The COVID-19 pandemic is an event whose historic dimension is immediately obvious. Comparisons with the Spanish flu at the end of the First World War and the (uniquely Western) assessment that it is the greatest crisis since the Second World War are on everyone’s lips. Luxembourg’s state of emergency has led to unprecedented restrictions in our private and professional lives.
With the online platform covidmemory.lu, the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C2DH) at the University of Luxembourg offers all people living or working in Luxembourg the opportunity to share their experiences and preserve them for future generations. Anyone can upload photos, videos or texts to this open and free web-based platform, allowing us to document how the pandemic has changed our lives. How do we manage our family life with or without social distancing? How does teleworking change our professional lives? How do people and their environments cope with the disease? How does school function via digital education? What are our representations of pandemics and epidemics? How do we inform and educate ourselves? These are just some of the questions we aim to explore by collecting the experiences of those living and working in Luxembourg.
We are interested in a wide range of media: posters, warnings or orders, emails, newspaper and magazine articles, shopping lists and reports, but also personal photos, drawings, voice messages, songs and videos, and chats or posts from social media. We invite participants to share their memories on our platform to form part of a collection that will reflect the COVID-19 crisis in Luxembourg in all its dimensions.
The platform will collect local knowledge and perceptions of the COVID-19 crisis to learn more about the “uncomfortable realities of quarantine measures”, as the WHO describes our collective experience in its coronavirus research roadmap. With the intervention of a team of curators drawn from C²DH experts, #covidmemory will engage with different communities, seek to understand how they make sense of the crisis and bring their voices to decision-making processes.
The #covidmemory project is inspired by the “Rapid Response Collecting” approach that has been used in digital public history and museum circles as a way to collect the stories, material culture, digital creations and ephemera of historical events as Hurricane Katrina (hurricanearchive.org) or the 2015 terrorist attacks in France (www.memoire13novembre.fr).
Key experts within the C²DH will lead the #covidmemory effort. The initial team includes:
Design and development: Daniele Guido, Robert Beta, Paul Schroeder, Sean Takats
Curators: Estelle Bunout, Cécile Duval, Marco Gabellini, Stefanie Kesteloot, François Klein, Laurence Maufort, Victoria Mouton, Beth Park, Werner Tschacher and Lorella Viola
Leadership: Christoph Brüll, Stefan Krebs (PI), Sean Takats (Co-PI) and Lars Wieneke
Many thanks to the design and development team and our curators for getting the platform online in the shortest possible time.