Italian Trulli

"Building community" at the National and/or International Level in the Context of the Digital Humanities

Adeline Joffres (adeline.joffres@huma-num.fr), Huma-Num, France and Mike Priddy (mike.priddy@dans.knaw.nl), DANS-KNAW and Francesca Morselli (francesca.morselli@dans.knaw.nl), DARIAH-EU; DANS-KNAW and Fatiha Idmhand (fatihaidmhand@yahoo.es), Université de Poitiers and Thomas Lebarbé (lebarbet@univ-grenoble-alpes.fr), Université de Grenoble and Caroline Abéla (Caroline.ABELA@cnrs.fr), Université de Bordeaux and Xavier Granier (xavier.granier@u-bordeaux.fr), Université de Bordeaux and Mehdi Chayani (mehdi.chayani@u-bordeaux-montaigne.fr), Université de Bordeaux and Paul Bertrand (paul.bertrand@uclouvain.be), Université Catholique de Louvain and Xavier Rodier (xavier.rodier@univ-tours.fr), Université de Tours and Christophe Parisse (cparisse@parisnanterre.fr), Université de Paris-Nanterre and Céline Poudat (celine.poudat@unice.fr), Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis and Véronique Ginouvès (veronique.ginouves@univ-amu.fr), Université Aix-Marseille, Phonothèque de la MMSH and Fabrice Melka (Fabrice.Melka@univ-paris1.fr), Université de Paris 1 - Institut des Mondes Africains - CNRS and Michael Sinatra (michael.eberle.sinatra@umontreal.ca), Université de Montréal and Emmanuel Château-Dutier (emmanuel.chateau.dutier@umontreal.ca), Université de Montréal and Jason Camlot (jason.camlot@concordia.ca), Concordia University and Stéfan Sinclair (stefan.sinclair@mcgill.ca), Mc Gill University and Gimena Del Rio Riande (gdelrio@conicet.gov.ar), CONICET and Paula Ricaurte (pricaurt@itesm.mx), Tecnológico de Monterrey and Isabel Galina Russel (igalina@unam.mx), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and José Francisco Barrón Tovar (fbarron@filos.unam.mx), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Ernesto Priani Saisó (epriani@gmail.com), Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Martin Grandjean (martin.grandjean@unil.ch), Université de Lausanne and Aurélien Berra (aurelien.berra@parisnanterre.fr), Université de Paris-Nanterre and Olivier Baude (olivier.baude@huma-num.fr), Huma-Num, France and Stephane Pouyllau (stephane.pouyllau@huma-num.fr), Huma-Num, France

Knowledge production has always act globally, and when it comes to the humanities early networks of scholars can still be traced in their letter correspondence. With the emergence of digital humanities more prominently in the 1970s, research communities have organized themselves in many different ways. The enthusiasm generated by the promises of what was sometimes perceived as a "new field" were to some extent echoed in new forms of institutionalization, to the point of defining a discipline in its own right. But the enthusiasms was also accompanied by a certain resistance of communities reluctant to introduce digital technology into their field.

The term of "digital humanities" in these earlier days of adopting digital methods into the humanities created an area, a niche, inside which pioneers in Digital Humanities could gain critical mass. Today, where digital methods are far more widely applied, one can observe an almost opposite trend, the abandoning of a ‘specific label’ and a much broader advocacy concerning all humanities.

What remains specific for DH communities is the close alliance between content providers (which themselves are in a process of digitisation content and access), humanities scholars applying digital methods, and computer scientists linking to new methodological achievements in their field. However, this alliance can express itself in very different forms of national and international organisation, and is far from following a specific model.

This panel examines different ways of "forming a community" among digital humanities scholars and scholars in other fields, and other actors in DH. The contributions span a range from generic ways to design digital research infrastructures in the SSH, over national solutions to supranational coordination

The purpose of this panel is to unfold the diversity of the current "digital humanist movement”, not only to compare, but also to understand what is at stake for the actors involved and what impact the different forms of organisation have on creation and evolution of research communities. We further discuss issues of cohesion and durability. Through the papers presented, we will examine the impact of bottom-up, top-down and horizontal strategies as well as the adoption of hybrid solutions (organizational, disciplinary, methodological, scalar) in the design of research communities. This approach will allow us to put convergences and challenges into perspective and to question the re-compositions at work within SSH communities.

