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.
• Margaret Conrad, Jocelyn Létourneau and David Northrup: Canadians and their Pasts: An Exploration in Historical Consciousness, in The Public Historian, vol.31, n.1, February 2009, pp.15-34.
• Michael Frisch: A Shared Authority: Essays On The Craft And Meaning Of Oral And Public History., Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990.
• Paula Hamilton and Linda Shopes (eds.): Oral History And Public Memories., Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008.
• François Hartog and Jacques Revel: Les usages politiques du passé., Paris : Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales, 2001
• Denise D. Meringolo: Museums, monuments, and national parks : toward a new genealogy of public history., Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, 2012.
• Wolfgang Muchitsch: Does war belong in museums? The representation of violence in exhibitions., Bielefeld: Transcript, 2013.
• Serge Noiret: “La “Public History”, una Disciplina Fantasma?” in Public History. Pratiche nazionali e Identità Globale., in "Memoria e Ricerca", n.37, May-August 2011, pp.10-35.
• Serge Noiret: “Digital History 2.0”, in Frédéric Clavert and Serge Noiret (eds.): Contemporary History in the Digital Age, Bruxelles: Peter Lang, 2013, pp.155-190.
• Juniele Rabêlo de Almeida and Marta Gouveia de Oliveira Rovai (eds.) Introdução à história pública. São Paulo: Letra e Voz, 2011
• Roy Rosenzweig and David Thelen. The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life. Columbia University Press, 1998
• Raphael Samuel: Past and present in contemporary culture., London: Verso, 1994.
• Robert Weyeneth: “Writing Locally, Thinking Globally”, in "Public History News", vol.33, n.1, December 2012, p.8.
• Guy Zelis (ed.): L'historien dans l'espace public: l'histoire face à la mémoire, à la justice et au politique., Loverval: Labor, 2005.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Storia Digitale o Storia con il Digitale ? E' lecito porre la domanda ?

La storia digitale ha rimodellato la documentazione dello storico e gli strumenti usati per accedervi, immagazzinarla e trattarla senza tuttavia che l’uso critico di questi strumenti -che non sono asettici nel rapporto tra lo storico e le fonti digitali-, fossero questionate a dovere nell’università italiana.
A livello internazionale invece, il terremoto del digital turn ha suscitato molti interrogativi nella professione confrontata globalmente con le incertezze sul futuro di una storiografia con il digitale, tra inquietudine e rigetto. La storia digitale richiede di riscrivere e reinterpretare i metodi professionali e di dominare le nuove pratiche nel digitale.[1] I cambiamenti delle pratiche professionali degli storici sono tali che ci dobbiamo interrogare su quali sia l’impatto di quella storia digitale sulle forme tradizionali di narrazione del passato e sui tempi della storia.[2] Ci possiamo chiedere se, alla luce della diffusione pubblica delle tecnologie, non dobbiamo rivedere in profondità il rapporto stesso che intratteniamo con il passato, la memoria e la storia nel presente.[3]
 Le pratiche degli storici impegnati a dominare -e anche forgiare- la tecnologia, avrebbero avuto come effetto di creare dei ghetti e di impaurire la professione tutta confrontata con il digital turn. Esistono difficoltà obiettive nel gestire le tecnologie digitali sempre più diffuse nel pubblico e usate -spesso egregiamente- all’infuori della professione.[4] Les incertitudes d'une mutation scriveva Rolando Minuti nel 2002,[5] Promises and perils of Digital History, ammonivano Daniel J.Cohen e Roy Rosenzweig nel loro manuale di digital history pubblicato nel 2006,[6] mentre ancora nel 2013, il catalano Anaclet Pons scrive un libro sulla storia digitale intitolandolo El desorden digital[7] in riferimento alla babele di una documentazione digitale difficile da dominare come lo aveva descritto Borges.