DH Projects Within our Network
Table of contents:
Gender and Work (GaW) is a combined research and digitisation project hosted by the Department of History at Uppsala University, since 2008. The aim of the project is to increase knowledge about the work of both men and women in the past (1550-1880).
In the project we have gathered and classified thousands of fragments of information from a variety of historical sources that describe the ways people sustained and provided for themselves. This information has been stored in a unique database that has been made accessible for researchers, students, and the general public. The database and the research project use the verb-oriented method which in turn is inspired by time-use studies (advocated by the UN).
Thousands of encrypted manuscripts are found in archives all over Europe, documents that are not yet available for historical research. Examples of such materials are diplomatic and military correspondence and intelligence reports, magical and scientific writings, private letters and diaries, as well as manuscripts related to secret societies. Many scholars and scientists are working on some of these documents in a completely uncoordinated fashion, and from different and complementary areas such as history, linguistics, philology, computer science, and computational linguistics, all with their own point of view, purpose and methods. They encounter the same or similar problems when confronted with encrypted documents. Whereas various algorithms and tools have been developed to decipher the most common forms of encryption, most of these are not suitable to deal with historical, hand-written encrypted documents that don’t use standardized methods, are often hybrid in nature, and are not available in machine-readable form. The aim of the project is to bring the expertise of these different disciplines together, to digitize and process the historical encrypted sources and release these through a database with information about provenance and other facts of relevance. We focus on the development of software tools for automatic or semi-automatic analysis and decryption of various types of encrypted documents, by employing linguistic universals and formal methods.
Contact: Beáta Megyesi
The purpose of this project is to make a holistic analysis of contemporary bestsellers by combining different methods (distant and close, inductive and deductive, probabilistic and historic-empiric), materials (text data, metadata, reader data), and theoretical perspectives (publishing studies, computational criticism, media theory). Three formats for bestsellers – hardbound, paperback, audiobooks – will be analysed and discussed. By using literary materials as key empirical ground in a study of contemporary publishing, the ambition is to bridge the gap between studies of cultural production and content. The project brings the scale of statistical text analysis to book history and at the same time provides a concrete interpretational frame of publishing studies to literary distant readings. The analysis of reader behaviour data will give unique knowledge on reading patterns in contemporary book trade.
Contact: Karl Berglund
CHRONOS – CHRONOLOGY OF ROOTS AND NODES OF FAMILY TREES: FINE-TUNING THE INSTRUMENTS OF LINGUISTIC DATING
The project aims to explore the possibilities of dating ancestral stages of language families by a systematic and careful study of the stability and replacement patterns of different types of linguistic data. Toward this aim, the project has chosen to look at the language families Indo-European (Eurasia) as well as Arawakan and Tupí (South America). The ability to date ancestral linguistic stages would be a revolutionary step forward for understanding language and population history, parallel to carbon-14 dating in archaeology. Even a less precise method than carbon-14 would be a significant achievement for linking ancestral linguistic stages to other disciplines such as archaeology, genetics and geoclimatology. Classic glottochronology, which assumes a constant rate of lexical replacement, has long been discredited. However, even if lexical replacement rates are not constant, they are also not totally random. Moreover, other aspects of language may show tighter regularity than lexicon since lexicon is amenable to conscious manipulation; indeed, word taboo is one of the reasons for accelerated lexical replacement, but so far there has been little research into grammatical chronology, which is an important aim of this project. Now, however, the time is ripe for a systematic investigation into linguistic dating. Far more data is available, and large linguistic databases have become practical to use. Similarly, methodological advances, often imported from biology, presently allow for a more thorough exploitation of the data. The project involves collaboration with Lund University. The project is funded by the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg foundation (MaW 2017.0050).
Swedish Caribbean colonialism 1784–1878. Integrating, classifying, publishing and investigating dispersed Swedish colonial archives
Sweden became a slave nation when the Caribbean island of Saint Barthélemy was taken into possession in 1785. The island was sold to France in 1878 and the entire Swedish government archive was left on the island. This Swedish archive, the Fonds Suédois de Saint Barthélemy contains c. 300.000 manuscript pages –– and is in the French colonial archives in Aix-en-Provence. It is closed to both researchers and the public. The project is based on the successful digitization of this archive (2011–2016) and makes this the largest Swedish colonial archive available via the Internet together with other collections of Swedish Caribbean documents in the Swedish National Archives and foreign collections.
Contact: Fredrik Thomasson
More about Swedish Caribbean Colonialism 1784–1878
How is cultural knowledge passed down through generations? Which processes promotes the fidelity of transmission of written or oral texts over longer or shorter times? And are there regularities in the processes of change that they undergo? This project takes a mixed methods approach to analyse how religious and instructional texts are passed down through time. Among the religious texts represented are the ancient liturgies of Zoroastrianism. These originate from oral traditions dating back about 2500 years. The Apophthegmata patrum, collections of sayings of the Christian church fathers, likewise belong to a tradition of many centuries. These writings have been copied, edited and translated over and over again. Instructional texts are collected from, among others, a corpus of cookbooks that span several centuries. By examining how these types of texts change, the research project will contribute to an in-depth understanding of how cultural knowledge develops and is renegotiated over time. The research project brings together researchers with expertise in different types of text traditions with researchers working within computer science and phylogenetic frameworks. This unique collaboration is expected to contribute to the development of new methods for phylogenetic network analysis of linguistic and cultural evolution.
Contact: Michael Dunn
Cuneiform is one of the oldest scripts in human history and among the largest bodies of historical documentation from the ancient world. Rough estimates suggest the total word count of all cuneiform records to outmatch those of Egypt and Rome by a considerable margin. Cuneiform writing was widely used across the Middle East for over three millennia, from c. 3400 BCE to 100 CE. Written primarily on clay, cuneiform texts are preserved in larger numbers than virtually any other type of written media. This project assembles and analyses a full digital record of this corpus drawing on recent advances in digital humanities and geospatial data mapping. As a first quantifiable and corpus-wide study of one of the greatest corpora of historical records from the ancient world, it will provide a benchmark example of the application of digital and spatial computing tools to the study of writing in early human history.
More about GLoW
Contact: Clelia LaMonica
The Gift Project
Museums serve as our collective memory, preserving and interpreting our shared culture and identity. The central challenge of the GIFT project is to create designs that facilitate meaningful interpersonal experiences. GIFT focusses on hybrid experiences, realised through mixed reality designs that overlay physical visits with digital content as a way to complement, challenge or reframe the experience of museum visits.
The department of Informatics and Media participates in the project in the role of theory lead. Based primarily in discourse theory and pragmatic design theory, our role is to document and articulate the knowledge contributions that emerge from the practical design and evaluation work within the project, and that help us understand how hybrid museum experiences are designed and experienced. Within the project, we also experiment with a range of methods to make rather abstract theories accessible to the kind of interdisciplinary design teams that typically take on the challenge of creating these kinds of museum experiences.
Contact: Annika Waern
More about The GIFT Project
SWEGRAM aims to provide a tool for text analysis in Swedish and English. You can upload one or several texts and annotate them at different linguistic levels with morphological and syntactic information. The annotated texts can then be used to extract statistics about the text properties with respect to text length, number of words, readability measures, part-of-speech, and much more.
Contact: Beáta Megyesi
More about SWEGRAM