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, my focus is on the epistemological implications of using new technologies in historical research, in the present as well as the past. As for the present, I am especially interested in the politics of digitisation and digitised cultural heritage, seen from a global perspective. At the same time, I see this as but one aspect (a key one to be sure) of the much broader question of how technology has always shaped, framed and constrainted historical research and thereby affected historical knowledge production.
My current book project thus explores the history and genealogies of digital history, set within the broader context of the ways in which technology has shaped historical research practices and knowledge production since the late 19th century.
A smaller side project focuses on a (partly digital) reconstruction of the history of Yiddish publishing and press history, (self-)learning and education in Germany, especially Berlin, since the late 19th century. In this project I combine my interests in Jewish migration history and Yiddish, and digital history. This project is concerned with Jewish histories of knowledge, especially its transnational migrant dimensions.
I am also the project lead and one of the editors of the portal #DHJewish - Jewish Studies and Digital Humanities.
Previously, I worked as a researcher at the Public History Research and Consultancy Center of the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. I then studied Yiddish at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, before embarking upon my PhD research project at the the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence. I then 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, Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Between 2013-2017, I worked as a research fellow in the project The diaries of Anne Frank. Research—Translations— Critical Edition at the Lichtenberg Kolleg, the Institute of Advanced Study at the University of Göttingen, where I was responsible for the annotations of a new critical scholarly edition of the diaries and conducted research on Jews in hiding in the Netherlands.
My first book Jewish volunteers, the International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War was published with Bloomsbury Academic in April 2017.
I 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.
On behalf of C²DH I also serve on the Ethics Review Panel (ERP) of the University of Luxembourg.