Prof Dr Sean Takats; Credit: University of Luxembourg

Professor Dr Sean Takats, an internationally renowned expert on digital history, will start his research work in Luxembourg in October 2019.

Backed by an FNR PEARL Chair from the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR), Sean Takats will join the Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH), one of the interdisciplinary research centres of the University of Luxembourg. The PEARL programme, funded by the FNR, provides competitive funding to attract top researchers in strategic research areas for Luxembourg.

Professor Takats’s PEARL project aims to transform historical research practices to meet the demands of the digital age and establish Luxembourg as one of the global leaders in digital history research and development. The project named DHARPA (Digital History Advanced Research Projects Accelerator) will assess the impact of technology on historical research and will experiment with how technology can reshape the methodological underpinnings of history as a scientific discipline.

The discipline of history has reached a critical inflection point: as archives and researchers digitise their artifacts in unprecedented quantity, historians are drowning in historical evidence. Yet in the face of this disorder, data science methods are emerging which can help make sense of this chaotic abundance. My project aims to unlock this potential,” explained Professor Takats. “With the generous support of the FNR and the University of Luxembourg, I and a team of historians and technicians will design and build a new free software platform for historians”.

He continued: “The C²DH is a perfect home for my research programme. [...] More broadly speaking, Luxembourg’s national digital strategy provides a solid foundation for engaging the public in the shared production and reception of historical knowledge”.

The project builds on Luxembourg’s strong foundations in the area of digital history, notably at the C²DH. The PEARL-project will rebalance the in-house expertise and excellence of C²DH by strategically increasing its development capacity. As such, DHARPA will have a global impact on the digital history community and shape the future of digital research and open-access publication in history. 

Professor Sean Takats comes with high credentials in the field of digital history, as well as in research software development. Currently at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, his multiple scholarly interests converge in the use of digital technology to improve academic research, particularly in the field of history.

C²DH Director Andreas Fickers noted: "Sean Takats combines the skills and expertise of a technology expert and a professional historian". Speaking of the project itself, he added: “DHARPA will be the first integrated Virtual Research Environment in the field of digital history and humanities linking all phases of research and it will enable a structural effect on digital history practices. By combining a generic platform design with a highly flexible and user-centred research interface, it will respond to the urgent need for transparency and traceability of research outputs in digitally-based humanities research”.

The project will promote digital skills among senior and junior researchers through skills trainings, online tutorials, road shows will further establish C²DH as hub for hands-on digital hermeneutics.