[8] Questi studiosi interpretano il digital turn e la digital history partendo da una riflessione sui cambiamenti del mestiere di storico tradizionale. L’approccio non è né ottimista né pessimista, ma è quello di chi vuole capire le mutazioni tecnologiche alla luce di un positivismo critico –Cohen e Rosenzweig parlano di “tecno-realismo”-[9] non sottomesso alla tecnologia stessa, ma certamente interessato a essa. Toni Weller nel suo libro “History in the Digital Age”,[10] insegna che non tutti gli storici che utilizzano le risorse digitali e il computer sono “storici digitali”. Egli evidenzia l’impatto morbido della rivoluzione tecnologica applicata alle pratiche preesistenti degli storici e in continuità con le loro tradizioni professionali.[11] In sintonia con queste deduzioni di Weller, i risultati di un importante inchiesta Americana sulle pratiche della storiografia con il digitale sottolineano che “the underlying research methods of many historians remain fairly recognizable even with the introduction of new tools and technologies, but the day to day research practices of all historians have changed fundamentally”.[12]
THATCamp Paris 2010
Sempre dello stesso parere, la versione italiana del manifesto dell’Umanistica digitale nei suoi tre primi punti, recita che “la svolta digitale della società esplora e modifica le condizioni di produzione e di diffusione dei saperi” e che “le Digital Humanities riguardano l’insieme delle Scienze umane e sociali, delle Arti e delle Lettere, […] [e] non fanno tabula rasa del passato. Si appoggiano, al contrario, sull’insieme dei paradigmi, dei saperi e delle conoscenze proprie di queste discipline, mobilitando gli strumenti e le prospettive peculiari del digitale; le Digital Humanities designano una “interdisciplina” che include metodi, dispositivi e prospettive euristiche legate al digitale nel campo delle Scienze umane e sociali[13] Questo Manifesto stilato durante THATcamp Parigi (The Humanities and Technology Camp, 2010) fu ridiscusso un anno dopo durante THATcamp Firenze (2011),[14] quando umanisti digitali italiani e francesi si confrontarono in un processo di internazionalizzazione della disciplina[15].

Comunque si pensi, riflettere sull’impatto transdisciplinare delle nuove pratiche che costituiscono le fondamenta della transdisciplina chiamata Umanistica Digitale (Digital Humanities) con le tradizioni epistemologiche e filologiche della storia è così diventato essenziale. E di fatti, la "cultura storica digitale" è parte di una più vasta "cultura digitale" che permea la nostra società attraverso la rete internet e sotto varie forme comunicative. Il concetto sociologico di cultura digitale proviene dall’opera di Manuel Castells[16] e anche dai lavori di Willard McCarty all’UCL[17] mentre in Italia, Tito Orlandi,[18] ha teorizzato addirittura la nascita di una neonata koinè, con un nuovo statuto disciplinare basato sull'elaborazione metodologica e scientifica del precedente concetto  d’informatica umanistica che incontra la rete internet e la comunicazione via web.[19]

Vanno così valorizzate le peculiarità disciplinari dello storico digitale: la ricerca di fonti differenti e le diverse trame narrative del web. Se è vero che l’umanistica digitale offre metodologie e pratiche comuni alle scienze che compongono l’area umanistica,[20] è vero anche che queste pratiche e questi concetti sono forse maggiormente elaborati a livello di singole discipline.[21]  Questo avviene riguardo alle diverse tradizioni scientifiche che ritrovano poi nella “république du virtuel”, un universalismo che supera le divisioni tra scienze umanistiche per forgiare nuove pratiche transdisciplinari e strumenti e linguaggi usati in tutte le discipline umanistiche. (Per esempio si usano protocolli aperti e compatibili nei siti della rete come gli standards di marcatura dei documenti,[22] i meta-dati descrittivi come il Dublin Core Project,[23] o i programmi e prodotti open sources[24] come Zotero[25] che favoriscono progetti collaborativi. Le banche dati, le biblioteche digitali e gli open archives sono ora compatibili tra di loro[26] attraverso un’interoperabilità dei loro dati, i cosiddetti linked open data dell’OAI-PMH (Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting o, in italiano il “Protocollo per il raccoglimento dei metadati dell'Open Archive Initiative”). [27])
