Research report

The C²DH focuses on research, analysis, public dissemination and engagement in the field of contemporary Luxembourgish and European history. The Centre has a particular focus on digital methods and tools for contemporary history and serves as a catalyst for innovative and creative scholarship as well as new forms of public dissemination and societal engagement.

The interdisciplinary and digital workflow of the Centre is inspired by the concept of “thinkering”, which promotes a hands-on approach to new digital sources, tools and infrastructures for the practice of history while critically assessing the impact of digital tools and technologies on historical research. This innovative approach encourages researchers to explore the multiple avenues opened up by the advent of the digital age, ranging from new methods for the exploration of historical sources, data storage, curation, analysis and visualisation to transmedia storytelling online. A Digital Humanities Lab facilitates this hands-on research through a broad range of audiovisual equipment and digital tools. In 2019, 14 new projects were launched and there was an increase in the number of peer-reviewed articles and books published. The Centre also participates in teaching programmes at Bachelor and Master level at the University of Luxembourg.

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The C²DH hosts students from the Doctoral School in Humanities and Social Sciences, part of the University of Luxembourg’s Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. The “Digital History & Hermeneutics” Doctoral Training Unit (DTU), a four-year interdisciplinary research and training programme funded by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR), was set up to explore the methodological and epistemological challenges of research and teaching in the realm of digital humanities in general and digital history in particular. In 2019, 6 PhDs were launched, 23 were ongoing and 3 were completed.

One of the current priorities of the C²DH is to boost third-party funding. Preparing research proposals is therefore an important part of researchers’ work. Strategic applications to programmes such as the FNR’s PEARL and ATTRACT, aimed at attracting high-potential researchers, have been submitted and a great number of projects have been made possible thanks to the support provided by the FNR. In addition, the C²DH has successfully developed a business model for contractual research which combines fundamental research with the development of innovative public history outputs. Major contractual research agreements have been signed with both public institutions (the Ministry of State, the Ministry of Justice, the Société nationale des chemins de fer luxembourgeois (CFL), POST Luxembourg, STATEC, etc.) and private companies (BNP Paribas, La Lux, etc.). The C²DH has also developed partnerships with important stakeholders in the field of cultural heritage institutions (the Archives nationales, the Bibliothèque nationale, the Centre national de l’audiovisuel and various museums) and EU institutions (such as the European Court of Justice, the European Parliament and the EU Archives in Florence). Initial contacts with industrial stakeholders including RTL/Bertelsmann and ArcelorMittal have been made with the aim of setting up sponsored chairs in media history and industrial heritage. The C²DH will be a key partner in the Esch2022: European Capital of Culture initiative.

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Alongside strategic partnerships, international collaboration is mainly driven by collaborative research projects and the organisation of academic conferences. The most important partners in 2019 were the Trier Center for Digital Humanities, Saarland University and the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Sorbonne Université, the University of Picardy Jules Verne, the École des hautes études en sciences sociales (Paris) and the Centre international de recherche de l’Historial de la Grande Guerre (CIRHGG, Péronne) in France, the Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, the University of Zurich and the Università della Svizzera Italiana in Switzerland as well as the German Historical Institute Washington.

In 2019, the C²DH carried out a self-evaluation commissioned by the University of Luxembourg to assess its activities since its foundation in 2017. This was an excellent opportunity to reflect on the Centre’s strategic approach over the past 30 months and how this approach has been implemented. While the Centre has undoubtedly taken up many challenges and generated significant academic and outreach results, while maintaining the pioneering spirit of its early days, this self-assessment process stimulated collective reflection on the future strategic development of the Centre, facilitating the identification of opportunities for collaborative initiatives at national and international level and ways of strengthening the C²DH’s ability to become an international hub for digital history from a global perspective.