CfP 16th annual HEIRS Conference

Capturing Europe in Digital Sources: New Approaches for European Integration History?

Luxembourg, 28-29 May, 2020

Over the last decades, calls to “provincialise” the historiography of Europe have shaped the historiographical debate and led to new perspectives on the history of European integration (Patel 2018, François and Serrier, 2017). Digital approaches might offer historians the opportunity to do just that. With the digitisation of historical materials, such as the press, historians may broaden the scope of the classical source corpus in European historiography, by relying for instance on keyword search and collecting an ample range of press articles dealing with Europe, as Florian Greiner did in 2014. To provide another example, Frédéric Clavert in his project UNSURE resorted to digitally born archives of newsgroups to analyse the discussions on Europe in the 1990s-2000s, to shed light on the opposition to European integration outside of mass media. These examples display significant efforts to meet the challenges of European integration historiography and led us to invite young researchers and PhD students to share their research using digitised/digital sources or digital tools on European integration history:

How can the digitisation of sources and digital tools help face the challenge of ‘capturing Europe’?

The sources produced by European institutions have increasingly been made available online. The European Union institutions have engaged in the digitisation of their archives and made them available online, as well as the Archive of European Integration (AEI) based at the University of Pittsburgh (USA). The CVCE collection (Centre Virtuel pour la Connaissance sur l’Europe – Virtual Resource Centre for Knowledge about Europe) has selected archives of European integration and made them available online for scholars and students to use. Beyond EU archives, European platforms of digitised sources like Europeana have shown how difficult it can be to overcome the national silos, but also how the annotation with metadata can help searching in multilingual collections.

Digital and digitised materials open historical sources to be computationally processed, enhanced and analysed with digital tools. Some attempts have already been undertaken to use automatic classification tools to help navigate unclassified EU digitised archives (Hengchen et alii, 2016). The datification of historical sources also opens the possibility to prepare them (or their annotations) for visualisation of networks (see the work of Martin Grandjean), or “distant reading” of large collections (for instance with histograph). We propose to contribute to that discussion on the on-going research using these sources and/or tools along (but not limited to) the following questions:

Digitised sources – what uses, what outcomes for European integration historiography?

  • Digitisation of national archives and EU institutional archives
  • Digitally born material: social media, webarchives
  • Digitisation of generic historical sources at European scale: newspapers, books, maps, images

The allure of the digital Europe: the “perils and pleasure” of the digital?

  • Digital source criticism: what collections are made available online and how ?
  • Oral history and multimedia collections of the European integration history: enhanced access, new visibility?
  • Interface criticism: how handy are the interfaces, what navigation options are offered to browse the collections, how connected are the collections with external databases?
  • Producing new workflows for collecting digitised sources or using digital tools, from the note collection to the collection of data, the annotation of digital sources?
  • Visualisation of historical data as another heuristic practice?

Please submit here ( an abstract of 500 words, three keywords describing it and a short academic bio (200 words) before 16.02.2020. Notifications will be sent on the 15.03.2020.

This conference will bring together PhD students and early career researchers from various disciplines to discuss their work in a number of panels both with their peers and with senior scholars, who will act as discussants and keynote speakers.

Download the Call for Papers here: pdf_icon