Quasi tutte le problematiche tradizionali del mestiere di storico, dalla delimitazione di un’ipotesi di ricerca alla scoperta, all’accesso e alla gestione dei documenti e delle fonti, fino al conseguimento di un impianto narrativo e, soprattutto, alla comunicazione della storia e dei risultati della ricerca, e, infine all’insegnamento della storia, passano oramai in parte o in toto, attraverso lo schermo del computer: queste pratiche si annidano all’interno della ragnatela. La storia digitale si potrebbe così definire come “tutto il complesso universo di produzioni e scambi sociali aventi come oggetto la conoscenza storica, trasferito e/o direttamente generato e sperimentato in ambienti digitali (ricerca, organizzazione, relazioni, diffusione, uso pubblico e privato, fonti, libri, didattica, performance e via dicendo).”[28]
Invece, se si pensa al calcolo statistico, alla geo-localizzazione, alla gestione dei big data, enorme quantità di dati/fonti digitali disponibili come fonti che permettono pratiche trasversali di text-mining al loro interno,[29] -Peter Haber parlava addiritura di processo di “datificazione”-,[30] ai programmi che interrogano le immagini direttamente sui loro pixel, etc., la storia digitale, all’interno della transdiciplina dei digital humanities, non è soltanto fatta dell’utilizzo di nuovi strumenti digitali che facilitano vecchie pratiche. Si tratta anche dello sviluppo di un rapporto stretto con le tecnologie suscettibili di modificare i parametri stessi della ricerca. Lo storico è in grado di porre nuove questioni epistemologiche nell’analisi del passato dopo l’avvento del digitale. Tuttavia, solo una minoranza di storici digitali domina gli strumenti che rispondono a nuovi interrogativi scientifici. Meno ancora essi creano programmi originali che permettono nuove analisi e nuove forme d’interazione con le fonti e il loro trattamento in funzione d’ipotesi di ricerca facilitate dall’analisi computazionale.[31]
Lo storico oggi in Italia come altrove, [32] è storico con il digitale, molto meno storico digitale o umanista digitale,[33] ma è la storia stessa (fonti e storiografia) e la memoria del passato che sono, de facto, diventate digitali a prescindere di come gli storici individualmente e/o come gruppo professionale organizzato, si rapportino oggi al digital turn, ai digital humanities e alla storia digitale. La connivenza virtuosa con le tecnologie nonostante l’assenza di un quadro disciplinare istituzionalizzato per le Digital Humanities come in Inghilterra per esempio,[34] ha avuto delle ricadute diffuse e positive sul mestiere di storico nel suo insieme anche in Italia.[35] E’ certamente la comunicazione pubblica e una diffusa presenza del passato e delle memorie di ognuno in rete per le quali manca spesso la coscienza storica, che questionano il ruolo dello storico di professione nei confronti del mondo digitale.

[1] FREDERIC CLAVERT, e SERGE NOIRET (a cura di): L’histoire contemporaine à l’ère numérique - Contemporary History in the Digital Age, Bruxelles, Peter Lang, 2013.
[2] FRANCOIS HARTOG: Régimes d’historicité. Présentisme et expériences du temps, Seuil, Paris, 2012; Pierre Nora intervistato sul significato dei “lieux de mémoire” ribadiva la necessità per gli storici di dare un senso e una vita nel presente alle trace della memoria collettiva della nazione. (PIERRE NORA: Historien Public., Paris, Gallimard, 2011, pp.446-47.)
[3] PHILIPPE JOUTARD: Révolution numérique et rapport au passé, in PIERRE NORA (a cura di) La culture du passé, in «Le Débat», n.177, 2013/5, novembre-dicembre 2013, pp.145-52.
[4] SERGE NOIRET : La digital history: histoire et mémoire à la portée de tous, in Pierre Mounier (a cura di) : Read/Write Book 2. Une introduction aux humanités numériques, Marseille, OpenEdition Press, 2012, p. 151-177, URL: [http://press.openedition.org/258].
