The inevitable linear presentation of the LabEx’s projects does not necessarily do justice to the numerous bridges and interactions between the projects, the processes of mutually beneficial sedimentation and aggregation. At the mid-point, the LabEx PP presents itself a linked network of research with its rhizomes, its plural centralities, its cascading dynamics. From two founding themes, the collective project has broadened, deepened, diversified, and internationalized.
Three operational modalities encompassing the consolidation of the object of major research and knowledge of the presence of the past(s) in the present in the digital age much be reiterated:
- The inter-institutional approach that enables academic research professional and professionals from cultural institutions to work together to define and to drive research projects.
- The interdisciplinary approach, a veritable research aspiration for the LabEx, operates on many different levels, from the definition of research questions, for which pluralized knowledge is mobilized, to the creation of investigative methods or the twin description and analysis of data.
- The international dimension, expanded since 2014. It is firmly anchored in the developed Franco-British partnership with the Care for the Future program (8 common projects selected from the 2015 call for projects; co-financed by the Arts and Humanities Research Council at the level of 800,000€; 2 research workshops in 2015; 3 scheduled for 2016-2018). Aiming to structure networks, the international dimension is unfurled across the research in Europe, Latin America, and in the Middle East.
To make the link between the LabEx’s initial program, as approved by the ANR in 2012, and the current scientific project, the following presentation resumes the 2 founding projects now unfolding along 4 themes.
The Forms of Representation in every Period
This research theme focuses on the way humans, societies, and political authorities have depicted the past at different periods and in different spaces, and how these depictions have been used. This theme comprises two sections that have been expanded following the call for research proposals in 2013.
Highly internationalised, it involves several postdoctoral researchers across different Graduate programmes and renews the themes on which researchers and heritage professionals have been working so far. Compared to other research projects concerning the same issues, on the one hand, the theme is including questions specific to Digital Humanities and, on the other, by the wide perspectives that it open on: studies on long-term temporality, necessary to the comprehension of the re-writing of history through alterations or oblivion, cross-sectional approaches, plurality of the fields of research regarding one very object of research, multiphased research including elements of methodological experimentation.
The Forms of Representation in every Period
This first theme focuses on ancient historiographies, comparative studies of representation, historiographies of memory, and heritage institutions’ uses of memory, policies of commemoration, and the underlying motivations.
Bringing together art history, archeology, history, philology, translation, and the history and sociology of memory, the research projects on this theme produce comparative and transversal perspectives between different eras, e.g., Antiquity and Modern period, or between different spaces at a given period.
The Effects of the Mediation of History and of the Mediation of Past
In this chapter sociologists, anthropologists, ethnologists, communication scholars, legal scholars, and specialists from archives and digital libraries come together to identify avenues of future research and different teams to direct the work of renewing the reception studies from cultural heritage institutions and to focus on the various modes of appropriating the past.
Active Knowledge of the Past: Tools and
Practices of Transmission
This second research theme of Pasts in the Present ponders the dynamics governing the production and online availability of historical and cultural heritage resources.
Some projects renew the academic reading of past events while others write differently about the events in order to reach a wider audience. All the projects are united by Modeling, Frames of Reference, and Digital Culture, but two main topics have come to stand out.
New Sources, New Practices ?
The projects in this rubrique shed a new light on the histories of immigration, decolonization, and territory. They propose a method for collecting, archiving, and editing data that would enable scientific researchers to reuse collections and nourish public debate. Several projects specifically focus on the space of Nanterre and on the Hauts-de-Seine, and most are jointly carried out with non-profit associations. They are all part of a professional master’s program and they bring together historians, ethnologists and ethnomusicologists, sociologists, geographers and urban developers, library and archive professionals, and documentary directors. These projects generate exhibitions, web-documentaries, and curated urban walking paths.
History, Heritage, Memory: New Access and New Perspectives
This major section of the program aims to give access to sources (plural and disseminated) in order to achieve an “active” historical knowledge of the past. It gathers a dozen projects where different academic (researchers, engineers, technicians) and heritage professionals (curators and librarians) converge, to create new toolsto help the scholarly community and a less specialized audience, thus opening up new perspectives. At stake is the modeling of data coming from partners that use different terms in the framework of the Linked Open Data (LOD). As previously announced in the scientific program, the questions posed are technological, but also political and epistemological. This is a major project: it is where new methods and practices are brought to the fore, where the joint development of knowledge in a digital culture is thought through.