Prof Dr Andreas Fickers; Credit: University of Luxembourg

On Wednesday evening, had the opportunity to attend the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History’s (C²DH) fifth anniversary celebrations in the Grand Auditorium of the Maison du Savoir on the Esch-Belval campus of the University of Luxembourg.

The C²DH, created in October 2016 and officially inaugurated in May 2017, celebrated this milestone with several lectures from guests such as Prof Dr Johanna Drucker, Professor of Bibliographical Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Prof Dr Stéphane Pallage, Rector of the University of Luxembourg, Prof Dr Andreas Fickers, Founding Director of the C²DH, and Claude Meisch, Luxembourg’s Minister for Higher Education and Research.

Around 150 people attended this event, which opened with a humorous short film about what the C²DH means to various actors involved in its creation and success over the past five years, featuring interviews by local actor Pitt Simon with Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, Denis Scuto, Deputy Director of the C²DH, and Frank Bösch, Member of the C²DH Scientific Committee, among others.

In his multilingual speech, Prof Dr Andreas Fickers, the Founding Director of the C²DH, reflected on the slogan of this anniversary event: “Looking forward to looking back”. He compared the past five years to an expedition, which he led at the start with a small group of travellers. He looked forward to many more expeditions to come.

The C²DH Director, whose second five-year mandate began in October 2021, presented some of the many challenges facing historians today. He recalled that it was their duty to speak up in response to the misuse and instrumentalisation of history for “belligerent political purposes”. He regretted that the 2018 Law of Archives in Luxembourg was more restrictive than in other parts of Europe, another challenge for historians in the Grand Duchy.

Ending his speech on a positive note, Prof Dr Fickers thanked the Luxembourg Government for its role in the creation of the C²DH, as well as the rectorate and the governance council of the University of Luxembourg, the National Research Fund (FNR) for its support for “important and strategic projects” and members of the C²DH Management Team. Above all, he thanked his colleagues Denis Scuto and Brigitte Melchior for their constant support. Thanks also went to all members of the C²DH team for their “fantastic work and commitment” over the past five years.

The event continued with speeches by Rector Stéphane Pallage, Luxembourg’s Minister of Finance, Yuriko Backes (via video message), and the Minister for Higher Education and Research, Claude Meisch. Prof Dr Pallage expressed his pride in the university and its young history and emphasised the important role played by history in remembering and learning from the past. He thanked Prof Dr Andreas Fickers and his team for their “formidable” work at the C²DH.

Minister Backes described the centre as the “bridge between the past, the present and the future”, adding that the past was key to the future.

Minister Meisch, for his part, described the C²DH as a real “success story”, expressing his “respect and gratitude” to all those involved in the centre over the past five years. In his role as Minister for Higher Education, he particularly congratulated the centre’s engagement in the field of teaching. Minister Meisch concluded that the decision to create this interdisciplinary centre five years ago was “the right one” and he wished the team continued success.

Prof Dr Andreas Fickers then introduced keynote speaker Prof Johanna Drucker, who began by praising the C²DH’s achievements and the “dedication and enthusiasm” of the team. In her academic talk, she addressed the subject “Visual Exchange: Digitising Cultural Knowledge Systems”, emphasising the contribution of humanists not only through critical thinking (which is also a characteristic of other fields) but through their attention to representation.

Prof Dr Fickers concluded by thanking everyone who joined this fifth anniversary celebration and particularly thanked the communication team for putting together a special brochure dedicated to these first five years.

The official part of this event was followed by a cocktail reception with champagne, finger food and birthday cake.

To learn more about the history (and future) of the C²DH, read Prof Dr Andreas Fickers’ recent interview on