This panel will highlight the experiences of SSH research communities from different cultures and organizations rooted at different levels of governance, such as some French communities structured around institutional nodes such as Maisons des Sciences de l'Homme (MSH), or research infrastructures at the national (TGIR Huma-Num) or European level (DARIAH ERIC); project based collaboration of research infrastructures (DANS, The Netherlands) and Canada (CRIHN); and professional networks and transnational associations related to digital humanities (e.g. Humanistica, the French-speaking association of digital humanities, or the Latin American network for digital humanities under construction). The comparison of the experiences presented will not produce a homogeneous and smooth image but will highlight differences in approaches and organisation. Even it seems nearly impossible to give account of every association that could be representative on a way to build community in DH, the chair of the session will make an introduction with a brief summary of this landscape. That said, besides the geographical aspect that we try to include, another is that we are giving voice to formal and informal associations such as the LatamHD network, that is just at an early stage and that is not yet defined in its goals. We decided to propose several solutions to deal with the diversity of needs and practises inside our communities and we wanted to present some of them to share our experiences and initiate discussions during this panel in order to develop collaborations with colleagues sharing the same kind of constraints.

 

Thus, the objective is to have a broad discussion with the audience to broaden the perspectives to other experiences.

 

This panel aims to contribute to the reflective work in the wider DH context about factors of constitution, consolidation and evolution of its research communities .

1. Talk 1 = “Architecting the Digital Humanities”

The Digital Humanities is a broad church of different communities, each with differing methodologies, approaches to data creation, and data processing; developed organically over time. For cross-community communication and interaction there must be a common form in which to describe the communities and their components. Understanding commonalities and differences is key to the successful building of infrastructures, and especially for distributed transnational supra-community research infrastructures. The creation of international e-infrastructures such as the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERICs) such as DARIAH-EU and CESSDA (and others on the ESFRI roadmap) to provide services to broad designated communities means that there is the need to comprehend what form topic specific communities take in order to gather and support them in an efficient manner.

This paper will present three architectures, from the abstract to the concrete, created in, and for, humanities e-infrastructures. At the most abstract level is the Reference Model for the Social Sciences and Humanities Data Infrastructures (RM-SSH), a deceptively simple high-level model which can be used to model everything from a researcher with their laptop to a distributed ERIC. The second architecture, the DARIAH Reference Architecture (DARIAH-RA) was created to systematically and formally describe contributions to this e-infrastructure. As such it can be used to describe contributed activities and services as diverse as summer schools and conferences to resource creation and data hosting. The DARIAH-RA is built upon the foundation of the RM-SSH. The most concrete of the architectures is that of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure (EHRI) which currently describes the metadata processing and ingest of archival descriptions and controlled vocabularies into an aggregating portal, both manually and automatically. This information architecture (EHRI-IA) includes process workflows to aid understanding for sustainability as members of the community change over time.

All three architectures, due to their nature of describing distributed infrastructure systems and communities, use a common model: the Reference Model of Open Distributed Processing (ODP-RM). This provides a framework to describe the architecture of open, distributed, processing (ODP) infrastructures; whenever possible ODP-RM uses a formal description technique to specify the architecture, in order to guarantee the consistency and reliability of the description.

2. Talk 2 = “Growing Communities in the Arts and Humanities. The case study of the DARIAH-EU Working Groups”

DARIAH-EU is the European research infrastructure for the arts and humanities. In 2016 it was recognised as an ERIC and it comprises 17 Members and several Cooperating Partners in eight non-member countries. The activities of DARIAH comprise four main strands, namely: 1. training and education; 2. resources, tools and methods made available by and for the research community; 3. policy and advocacy support (on topics such as open science); and finally, 4. a growing transnational community of researchers.

This paper will focus on the fourth aspect and aims at exploring the case study of the DARIAH-EU Working Groups (henceforth WG) as a model in which research communities organize themselves, given the boundaries and the assets provided by a research infrastructure such as DARIAH. The DARIAH-EU WG are transnational, grass-rooted, self-organized, collaborative groups which have their roots in existing communities of practice. They form the heart of the DARIAH-ERIC community, but at the same time they maintain the existing ties with the (national and local) institutions where the WG members are based.

The creation of new DARIAH WGs follows the need of communities to foster innovative scholarly practices and to provide the infrastructure to support them. In turn, participation in existing WGs is a means to consolidate infrastructure and scholarship in certain areas of research, and to create or reinforce the network of expertise inside DARIAH. The WG level enables an organizational structure which is not just flexible and dynamic, but also driven by feedback and as such it helps DARIAH to be sustainable. Furthermore the value of the working groups lies in the fact they allow a better alignment between research institutions functioning on a national basis (universities, data centers, data archives, libraries, archives, projects etc…) and the research interests that emerge in international collaborations - the WGs are therefore able to optimize their own research environment by harnessing both national and international horizons.

In addition, the work of the WGs is considered so central in the development of the Research Infrastructure that in 2017 DARIAH-EU established a funding scheme to provide financial support for their activities, including travel to WG meetings, core developments such as the creation of tools, policy documents or dissemination material.

This paper will therefore examine the European landscape of the DARIAH WGs, firstly by charting their evolution since 2015 and secondly, by identifying those dynamics of the research community that are the basis for successful collaboration, exchange of information and experiences.

