Call of Paper: Heritage in the Age of Digital Humanities : How should training, France

French National Archives (Pierrefitte, near Paris)
Deadline: Mar 2, 2012
Heritage in the Age of Digital Humanities : How should training
practices evolve?
21, 22, 23 June 2012
French National Archives (Pierrefitte, near Paris)
Université Paris 8.
Training in heritage issues has always been closely dependent on how
heritage itself is defined. After the French Revolution, museums were
regarded as contributing to public education and developing notions of
citizenship, so when the École du Louvre opened in 1882 it was given
the responsibility of training "curators, missionaries and
 The purpose of promoting national history lay behind
the creation of The École des Chartes in 1821 and the French Board of
Inspectors of Historic Monuments in 1830. After natural heritage became
a matter of interest in 1906, the French National Horticultural School
opened in 1945 (it was replaced in 1976 by the National School for
Landscaping at Versailles in 1976). The National Heritage Institute,
which opened in 1990, and the French National School for Information
Technology and Libraries, 1992, both testify to changes in training
programs, in response to evolutions in the field of heritage that made
it necessary for future curators to acquire new technical and
managerial skills. Teaching programs have also had to come to terms
with evolving notions of heritage, as recorded in a series of UNESCO
conventions – from the Convention Concerning the Protection of the
World Cultural and Natural Heritage in 1972 to the Convention for the
Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2003 and the Charter on
the Preservation of Digital Heritage the same year.
The effects of digital technology on the social organization of
information are now sufficiently recognized to enable analysis of their
implications for professional skills and practices and to encourage
investigations into the ensuing changes in relations between heritage
institutions (museums, archives, libraries, heritage sites) and the
Two issues at least are at stake here. The first is the digitalization
of heritage and its effects. The second is the very definition of
digital heritage. They are of interest to heritage institutions and
higher education and research alike.
New practices are being put into place. These relate to the skills
involved in the field of documentation, to how digital documents are
published and communicated to the public, and to how digital data and
documentation are exploited, preserved and conserved within the
institutions themselves. However, the effect, both on long-standing
institutional responsibilities and on the changing environment of
training programs in heritage issues, has not yet been properly thought
through. In this context, there is an urgent need to consider how far
the norms, instruments and practices governing the creation and
management of digital documents by institutions are open to evolving
practices in the public environment of the World Wide Web. Furthermore,
it is important to take into account the fact that digital
documentation is also playing a major role in changes in practice
currently being implemented in universities and research institutes.
Our conference proposes to consider both the new issues facing training
programs in the heritage industries and the transformations taking
place on a wider scale in university and research cultures. Digital
humanities suggest a new approach for studying the relations between
the way heritage is defined and the manner in which digital resources
circulate and are appropriated, and how they are absorbed into society.
Four conference streams are planned to tackle these issues.
Stream n° 1: Investigating the epistemology of the concept of heritage
in the 21st century.
What are the criteria according to which "digital heritage" can be
established as a new category? Is it just a matter of identifying
documents, whether digitally-born or converted into digital formats,
that lay claim to the attention both of heritage institutions and their
conservation policies, and of social groups and communities? To
consider heritage in this way is to view it as the result of
legitimating processes. However, this involves setting aside what might
be described as the open dynamics involved in the making and
transformation of heritage – something that digital media bring to the
forefront, to the extent that they blur the distinctions between an
object, its documentation and its distribution. The concept of digital
heritage has a heuristic value insofar as it brings together heritage
theory and the question of reproduction. The culture of digital
networks makes it necessary to rethink Benjamin's categories.
What will be the impact of these issues on training programs? How does
the notion of digital heritage challenge traditional disciplinary
boundaries, both from an institutional point of view and with regard to
the production of knowledge? What effect will digital heritage have on
professional training and doctoral programs? Should technology be
approached in terms of new skills or should it be recognized as
instituting a digital culture?
Stream n°2: The production, distribution and appropriation of digital
The digitalization of heritage is motivated by considerations of public
interest, involving the conservation (documentation and preservation)
of source objects and the organization of resources targeting the
public. However, the criteria governing what is to be digitalized are
much less clear.
Compliance of data and documents with accessibility and
interoperability standards (metadata, encoding, etc.), as required by
developments in digital environments, is improving. However, issues
regarding the use and appropriation of the various levels of
documentation produced by archives, libraries and museums give rise to
conflicting interpretations.