[5] ROLANDO MINUTI: Internet et le métier d'historien: réflexions sur les incertitudes d'une mutation. Paris, PUF, 2002.
[6] DANIEL .J. COHEN e ROY ROSENZWEIG: Digital history: a guide to gathering, preserving, and presenting the past on the Web., Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005; vedere inoltre degli stessi autori, Clio Wired. The future of the past in the digital age., New York, Columbia University Press, 2011.
[7] ANACLET PONS: El desorden digital: guía para historiadores y humanistas., Siglo XXI de España, Madrid, 2013.
[8]. J.L BORGES, La Biblioteca de Babel in ”Ficciones“Alianza, Madrid, 1971, pp.89-100. Sull’incapacità di trovare una risposta nella “babele” dell’informazione, oggi nel web, il tema affrontato da Borges nel 1941, vedere il saggio di C. ROLLASON,: “Borges’ “Library of Babel” and the Internet", in IJOWLAC - Indian Journal of World Literature and Culture, 1/1, Gennaio-Giugno 2004, pp.117-120, ripubblicato qui: URL: [http://www.themodernword.com/borges/borges_papers_rollason2.html].
[9] COHEN e ROSENZWEIG, Digital History, cit., p.3.
[10] Weller distingue tra “those historians who were professionally engaged in digital tools and technologies in their work … and those who did not consider the subject within their remit at all, despite regularly using email, distribution lists, digitized newspapers or images and many other online resources.”, TONI WELLER: History in the Digital Age., London, Routledge, 2012, p.2.
[11] Lo stesso approccio cauto sull’impatto delle nuove tecnologie si ritrova in Italia in alcun recenti riflessioni sul significato della storia digitale. Il gruppo di giovani studiosi che fanno capo alla rivista Diacronie adopera questa visione cauta nel fascicolo a cura di Elisa Grandi, Deborah Paci e Émilien Ruiz: Digital History. La storia nell’era dell’accesso., in “Diacronie. Studi di Storia Contemporanea", 10/2, 2012; la stessa cautela si ritrova in un saggio che introduce il numero speciale della rivista storica BMGN nel Benelux a cura di GERBEN ZAAGSMA: On Digital History., in BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, Vol. 128/4, dicembre 2013.
[12] J. RUTNER e R. C. SCHONFELD,: Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Historians: Final Report from ITHAKA S+R, December 10, 2012.
[13] Il Manifesto dei Digital Humanities elaborato da Marin Dacos e da chi assistette nel 2010 al THATcamp Parigi, fu presentato e approvato anche al primo THATcamp italiano, THATCamp Firenze all’Istituto Universitario Europeo, dal mondo dell’umanistica digitale italiana. Le proposte del manifesto sono volutamente generiche per identificare un momento di passaggio e di cambiamento e non legare il contenuto del manifesto ad una sola cultura, un solo paese o a pochi gruppi di innovatori. Si veda di M. DACOS: Manifesto delle Digital Humanities, 26 marzo 2011, pubblicato in italiano dopo THATCamp Florence, nel marzo 2011, URL: [http://www.thatcampflorence.it].
[15] L’AUICD italiana (Associazione per l'Informatica Umanistica e la Cultura Digitale) aderisce all’EADH, (European Association for Digital Humanities), URL: [http://eadh.org], una delle componenti dell’ADHO (Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations), URL: [http://www.digitalhumanities.org/], che raggruppa le associazioni internazionali di Umanistica Digitale; per motivi di diversificazione linguistica e culturale, è stato fondato durante il THATCamp Saint-Malo in Francia nel 2013, un associazione francofona di umanistica digitale, Humanistica con sede in Canada (URL: http://www.humanisti.ca). Il campo è oggi in piena espansione organizzativa ed associativa a livello mondiale.
[16] Sui mutamenti profondi, culturali, sociali ed economici, in corso nella nostra società dopo l’avvento di internet, si veda di MANUEL CASTELLS: La nascita della società in rete, Milano, EGEA-Università Bocconi, 2002 e dello stesso autore: The Internet galaxy: reflections on the Internet, business, and society., New York, Oxford University Press, 2001.