This presentation also aims to reflect on what the challenges are in the creation and maintenance of such dispersed communities, and therefore it wishes to contribute to a fruitful discussion with other national and international experiences.

3. Talk 3 = “Building Community", the Example of French Consortia Labelled by the TGIR Huma-Num in SSH”

Based on a review of nearly 10 years, this communication aims to reflect on the factors that led to the construction and development of consortia as the fabric of an emerging digital humanities community in France.

The invention of a national infrastructure, partly based on consortia in France by the TGIR Huma-Num, was an original way of responding to the difficulties of the human and social sciences community in keeping pace with the rapid development of the digital humanities. Starting from the needs, uses and practices of higher education and research stakeholders, consortia have brought together communities from different scientific fields around common challenges. Thus, in 2010, the TGIR Huma-Num launched a call for the creation of consortia around disciplines and/or objects, materials or research data articulated around a human and technological device supported by services.

In five years, 10 consortia have been proposed and validated by the Huma-Num Scientific Council (2 in linguistics, 1 on the corpus of authors in the broad sense, 1 in geography, 1 in ethnology, 1 around medieval sources, 1 in political sociology, 1 in archaeology, 1 on musical data and 1 in relation to the use of 3D in SHS).

The ways in which these communities have been built and the forms they have taken vary, depending on the context in which they emerged and the nature of the research communities they represent. For example, the Consortia Archives des Ethnologues and ImaGEO started from the objectives of processing and promoting the data of researchers whose resource centres and libraries are depositaries. These consortia were thus constituted by focusing on the promotion of collections and their scientific and public mobilization, while other consortia, such as CAHIER, focused on the corpus of authors and their editorial enhancement to give rise to new research, while others are oriented towards a technology and the ensembles created from it, such as the 3D consortium. Still others have preferred to open up to a wide range of documentary typologies and very diversified modes of exploitation, trying to bring together large user communities, such as the COSME consortium dedicated to the study of medieval sources, or the CORLI consortium bringing together linguists and their work on corpora.

Each of them has its own mode of governance, internal dynamics and distinct inclusion capacities, but this hybridity has proved to be a strength in working together on issues that cut across all consortia (i.e. data interoperability, legal and ethical issues, pedagogical issues, etc.), which involve them in a transdisciplinary way. In this respect, the FAIR principles are real assets for ensuring the coherence of projects - in particular on legal and ethical issues, long-term preservation or data feedback to civil society.

Dialogue on the digital practices of communities and the transmission of knowledge exchanged or acquired within consortia is now a real challenge at European and international level. New practices that need to be articulated at different levels are emerging, and consortia are the incubators.

4. Talk 4 = “Leveraging Digital Humanities Centers: The Case of the Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur les humanités numériques in Canada”

As Neil Fraistat powerfully argues in Matthew K. Gold’s collection of essays Debates in the Digital Humanities, digital humanities centers have become important laboratories for the application of information technology to humanities research; powerful advocates for the significance of such work; crucial focal points for the theorization of the digital humanities as a field; and local nodes for cyberinfrastructure, or e-science (281). The Centre de recherche interuniversitaire sur les humanités numériques (CRIHN) was founded in Québec in the fall of 2013 in order to offer a new structure for over sixty researchers from seven universities working on various aspect of digital culture. These researchers come from various disciplinary backgrounds, primarily in the humanities but with some in social sciences (mainly communication and information studies), but they all have in common a theoretical and practical knowledge of digital humanities that, put under one roof, allow to take the full measure of the digital turn that is characteristic of our times.

With the series of change to forms and models of publications, the way that information is created, shared, and consulted has undergone some fundamental changes in the last two decades. What is thus required is not only a reconceptualization of a theoretical understanding of digital culture but also the implementation of a series of new tools for disseminating information, for finding it through data mining techniques, for long-term preservation, but also to visualize this mass of data, be it textual, sound-based or visual. These tools should be developed by and for humanities scholars, and be at the same time studied for the way in which they transform future research as well.

The CRIHN provides a space for engaging these topics on these two levels along the two axes found at the core of the Center’s mandate: “Theorizing the Digital” and “Instruments of knowledge”. The first axis focuses on a theoretical framework for understanding the goals and major shifts that have occurred in digital culture, and offer conceptual tools for describing these changes, specifically in the context of research dissemination. The second axis of the centre has as its main goal to assist researchers in transforming in a very concrete fashion the way they create, analyze, visualize, and disseminate humanities research.

The CRIHN thus allows a group of researchers to make visible our concept of a platform that can combine discoverability tools with organizational and analytical ones, as well as the modern forms of scholarly dissemination which include an actual social network that goes beyond the use of social media to actually create a live community of researchers that are already involved at the individual level in various projects related to the impact of digital culture on scholarly methods for creating, studying, and disseminating research output.