Digital publication in any medium involves questions of data
structuring, the use of documentary languages and the design of user
interfaces. The push to put entire collections on-line ensures that
documentary resources have a major role to play in the way
documentation is exploited, especially in an academic context. What is
to be done with the increasing glut of documentation? What interfaces
are required – and for what professional uses? Furthermore, current
developments in connection with Web 2.0 are redefining relations
between institutions and their audiences and destabilizing the core
expert practices of heritage institutions. What room is there for new
indexing practices (folksonomies)?
Stream n° 3: Heritage institutions, teaching and research: inventing
new forms of digital publication.
New forms of digital publication are emerging. Different way to access
specific documentary corpuses are being tested, in response to a
variety of research requirements, including the treatment of large
masses of data and documents, visualization, knowledge presentation,
timelines and dynamical spatialization. The means of accessing and
publishing documents are being constantly renewed and complexified.
Research practices in heritage institutions and higher education are
being brought up to date, assuming new forms and provoking changes in
the ways researchers and experts collaborate. Heritage institutions
have a knowledge-producing function, which has led a number of them to
engage in the production of digital materials from their own resources
but also from pooled documentary resources. They facilitate the
exploitation of a given corpus, in response to requests from research
teams. Such agreements go beyond putting digital sources at the
disposal of interested parties. They imply partnerships between
heritage institutions and research communities.
How can these new forms of cooperation between curators, archivists and
librarians, engineers, technicians, researchers in the humanities and
social sciences, be conceptualized, given that they involve
institutions and professional bodies, as well as individuals with
different skills and cultures? The development of new publishing
strategies requires space for experimentation. It needs openness to new
ideas. How will institutions make room for all this? How are training
programs in heritage-related professions and doctoral programs in human
and social sciences responding to these new perspectives?
Stream n° 4: New economic and legal models.
Digitalization is creating new working conditions in heritage
professions. The structure of digital projects involves a variety of
professional bodies. However, no clear norms exist. What benchmarks
could be used as guidelines for setting up cultural projects in digital
environments? The Europeana project gives an insight into the changes
in working conditions currently underway, and into their legal
implications, especially with regard to intellectual property.
Digitalization also requires new financial reources. New models are
emerging. These involve both new forms of public investment and
public-private initiatives, in which the responsibilities of the public
sector must be safeguarded. How do the issues raised by Open Data
impinge on digital heritage? Heritage institutions are by definition
knowledge-producing institutions. Have they not also become a service
industry within the economy of the Web, existing alongside search
engines but also in competition with them?
The conference welcomes submissions from professionals working in
heritage institutions or the heritage service sector, as well as from
academics involved in heritage programs and scholars in the humanities
and social sciences with an interest in digital culture.
Deadlines and practical information:
- March 2, 2012: deadline for submissions of not more than 1000 words
(+ bibliography). These should be sent to
and should include a cover page containing the following information:
name, title, professional function and institution of author and/or
contributors; postal and e-mail address, phone and fax numbers;
- March 30, 2012: communication of the program committee's decisions;
- June 1, 2012: deadline for submitting completed papers. It is planned
to publish conference papers.
Program committee:
Labex Arts H2H:
Yves Abrioux, Paris 8
Denis Bruckmann,BnF
Bernadette Dufrene, Paris 8
Madjid Ihadjadene, Paris 8
Remi Labrusse, Paris10
Elsa Marguin, Archives nationales
Isabelle Moindrot, Paris 8
Ghislaine Chartron
Dominique Ferriot
Manuel Zacklad
Ecole de restauration et de conservation des biens culturels d'Alger :
Nacéra Benseddik
Institut national du Patrimoine:
Gennaro Toscano
Institut du Patrimoine, Tunis:
Soumaya Gharsallah
Université de Laval:
Philippe Dubé
Milad Doueihi
Université Paris1:
Corinne Welger
Université de Poitiers :
Nabila Oulebsir
Organizing committee:
Marie-Cécile Bouju, Paris 8, Bernadette Dufrene, Paris 8, Elsa Marguin,
Archives nationales,Axel Bourgeois, Paris 8, Muriel Flicoteaux,
Benjamin Barbier.