[17] WILLARD  MCCARTY: Humanities computing., Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
[18] TITO ORLANDI: Informatica Umanistica., Roma, La Nuova Italia Scientifica, 1990. Per una bibliografia degli scritti di Orlandi rimando alla sua pagina web personale: Pubblicazioni relative all'Informatica umanistica, oltre che alla bibliografia contenuta in LORENZO PERILLI e DOMENICO FIORMONTE (a cura di), La Macchina del Tempo. Studi di informatica umanistica in onore di Tito Orlandi, Firenze,. Le Lettere, 2011.
[19] La nuova disciplina sarebbe da inserire nell’Area 10: Scienze dell’antichità, filologico-letterarie e storico-artistiche, e nell’Area 11: Scienze storiche, filosofiche, pedagogiche e psicologiche. (GINO RONCAGLIA,: Informatica umanistica: le ragioni di una disciplina). Si veda anche il manifesto Proposta di costituzione del settore scientifico-disciplinare: Informatica applicata alle discipline umanistiche (ovvero: Informatica umanistica), e a mia conoscenza il primo manuale italiano per la didattica dell’Informatica Umanistica che ne anticipava già le concezioni, TERESA NUMERICO, e ARTURO VESPIGNANI, (a cura di): Informatica per le scienze umanistiche., Bologna, Il Mulino, 2003.
[20] Il primo manuale (2004) accessibile dal 2007 gratuitamente in linea è di SUSAN SCHREIBMAN, RAY SIEMENS, JOHN UNSWORTH (a cura di) A Companion to Digital Humanities, Oxford, Blackwell, 2004. CLARE WARWICK: Digital Humanities in Practice., London, Facet Publishing, 2012; M.K. GOLD: Debates in the digital humanities., Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2012; MELISSA TERRAS, JULIANNE NYHAN, e EDWARD VANHOUTTE: Defining Digital Humanities: A Reader., London, Ashgate, 2013; sulle pratiche degli storici dopo il “digital turn”, rimando anche a SERGE NOIRET: “Storia Digitale: sulle risorse di rete per gli storici.”, in La Macchina del Tempo. Studi di informatica umanistica in onore di Tito Orlandi, cit., pp.201-25.
[21] PHILIPPE RYGIEL: L’inchiesta storica in epoca digitale, in Memoria e Ricerca, n.35, 2010, p.163-.
[22] Text Encoding Initiative (TEI)  URL: [http://www.tei-c.org/index.xml].
[23] Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI), URL: [http://dublincore.org/].
[24] Open Source Initiative (OSI) è un progetto per rendere accessibile la codifica dei programmi e banche dati a tutti, URL: [http://www.opensource.org/].
[25] Zotero, URL: [http://www.zotero.org].
[26] Open Archives Initiative (OAI), URI: [http://www.openarchives.org/].
[27] Open Archives Initiative. Protocol for Metadata Harvesting, URL: [http://www.openarchives.org/pmh/].
[28] GIANCARLO MONINA: Storia digitale. Il dibattito storiografico in Italia, in Memoria e Ricerca, n.43/2, pp.185-202, qui, p.185.
[29] VIKTOR MAYER-SCHÖNBERGER, e KENNETH CUKIER: Big Data: a Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think. Boston, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. Vedere inoltre di DANAH BOYD e KATE CRAWFORD, Critical Questions for Big Data, in “Information, Communication & Society”15/5, 2012, pp.662‑679 e, di KATE CRAWFORD: Think Again: Big Data. Why the rise of machines isn't all it's cracked up to be, in “Foreign Policy”, 10 Maggio 2013. Infine, per un esempio dell’uso della dataficazione a storia vedere JORIS VAN EIJNATTEN, TOINE PETERS e JAAP VERHEUL: Big Data for Global History: The Transformative Promise of Digital Humanities., in BMGN - Low Countries Historical Review, n.128/4, 2013, pp.55-77.
