Towards a national collaborative network: Spatial Humanities Netherlands

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Rombert Stapel

    International Institute of Social History - Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)

  2. 2. Richard Zijdeman

    International Institute of Social History - Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)

  3. 3. Arie van Steensel

    Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (University of Groningen)

  4. 4. Wouter Beek


  5. 5. Edward Mac Gillavry


  6. 6. Bert Spaan

  7. 7. Thomas Vermaut

    Fryske Akademy - Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)

  8. 8. Hans Mol

    Fryske Akademy - Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW)

Work text
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Over the past decades the Netherlands has fostered a rich variety of projects in a field we would today refer to as ‘spatial humanities’. Such projects include long-running infrastructural undertakings, e.g. the municipality boundaries of
NLGIS (Radboud University Nijmegen/IISG) and cadastral maps of
HISGIS Netherlands (Fryske Akademy). With the rise of Linked Data in recent years, the field of spatial humanities has gained a strong momentum in the Netherlands by cultural heritage orientated tech-companies creating smart geo-tools (
Bert Spaan,
Webmapper). Yet, the field is fragmented and there is little coordination regarding best-practices, tools, and vocabularies.

By creating this ‘local’ network, we want to move away from previous situations in which individuals from different institutes and companies are working in isolation; tackling similar issues related to historical GIS in the Netherlands. Instead we aim to create an approachable, friendly port-of-entry for new and existing researchers and students in the field, which could foster day-to-day, informal collaborations: especially in those daily settings for which the threshold to participate in existing, global networks is, because of their distance, too high.
A key accelerator towards a spatial humanities network is the national infrastructural project
CLARIAH (2014-2024), creating a critical mass of researchers and computer science engineers working with Linked Data. Examples are
Amsterdam Time Machine,
Historical Leiden in maps, and
Adamlink. Furthermore, existing spatial humanities projects, such as the
Historical Atlas of the Low Countries (1350-1800),
OpenGazAm, and
Golden Agents will also be integrated in the network.

The backbone of the network is formed by four research institutes of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the
Fryske Akademy,
International Institute of Social History,
Huygens ING, and
Meertens Instituut (the latter three part of the newly formed
Humanities Cluster in Amsterdam). With the input of afore mentioned tech-companies, and other cultural heritage partners, the aim is to move towards a national spatial humanities platform, for exchange and collaboration, within and outside the Netherlands. To ensure the latter, the network communicates with
Pelagios and the
World-Historical Gazetteer for the exchange of infrastructural knowledge, data models and vocabularies, benefitting researchers worldwide.

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