UCL Centre for Digital Humanities


UCLDH ONLINE: Talking Borders | Is there anybody out there?

13 July 2022, 5:00 pm–6:30 pm

cells under microscope

Multimodal Digital Oral History: The Forward-View Seminar with Machteld Venken, Center of Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg and Elspeth Brown, University of Toronto.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Daniele Metilli

Machteld Venken, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Talking borders, history and digital hermeneutics

No abstract available.

Elspeth Brown, University of Toronto, Canada
Is there anybody out there? Multimodal research creation and queer oral history

"In the shift to on-line oral history archiving and access, researchers face new opportunities, and challenges, in creating wide-spread access to oral histories and their associated data, including video and sound files, ephemera, transcripts, metadata, and more. For community-engaged projects seeking to reach broader audiences, who exactly is our audience, and do they have the time and patience to view and listen to hours of un-edited oral history footage? Is getting oral histories on-line enough to ensure meaningful access? My talk will focus on one strategy to increase community access to digital oral history projects: research creation. Research creation is an approach to research that combines creative and academic research, and which supports the development of knowledge through creative expression, scholarly investigation, and experimentation. In our current oral history project on the last major police raid of a queer bathhouse in Canada, we have turned to research creation to address three challenges: 1) how can we make our oral histories accessible in meaningful ways, beyond simply putting them on-line? 2) how can we queer oral history interviewing strategies to facilitate narrators’ sensory engagement with the past? and 3) how can we sidestep the colonial logics of research extraction through an ethical collaboration with narrators in the creation and circulation of research findings?"

This seminar series takes as its jumping off point, that the time is right to pursue a Multimodal Digital Oral History, or one that engages with oral history artefacts in all their representational modalities: transcript, sound, waveform, metadata and more. 

The joint virtual seminar series will be convened by Andrew Flinn (UCL) & Julianne Nyhan (TU Darmstadt & UCL) and co-hosted by the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies UCL; the Chair of Humanities Data Science and Methodology, TU Darmstadt, Germany; the International Centre for Archives and Records Management Research, UCL; and the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities.

About the Speakers

Machteld Venken

Professor of Contemporary Transnational History at Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH)

She studied Slavic Languages and Cultures, European Studies and History in Belgium, Poland and Ukraine. Venken earned her PhD in 2008 at the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) and her habilitation in 2018 at the University of Vienna (Austria). She has been a Principal Investigator of eight research projects funded in four European countries. Venken joined the University of Luxembourg in November 2019 after a Visiting Scholarship at the Imre Kertesz Kolleg / Institute of Advanced Studies at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena (Germany) and an Attract Brains for Brussels Fellowship at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (Belgium). Her main research interests are transnational, transregional and comparative histories of Europe, migration, borderlands, oral history, the history of families and children, and citizen science.

More about Machteld Venken

Elspeth Brown

Professor of History at University of Toronto

Her research concerns modern queer and trans history; the history and theory of photography; the history of US capitalism; and queer archives. She is currently the Director for the Critical Digital Humanities Initiative and the Digital Humanities Network, U of T. She is the Director of the LGBTQ Oral History Digital Collaboratory, a SSHRC-funded multi-year public humanities collaboration with community and university partners. From 2014-2021, she served on the Board of The ArQuives: Canada’s LGBQT2+ Archive, most recently as Co-President.

More about Elspeth Brown