5. Talk 5 = #LatamHD

Latin America is much more than one of the largest and most diverse regions in the world; it is a symbolic construction that broadly covers Mexico and the countries of Central America, South America and the Caribbean. Latin America’s historical, sociocultural, geographical, economic, and political heterogeneity also reflects the organization of communities of practice with different realities and needs. The recent history of Digital Humanities --as Humanidades Digitales, HD-- in Latin America reflects the growing institutional interest and the promotion of initiatives aimed at the professionalization of academics and the opening of programs, curricula and spaces. On the one hand, there is interest in promoting collaboration and cooperation in the region but on the other, there is no consensus on how this could become a regional reality (not only a local one), as every country in the region has different institutional organizations and priorities. Much of the discourse has focused on “shared problems”, such as obsolete infrastructures, the lack of a grant funding system for the Humanities and disparities in digital literacy among students and scholars. It is important however to also consider shared “strengths” that could allow the development of the field in the region in order to provide both solutions to our problems as well as innovative and unique knowledge within our complex landscape.

Over the past years individuals and associations have discussed possible forms of cooperation in order to build bridges and promote collaboration in Latin America HD. In 2018, during the Digital Humanities Conference held in Mexico City, a meeting was held to discuss the creation of a regional network that could integrate the different experiences that are emerging in Latin America and the Caribbean and continued, some months later, at the HD Conference of the Asociación Argentina de Humanidades Digitales in Rosario, Argentina. These meetings were useful to discuss initial ideas not only about the importance of creating a network but also reflections on what this should look like, what characteristics it should have and how this would differ from other DH networks around the world.

LatamHD now faces the challenge of defining a shared ethos that can guide the future of HD in the region towards its own character, taking our situated practices and context into account. There is a strong conviction that the HD must assume a fundamental commitment to impact research into cultural objects from a renewed and critical perspective that may not coincide with the methods and practices of Anglophone Digital Humanities. This presentation will be a state of the art of the HD context in Latin America and the Caribbean and will describe LatamHD as a common initiative with some shared next steps and challenges. In particular we will discuss how LatamHD could follow the minka spirit (mink'a or minga in Quechua, minca of Quechua minccacuni, "request help promising something"), in the sense of a pre-Columbian tradition of community and voluntary work with social and reciprocal purposes. For example, the minka may have different purposes for a community, such as the construction of public buildings or helping a person or family, when harvesting or doing other agricultural activities, always with a recompense for those who have helped. The benefit of one should be the benefit of all.

6. Talk 6 = When language structures the community: the case of Humanistica

Founded in 2014, the Francophone association of digital humanities Humanistica occupies a special position in the landscape of DH communities. However, the international – and even intercontinental – nature of the association is neither a way of distinguishing itself from most of the other national or regional organizations nor the affirmation of the unity and the primacy of a research culture beyond the borders of France, the country most naturally associated with this language. The reason for this broad spectrum is simply that the association has been created as a grassroots movement on the basis of an already existing community that brought together DH actors from a wide variety of French-speaking areas.

It is indeed in 2010, during THATCamp Paris, that a “Manifeste des Digital humanities” was written. This fundamental text for Francophone DH rapidly saw the number of its signatories reach more than 250 individuals and institutions. If this first stage of structuring laid the foundation for a common discourse within this growing community, it is after THATCamp Lausanne (2011), Florence (2011) and especially Paris (2012) that many expressed the wish to see the collaboration strengthened within an association. It is then at THATCamp Saint-Malo (2013) that a first provisional committee was elected, before the official founding at DH2014 in Lausanne. Such an obvious link with the philosophy of these “un-conferences”, whose participants often come from many disciplinary, professional and institutional horizons, explains the very broad opening of Humanistica. Its first committee included representatives from France, Canada, Switzerland, Belgium and Luxemburg, and was not limited to tenured profiles, but also included doctoral students and engineers.

What, then, brings this very heterogeneous community together? And what services can an association provide, on a scale that lies between the traditional institutions of the academic world, national or international infrastructure projects, and global actors? In recent years, together with the growing institutionalization of digital humanities in the French-speaking areas (new curricula and training programmes, laboratories, chairs, events), the number of un-conferences has dropped, making the community harder to grasp. Although its absolute number has increased significantly – nearly 1.400 subscribers to a very active mailing list, institutions gradually integrating digital methods into their syllabi, etc. –, the normalization of DH has changed the meaning of the “community”, formerly strongly united by its minority status. Moreover, the integration of Humanistica within ADHO in 2016, the creation of the Humanités numériques journal and the recent decision to create an annual event indicate a form of maturity as well as the relative decline of forms of scientific production and exchange that were regarded as characteristic a decade ago (blogging, un-conferences, etc.).

Appendix A

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