May 24, 2016

Individual research projects


Shaping a digital memory platform on migration narratives: A public history project on Italian and Portuguese migration memories in Luxembourg

The first portuguese migrants arrived in Luxembourg in the 1960's and the 1970's. © Unilu.

The first portuguese migrants arrived in Luxembourg in the 1960’s and the 1970’s. © Unilu.

This research aims at studying migration narratives in Luxembourg combining a plural cultural history framework with a systematical historical comparison of the mediated memories of two specific groups of immigrants in the Grand Duchy – the Italian and the Portuguese – and their different generations’ narratives. Approaching the subject from the perspective of “History from Below” and using an innovative methodological apparatus built on oral history and digital and public history methods this research expect to encounter an alternative storytelling for these immigrants with acknowledgment to their own agency as historical actors. To access and interpret the migration narratives of diverse generations of Italian and Portuguese in Luxembourg, the project will employ a digital toolkit which will be tested in the examination of different bodies of sources (ego-documents, oral history, published material), enabling a “scalable reading” text analysis of the whole corpora. One of the main outcomes of this project, besides the PhD thesis itself, is the shaping, together with the community, of a platform for digital storytelling on migration in Luxembourg, aiming at sharing memories of different generations and communities online. The process of building and running this “platform” as an example of doing public history with the means of digital tools and technologies is the central empirical challenge of this project. The platform will allow to test tools for doing digital history online (text mining and visualization software) and to actively engage with the “object of study” itself that is the different generations of Italian and Portuguese migrants in Luxembourg, sharing with them, the authority of the project. Doing so, the projects aims at contributing to the Luxembourgish historiography on migration, as well as to reflect on the methodological and epistemological debates in the field of digital history / digital humanities, by evaluating the effect historical crowdsourcing and digital source criticism to the historiographical operation.

PhD thesis by Anita Lucchesi.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Andreas Fickers, Faculté des Lettres, des Sciences Humaines, des Arts et des Sciences de l’Education, Identités. Politiques, Sociétés, Espaces (IPSE), University of Luxembourg.

Digital History as Trading Zone

header-smallDigital History signifies a transition wherein digital methods are incorporated in historical research. Digital History thus introduces techniques developed by computer scientists or engineers into the practice of historians, so that we can speak of methodological interdisciplinarity. 1 However, how digital methods affect the practices of History, in methodology as well as epistemology, remains unexplored. My PhD research aims to address this gap.


A digital platform for source criticism

source-code-583537_960_720As of June 1st 2016 Dr. Stef Scagliola works as postdoc researcher at the Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education the University of Luxembourg, where she will be leading the development of a digital platform for teaching digital source criticism. This virtual environment has the objective to sensitize students and scholars to reflect on the epistemological and methodological challenges of digitization and of online accessibility of historical sources. This will be done by offering training modules and concrete case studies that reflect the diversity of sub-disciplines of history, and illustrate the changes at each stage of the research process: searching and identifying relevant sources, selecting and annotating them, analyzing the content, presenting the outcome and finally curating the dataset in order to make it suitable for re-use.  She will keep a blog of her experiences during the course of the project.

Post-doc research by Dr. Stef Scagliola.

Kunstkopf stereophony – Failure and Success of Dummy Head Recording: An Innovation History of 3D Listening

stefanprojectThis project studies the history of dummy head technology (Kunstkopf-stereophony) which was full of high hopes, disappointments, and late success. Presented in 1973 and praised for its true to the original sound event “super-stereo”-quality, contemporaneous commentators expected that the new technology would revolutionize radio and music recording. However, by the end of the decade, it was considered a failed innovation. Then, in the late 1980s, dummy head technology started a second career as measurement instrument in acoustical engineering. The two very different trajectories of dummy head technology are interesting examples of the ruptures and discontinuities in the development of a sound technology; ruptures, which reveal a multiplicity of listening practices and habits that this project aims at studying in detail. The initially failed establishment of dummy head recording helps to reveal the historical specificity and plurality of “listening positions” of recording engineers, electrical engineers, radio makers, and radio listeners. The project will use insights from innovation study literature on path dependencies as framework. More precise, it will look into institutional, technological, medial, and socio-cultural path dependencies that hampered or enabled the success of dummy head recording in the two fields of application. It will be argued that socio-cultural path dependencies in music recording played a crucial role in the failed acceptance of the dummy head microphone, as well as in the successful introduction of the dummy head as a measuring device. To show this, the project will describe the “aural thinking” (Susan Schmidt Horning) of acoustical engineers, recording engineers, and radio makers. The research project has thus two main objectives: it will help to better understand the various conditions for technical innovation in the media industry, and it will provide insights into (professional) listening practices and thus contribute to a more general understanding of the nature and historical situatedness of aural thinking.

Project by Dr. Stefan Krebs