Gerben Zaagsma holds a Ph.D. in modern history from the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence. His main research and teaching interests are modern Jewish history, digital history, and music history.
Within the context of digital history he is particularly interested in the epistemological implications of using new technologies in historical research, as well as the politics of digitisation and digitised cultural heritage. He is also the project lead and one of the editors of the portal #DHJewish - Jewish Studies and Digital Humanities.
Gerben currently works on two main research projects, both of which focus on different aspects of the history of knowledge:
- A new book project explores the history and genealogies of digital history, set within the broader context of the ways in which technology has shaped historical research practices since the late 19th century.
- A second project focuses on a (partly digital) reconstruction of the history of Yiddish publishing, (self-)learning and education in Germany, especially Berlin, since the late 19th century. This project is concerned with Jewish histories of knowledge, especially its transnational migrant dimensions.
Gerben previously worked as a researcher at the Public History Research and Consultancy Center of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. He studied Yiddish at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, before embarking upon his PhD research project at the EUI.
He was a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University College London and an editor, web developer & researcher at the Huygens Institute for the History of The Netherlands, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Between 2013-2017, Gerben worked as a research fellow in the project The diaries of Anne Frank. Research—Translations— Critical Edition at the former Lichtenberg Kolleg, the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of Göttingen, where he was responsible for the annotations of a new critical scholarly edition of the diaries and conducted research on Jews in hiding in the Netherlands.
Gerben’s book Jewish volunteers, the International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War was published with Bloomsbury Academic in April 2017.
He joined the C²DH in August 2017 and was Head of the Research Area Digital History & Historiography until December 2020, when it merged with the center’s DHARPA team.
Gerben also serves on the Ethics Review Panel (ERP) of the University of Luxembourg on behalf of the C²DH.