Lutten in a baobab. Sahara-Sudan Mission (1935) © Bibliothèque Éric-de-Dampierre, MAE

What is the cluster ?

The cluster of excellence, Pasts in the present is a collective research initiative that combines partners from academia as well as heritage institutions. The different rubrics may be consulted to learn more about how they function.

Mediations of history and digital humanities

What uses for which pasts? Which pasts for what uses? These mirrored questions are political, cultural, social, epistemological, and technical in nature. They tie into the major contemporary challenges surrounding mediation in the digital age, both for scholarly and social uses: virtual museums, digital access to historical sources, modeling the data of cultural heritage, transforming the scholarly reading of ancient texts, creating oral archives for the 21st century. These collectively formed questions have underpinned the scientific program of the Cluster The Pasts in the Present: History, Heritage, Memory for nearly three years, and they mobilize all of the plurality and richness of the humanities and social sciences.

United in their effort to build knowledge together, the eleven research teams and partnering heritage institutions constituting the Cluster are spearheading some forty research projects and actions. These projects vary in scope from hyper-local to international. Welcoming foreign doctoral students and researchers, the Cluster extends beyond the Hexagon, thanks to (a) international collaborative dynamics of the research teams and (b) the framework of a structuring partnership, initiated in 2014 with the British Care for the Future-AHRC program. Leading several investigations and studies of a national scope, Pasts in the Present is also fully attuned to its surroundings, in terms of both its research interests and its partnerships with local communities and non-profits. The Cluster is interested in intertwined temporalities, contrasted historical and commemorative narratives and their effects, transformations and migrations of representations, materiality of the past and its vestiges, immateriality of know-how and knowing-how-to-be, the dematerialized circulation of collections. Pasts in the Present seeks to tease out the linkages between history, heritage, and memory.