[30] Il concetto di “data driven history” è quello che ha usato il compianto PETER HABER per definire il mondo nuovo della storia digitale, nel suo Digital past: Geschichtswissenschaft im digitalen Zeitalter, München, Oldenbourg Verlag, 2011.
[31] DANIEL J. COHEN, MAX FRISCH, P.GALLAGHER, STEVEN. MINTZ, KIRSTEN SWORD, A.MURRELL TAYLOR, WILLIAM G. THOMAS III, e WILLIAM J TURKEL.: Interchange: The Promise of Digital History, in The Journal of American History, 2, 2008, pp.452-91.
[32] Anche se per loro, la rivoluzione digitale passa da una nuova conoscenza transdisciplinare e dalla collaborazione tra diverse scienze; vedere di STEPHANE LAMASSÉ, e PHILIPPE RYGIEL, Nouvelles frontières de l’historien , in «Revue Sciences/Lettres», n.2, 2014, DOI: 10.4000/rsl.411.
[33] E’ quello che rileva Claudia Favero nella sua inchiesta per sapere “What does it mean to be a digital historian in Italy and in the UK?” basata purtroppo su un numero molto circoscritto d’interviste qualificate in entrambi I paesi. L’autrice delimita nella sua analisi, problemi e contradizioni degli storici che s’interrogano sul loro lavoro con il digitale o che fanno storia digitale, in CLAUDIA FAVERO: Digital Historians in Italy and the United Kingdom: Perspectives and Approaches., in CLARE MILLS, MICHAEL PIDD e ESTHER WARD: Proceedings of the Digital Humanities Congress 2012Studies in the Digital Humanities., Sheffield, HRI Online Publications, 2014.
[34] Defining digital humanities: a reader., cit.. Una critica dell’uniformità culturale dei digital humanities, una definizione alternative e una descrizione degli ambiti disciplinari in Europa e altrove sono forniti da MARIN DACOS e PIERRE MOUNIER: Humanités numériques – État des lieux et positionnement de la recherche française dans le contexte international., Marseilles, OpenEdittion/Institut Français, 2014, pp.29-36.
[35] Malgrado ciò, la valutazione scientifica in positivo dell’Umanistica Digitale che include anche il lavoro degli storici con il digitale, è tuttora penalizzata nei suoi aspetti transdiciplinari dall’accademia italiana. L’Associazione per l’Informatica Umanistica e la Cultura Digitale (AUICD) ha denunciato sul sito ROARS, “le gravi circostanze emerse con la pubblicazione dei risultati dell’Abilitazione Scientifica Nazionale, che rischiano di compromettere in modo serio e preoccupante il futuro della formazione e della ricerca in un settore, quello dell’informatica umanistica e delle digital humanities, concordemente giudicato di importanza strategica per l’innovazione tecnologica e per la conservazione del patrimonio culturale”. (Osservazioni critiche dell’AIUCD sull’ASN).

Sunday, 18 May 2014

European Ideals, Public History and the vote for the EU Parliament, May 22-25, 2014

euandi-EUDO-EUISince the Lisbon Treaty in 2007, European citizens are able to better decide the kind of Europe they would like to live in: the EU Parliament influences the choice of the President of the European Commission. The EUandI project (EUI) provides European citizens with a tool that helps them deciding which party to vote for in the EP elections (May 22-25), based on their preferences concerning best policies for tomorrow's Europe
But communicating to national public opinions why such a democratic activity is a fundamental issue influencing the future of Europe, has become a very hard task today. The EU hardly speaks directly to its citizens. More important, the EU does not refer to the historical construction of a united Europe and it is silent about European Memories with the only exception of the Holocaust. History and Memory do not offer decisive arguments to bring European citizens to the polls, building the future on a common knowledge about the past. Moreover, digital social media -Twitter uses the hashtag #EP2014 for the polls- are often silent about the historical dimension of the European Integration process and its importance today. History is sometimes abused to support present political goals but it remains often far away from political debates.
