E – Concepts and digital tools, fields and disciplines in global history

Between the spatial and the digital turn: Challenges for scholars, publishers and funding agencies in global and transnational history

Event Details

  • Date

    Sunday, 28 June - 9:00 – 11:00

  • Venue
  • Theme
    E – Concepts and digital tools, fields and disciplines in global history
  • Ninja Steinbach-Hüther (Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography)
  • Steffi Marung (Leipzig University)
  • Ninja Steinbach-Hüther (Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography)
  • Steffi Marung (Leipzig University)
  • Mikko Tolonen (University of Helsinki)
  • Philippe Chevallier (Bibliothèque nationale de France)
  • Rabea Rittgerodt (DeGruyter)
  • Wendel Scholma (Brill Publishers)
  • Catherine Berry (Adam Matthew Digital)



While two further panel proposals connected to this roundtable (Steinbach-Hüther: Spatial Semantics and DH and Middell/ Marung: Spatial Literacy and DH) will provide insights into conceptual challenges for the encounter between DH, global history, spatial history, and geography, this roundtable focusses on the practical and institutional dimensions of this contact. It brings together representatives of research institutes specializing in digital history, publishing houses, libraries and funding agencies. Digitization in many spheres of present-day society has not only contributed to the rise of DH as a contact zone between computer and information sciences and the humanities, but provoked new questions about the storage and accessibility, valorization and presentation, dissemination and communication of research data and findings. Not only has this trend contributed to the emergence of digital archives and new forms of analyzing their material, novel forms of (geospatial) visualizations together with new research questions, hypotheses, interpretations and arguments based on this digital scholarship, but also inspired innovative forms of producing, communicating and publishing this knowledge. While these questions have gained relevance for many disciplinary communities during the last decade, they pose both a particular challenge and an opportunity for global and transnational history. In these fields, “data” is mobilized, combined and communicated from diverse historical, linguistic and cultural contexts. Multi-sitedness and multi-perspectivity characterize research practices challenging spatial containers and the trans- and international scholarly communication is particularly strong in this field. Digitization may here offer solutions to facilitate (and reduce costs for) multi-sited and transregional research as well as the communication of its results across national and disciplinary boundaries. At the same time, global and transnational historians have to develop a critical reflection about (and propose answers to) the limits, gaps and inequalities digitization may produce in new ways. Against this background, the roundtable seeks to address a number of questions that concern publishers, research organizations, archives, libraries and scholars in different ways: Which kind of digital and research “data” are we actually talking about in the field of global and transnational history? In which languages are digital archives accessible and ready to be processed? Who finances which digitization project and who selects the material for them? Which digital tools and by whom help to process the data? Who is able to offer open access of data and publications and which consequences does this have for career developments in different academic traditions? Which consequences does this have for publishing research findings and how do publishing houses need to adapt to the new challenges of data accessibility, data providing, data visualization etc.? How to create viable infrastructures for intra- and inter-disciplinary communication between DH, computer sciences, global and transnational history etc. and for transnational/ transregional communication across unequal digital landscapes? How to deal with authorship and copy-right issues in these collaborative research areas? How to integrate spatial reflexivity into these new infrastructures and methodologies? Which are the technical, organizational and financial challenges emerging from these complexities?