Cross-cultural Approaches to Digital Humanities – Funding and Implementation

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Jason Rhody

    National Endowment for the Humanities, Maryland Institute for Technology and Humanities (MITH) - University of Maryland, College Park

  2. 2. Christoph Kümmel

    Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

  3. 3. Maria Effinger

    Heidelberg University Library - Institution Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (University of Heidelberg)

  4. 4. Richard Freedman

    Haverford College

  5. 5. David Magier

    Princeton University

  6. 6. Reinhard Förtsch

    Cologne Digital Archaeology Laboratory - Universität zu Köln (University of Cologne)

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Cross-cultural Approaches to Digital Humanities – Funding and Implementation
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Rhody, Jason, National Endowment for the Humanities, USA,
Kümmel, Christoph, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Germany,
Effinger, Maria, Heidelberg University Library, Germany,
Freedman, Richard, Haverford College, USA,
Magier, David, Princeton University, USA,
Förtsch, Reinhard, Universität zu Köln, Cologne Digital Archaeology Laboratory, Germany,
Beginning in 2008, DFG and NEH provided joint-funding through a bilateral program in digital humanities, a program that was based in part on the previous year’s similar opportunity offered by the NEH and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) in the United Kingdom. Such collaboration between US and European humanities funding organizations was inspired, in part, by the Report on Cyberinfrastructure in the Humanities and Social Sciences, commissioned by ACLS, which charged that such entities ‘should work together to promote collaboration and skills development – through conferences, workshops, and/or grant programs – for the creation, management, preservation, and presentation of reusable digital collections, objects, and products’ (5). Equally influential was the assertion that ‘defining and building cyberinfrastructure should be a collaborative undertaking [...] designed to foster and support collaboration across disciplinary and geographical boundaries [...] to bring new perspectives to bear on the exploration of the cultural record’ (28). Within the spirit of these charges, funding organizations increasingly believed that a call for increased international collaboration should be supported by efforts to collaborate with each other; in short, they should not demand a model that they were unable to emulate.

This poster session will highlight work from digital humanities projects funded through these international collaboration efforts. Staff from US and German funding agencies will be present to discuss the challenges and opportunities to be found in international collaboration, with input solicited from the projects themselves. The discussion will cover the organizational and financial side of international cooperation as well as issues of compatibility with regards to content. What is good practice in starting new projects in an international environment? What challenges have to be met getting different, established infrastructures to work together smoothly? How can different approaches be combined in a fruitful manner? How can funding organizations allow for flexible collaboration between institutions (including their own) often bound by complex administrative requirements? Why is it important to build infrastructure within an international context? What are successful strategies in combining infrastructure development and humanities research? Finally, what are the next steps for generating successful – even ad-hoc, fluid – international collaborations as part of the natural workflow in digital humanities production?

Brett Bobley, Jason Rhody (both of the National Endowment for the Humanities in the United States) and Christoph Kümmel (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft e.V., DFG, in Germany) will be available to discuss strategies, surprises, and challenges in developing the collaborative framework for the bilateral grant programs. Four projects funded through this process will be emphasized, with each representing a different type of digital humanities project that have unique institutional and disciplinary approaches to bilateral cooperative efforts.

The German Sales Project: Art Works, Art Markets, and Cultural Policy (Dr. Maria Effinger, Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg/Heidelberg University Library) allows conversation about opportunities for shared expertise across cultural boundaries. A partnership with the Kunstbibliothek – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, the Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, the Forschungsstelle ‘Entartete Kunst’ at the Universität Hamburg, and the Getty Research Institute, the project team is locating auction catalogs that record art transactions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland between 1930 and 1945. By documenting and digitizing thousands of catalogs in Europe and the United States and producing a database of these records that will form part of the Getty Provenance Index, they will ultimately allow scholars to explore wider issues concerning the German art market beyond traditional provenance research.

The Music Encoding Initiative (MEI) reveals the challenges and opportunities in developing and implementing standards while participating within a coalition of users for international projects. MEI, supported by two grants through the DFG/NEH Bilateral Digital Humanities program, developed an extensive XML DTD that allows for rich tagging of notated scores, which are mostly commonly available only as image files. By encoding music scores, scholars can carry out the same kinds of operations that are commonly performed on electronic textual sources, such as compiling musical corpora, data interchange, and comparative analysis. This project began as a collaboration between the University of Virginia and the University Paderborn, and has transitioned into a prototype gathering exemplar projects involving dozens of scholars, librarians, and universities crossing interdisciplinary and national boundaries. Dr. Freedman co-directs the NEH-supported ‘Les Livres De Chansons Nouvelles De Nicolas Duchemin,’ a digital facsimile project centered on a dozen sets of Renaissance music books, which also serves as an exemplar project for MEI; Dr. Freedman also is a member of the MEI advisory board.

The Yemen Manuscript Digitization Initiative (YMDI) is a collaborative project between Princeton University Library and the Freie Universität, Berlin. David Magier (Princeton University) reports on international cooperation in recovering cultural heritage materials and their subsequent incorporation into research libraries. The private manuscript libraries of Yemen comprise one of the world’s largest and most important collections of Arabic manuscripts. Collectively, these 6,000 private libraries possess some 50,000 codices, many of which are unique, recording a rich cultural legacy of Arabic and Islamic literature from the eighth century to the present. Because Yemen is relatively remote from the central lands of Islam, it has preserved many extremely rare sources, including some of the earliest extant Qur’an fragments and theological tracts, and works of great importance for the study of classical Islam, Arabic literature, science, and history. In recent years, however, Yemen’s private libraries have suffered great losses, in part due to sectarian extremists; over 10,000 manuscripts, including several entire libraries, have been destroyed. YMDI is working with a local foundation in Yemen in order to address this critical situation by devoting itself to the digital reproduction of these private collections.

The Hellespont Project, a collaboration between the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) and Tufts University, combined and expanded the collections of two of the oldest and most established digital projects in Classical Studies – Arachne and Perseus – in order to work toward a single comprehensive digital library about the ancient world. Dr. Reinhard Förtsch of the Cologne Digital Archaeology Laboratory offers commentary on the challenges and cooperative models in building interoperable resources across international boundaries.

In addition to these topics (sharing expertise; building standards and garnering users; international cooperation in recovering cultural heritage; and interoperability), Bobley, Rhody and Kümmel will be available for broader discussion about the future of international infrastructure for digital humanities, data-driven approaches, the rich entanglement of research methods with infrastructure development, and the rationale of bilateral and multilateral approaches in funding and research.

The following participants will be available during the poster session:

Brett Bobley, Director, Office of Digital Humanities, National Endowment for the Humanities
Christoph Kümmel, Program Officer, Scientific Library Services and Information Systems, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
Jason Rhody, Senior Program Officer, Office of Digital Humanities, National Endowment for the Humanities
The following participants contributed to the poster session:
Dr. Maria Effinger, Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg (Heidelberg University Library), German Sales Project
Professor Dr. Reinhard Förtsch, Universität zu Köln, Cologne Digital Archaeology Laboratory, Hellespont Project
Richard Freedman, Haverford College, Music Encoding Initiative & Les Livres De Chansons Nouvelles De Nicolas Duchemin
David Magier, Associate University Librarian for Collection Development, Princeton University,Yemen Manuscript Digitization Initiative

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Conference Info


ADHO - 2012
"Digital Diversity: Cultures, languages and methods"

Hosted at Universität Hamburg (University of Hamburg)

Hamburg, Germany

July 16, 2012 - July 22, 2012

196 works by 477 authors indexed

Conference website:

Series: ADHO (7)

Organizers: ADHO

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None