The broader narrative about the history of Europe encounters also negative criticisms reaching far beyond an interpretation of the historical process. Sometimes European intellectuals  (including contemporary historians) are eager to stress all the problems experienced by the EU integration process. History, however, is not only about facts, but also about which facts are selected to interpret the past. And the writing of history takes into account contemporary contexts, ideologies and cultures. Historians are divided in their visions of the European past: should they still promote the idealistic contribution of the peace-keeping effect of European integration, as the Commission does? Clearly, today, unemployment and the power of the banks are far more visible than the results of the recent enlargment, which created a new peaceful space that includes Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. The enlargment, however, also entails putting together conflicting pasts and memories. Today's enlarged Europe faces huge problems: how to integrate all new and old countries and how to renew the western European idealism in the postwar era and applying it to these new but different pasts and active memories ? 
National public opinions are not interested in the historical dimension of our common pasts, but, rather, in today's unemployment in the Union. European citizens and politicians are generally unable to interpret the broader EU historical framework. Their public discussions revolve around very short term social, economic and financial issues. The whole EU byzantine institutional architecture, including the directly elected European Parliament, and the EU decision making process, are perceived as far away from ordinary lives. EU citizens know about their family memories, but they don't feel part of a wider European history.
There are not enough cultural initiatives dealing with conflicting memories and engaging the public with the broader European past and its contradictions. For example, the Museum of Europe in Brussels in 2010 held an exhibition called America, it's also our history and remained inactive from then.
The House of European History (expected late 2015) in Brussels, an initiative of the European Parliament itself, aims at establishing a large interpretative forum about different European pasts. The visitor experience will be shaped through a permanent exhibition, with the purpose of educating the public about European history beyond national boundaries, a history made of divergent pasts.
House_European_History_BXLBuilding museums, commemorating past events, creating exhibitions, are the kind of cultural initiatives needed today. The vision of the European founding fathers, their dream of a united and peaceful Europe has disappeared from political discussions and although it remains a central theme in academic historiography, it has no impact on the wider European public.  But voting for the EU parliament is a concrete political action that allows each citizen to be part of a shared process started with the long peaceful transition between the 20th and the 21st centuries in Europe.
The "United Europe" imagined by Churchill in January 1948, had to be unified looking at "moral, cultural, sentimental and social unities and affinities throughout all Europe.... " Two years later, Robert Schuman wrote confidentially to Konrad Adenauer on May 7 1950, just before submitting his famous "plan" to the French Government, that a peaceful European construction for the future had to be built remembering the violent pasts and conflicts between France and Germany. For Schuman, Europe integration needed concrete steps. And the European Coal and Steel Community (1952) was the first concrete initiative towards a unified and peaceful Europe. Many other concrete steps followed since then, until the signature of the Lisbon Treaty (2007). But the European integration process is slowly growing generation after generation. In this letter (republished in a very interesting French digital history project called Des Lettres), Robert Schuman wrote: 
Robert_Schuman-1929-640x600"Monsieur le Chancelier, 
A la veille de proposer au Gouvernement Français de prendre une décision importante pour l'avenir des relations franco-allemandes, de l'Europe et de la Paix, je [...] désire aussi vous expliquer l'esprit dans lequel j'ai rédigé cette déclaration. La paix mondiale ne saurait être sauvegardée sans des efforts créateurs à la mesure des dangers qui la menacent. La contribution qu'une Europe organisée et vivante peut apporter à la civilisation est indispensable au maintien de relations pacifiques.  [...] L'Europe ne se fera pas d'un coup ni dans une construction d'ensemble. Elle se fera si des réalisations concrètes créent d'abord une solidarité de fait. [...]." 

Young  generations in the Union have lost the memory of the 20th century global conflicts, the memory of their pasts. They ignore the reasons why the EU started to be concretely built by people like Schuman and Adenauer. Such a memory is not active in our present and has been forgotten by new nationalist anti-Euro(pean) parties. New narratives about Europe legitimaze today's euroskepticism  and reinforce the power of antagonistic nationalisms.
