Beyond Methods of Mining


Across Europe, there has been much focus on digitizing historical collections and on developing digital tools to take advantage of those collections. What has been lacking, however, is a discussion of how the research results provided by such tools should be used as a part of historical research projects. Although many developers have solicited input from researchers, discussion between historians has been thus far limited.

The workshop seeks to explore how results of digital research should be used in historical research and to address questions about the validity of digitally mined evidence and its interpretation. In order to stimulate discussion on this subject we seek contributions that discuss how researchers can ensure the relevance of digitally mined evidence to larger historical questions and/or how digital history projects might be better integrated into the field of ‘traditional’ history scholarship. Thus we are not looking for discussions of the way that particular digital tools work, or how to visualize digitally produced data, but for discussions of how to effectively combine digital methods with established historical methods. Some discussion of methods is undoubtedly necessary, but each paper’s focus should be on the analysis and use of results rather than solely on methods of text mining.

This two-day workshop was organized by Asymmetrical Encounters.

Full programe

Monday 14 September (location: La Place Conference Centre) 

12.30 Arrival, Lunch

13.30 Welcome and Introductions

13.45-14.45 Session 1: 18th and 19th Century

James Baker, University of Sussex: Acts of being in proxies for prints. People in the British Museum catalogue of Political and Personal Satire, 1770-1830

Ian Gregory, Lancaster University: Spatial Humanities: texts, GIS places and public health in 19thcentury Britain

14.45 Coffee Break

15.00-16.30 Session 2: 19th and 20th Century

Amelia Joulain Jay, Lancaster University: Exploring Victorian British attitudes towards France and Russia. The Era, 1840-1899

Tessa Hauswedell, University College London:  Reporting the Empire. The Pall Mall Gazette, 1870-1900.

M. Erdem Kabadayi, Instanbul Bilgi University and Murat Güvenç, Kadir Has University: Revisting an old yet unsettled research question in Ottoman historiography: was there an ethno religious division of labour in the multi-ethnic, multi religious Empire?

16.30 Coffee Break

17.00-18.00 Professor Jane Winters, Institute of Historical Research, Public Keynote Lecture: What is digital history?

18.00 Drinks

19.00 Conference Dinner

Tuesday 15 September (Sweelinckzaal, Drift 21, 00.5)

9.15-10.45 Session 3: Contemporary

Paul van Trigt, Utrecht University: Microhistory and Big Data. Rewriting a History of Disability by Mixed Methods

Maarten van den Bos, Utrecht University: Unsupervised walks. Youth, mass culture and the changing future of society in Dutch public discourse, 1945-1965

Dino Mujadzevic, Ruhr University Bochum:  Measuring Turkish influence in Bosnia? Corpus-assisted history of media discourses on Turkey in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2002-2014)

10.45 Coffee break

11.00-12.00 Session 4: Theory

Pim van Bree and Geert Kessels, LAB1100: An exploration of arguments on digital scholarship

Hermione Giffard, Utrecht University: Mining Newspapers. A Plea for Significance

12.00 Discussion, Future Projects, Closing Comments

12.30 Conference Close



Monday: La Place Conference Centre, Rijnkade 5

The La Place Conference Centre is located on the top floor of the Vroom and Dreesmann department store in Hoog Catharijne shopping centre. Arriving at Utrecht Central Station, simply follow the signs Hoog Catharijne/city centre. Walk straight through the shopping centre. Just before the exit you will find the V&D on your right hand side. Go into the store, walk straight through towards the elevators. The RIGHT one will take you up to the fifth floor, where the La Place Conference Centre is located.

Coming from the City Centre, simply walk towards the ‘Vredenburg’ square (follow signs Hoog Catharijne/Central Station) and enter the shopping centre. You will find the V&D on your left hand side. Due to construction work, the main entrance on Vredenburg square might be closed. If so, simply walk straight ahead and take the first entrance on your right hand side.

If you have any problems finding the location, please do not hesitate to call Maarten: 0031 (0)6-24204751 or Hermione 0031 (0)6-37251871. A map can be found here:


Tuesday: Sweelinckzaal, Drift 21, 00.5

Drift 21 is located in the city centre and is part of the University’s downtown campus. Please note, the building can only be entered via Drift 27, the University Library. Coming from Utrecht Central Station, walk through Hoog Catharijne shopping centre again and exit the mall at Vredenburg Square. Detailed directions can be found here:


Conference Fee:

Please note that the conference fee of 30 euro’s (60 including diner) can be paid in cash at the beginning of the workshop. We will then provide you with a receipt for payment and participation if needed. If at all possible, we kindly ask you to bring the exact amount. Attendance of the public lecture by Jane Winters is free of charge.