Expo  14 18  c'est notre histoire
Academic history is about free individual research and can be defined as "deep history", a critical analysis of the past with no need to link contemporary issues with it. But there is also a useful history for the present based on the findings of academic historiography: public history. The latter engages with memory issues in society and reaches a broader public opinion aiming at a more diffused knowledge of the past. This could become the role of the House of History
A "useful history" also caracterises the one year exhibition in Brussels, commemorating the centenary of the 14-18 conflict: the First World War is our historyAt the end of the visit the public is asked to answer questions, such as: what would you have done at the eve of WW1? But, more important, the exhibition ends with a slide showing the EU receiving the Nobel Prize for Peace 2012. This connection with the violent 20th century history is a metaphor: a peaceful Europe was created from the battlefield of Verdun to the Lisbon Treaty. This exhibition integrates the past as a living dimension of contemporary reflections about EU policies.

Public Historians in the Museum of Europe, together with Tempora, a Belgian private society specialized in design and management of exhibitions, have organized 14-18 It's Our History, (video available) which connects generations throughout the 20th century with today's Europe. Academic historians adopt a critical approach to the past in all circumstances and are skeptical about creating a "useful" historical connection between the traumatic battle of Verdun and the 2012 Nobel price. But such an approach could also be valid to narrate 20th century history.
The European Integration process is not taught in many EU educational systems. Digital media and the web can help building a better public awareness of the recent European past. Public historians can make an important contribution in this respect. In order to add a concrete historical dimension to the present, and a broader dimension to the European election, public historians in the Historical Archives of the EU at the European University Institute and in the Centre Virtual de la Connaissance de l'Europe (CVCE) in Luxembourg, have published online key historical documents concerning the process of EU integration. These include symbolic contributions to the European construction such as the Folon painting (1979) with the words, Europe is Hope A digital communication of primary sources concerning European history promotes European citizenship and, maybe also a growing participation to the polls at the EU parliament elections in May 2014. 
The CVCE published a short history of the EU Parliament with primary documents. The Center offers further readings to understand better the history of the European Parliamentits compositionthe election of its Members and the number and distribution of seats as well as the single Statute for Members"In view of the forthcoming European elections (22–25 May 2014), the CVCE offers a selection of resources (synopses, photos and graphics) and oral accounts about the European Parliament from its establishment in 1952 to the present day. This wealth of resources is available in French and English. In this way, the CVCE hopes to help improve public awareness of the European Parliament and contribute to a greater understanding of the issues involved in the European elections."
A Digital Public History approach to the history of the European Parliament (access to digital primary sources), is also a way through which the European University Institute Historical Archives of the European Union promotes a reflection on the past within a wider project about "Civil Society and the European Elections, 2014". A virtual exhibition, "L'Europa Vince. 35 years of European Elections", illustrates some important historical moments of the 35 years old EU Parliament. 
L’Europa vince – 35 Years of European elections

"The European Parliament represents over 500 million inhabitants divided among the 28 Member States of the European Union. It is the only institution of the EU which is elected directly by its citizens every five years, it constitutes the principal democratic basis of the Union. With the entry into vigor of the Treaty of Lisbon, the Parliament received equal status as the Council in the framework of the legislative procedure. [...] The background to the European elections is well documented in the archives of the European institutions and in the private fonds held in the Historical Archives of the European Union in Florence. To illustrate the richness and the diversity of these fonds, the HAEU in partnership with the Archives Service of the European Parliament is offering an historical journey of the European Elections by means of a weekly selection of photos, posters, press cuttings and official documents."
Should we accept that Europe today is only about financial crisis, the power of banks, and unemployment? Such issues are certainly essential, but nevertheless, we should not forget Schuman's message delivered after the Second World War. Remembering history enlarges our narrow daily perspective and questions the fundamental reasons behind the vote itself and the possibility for each citizen to bet on a better future.
It is hard to understand how much a digital public history approach to European History, together with public exhibitions and public commemorations of the past could help stimulating a renewed European idealism or, more directly, a better understanding of the European integration process and participation to the vote in May.