Conference "Digital Testimonies on War and Trauma"

Conference description

To mark the completion of the video-life stories project Croatian Memories (CroMe) the Erasmus Studio for e-research is pleased to announce the international multidisciplinary conference “Digital Testimonies on War and Trauma” to be held at the Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, The Netherlands, from 12-14 June, 2013.

The CroMe project is generating a collection of video interviews with testimonies on war-related experiences in Croatia’s past. As each interview is processed, transcribed, translated and subtitled in English, the project reaches out to both a local general and an international academic audience. Accordingly the interviews will be made accessible in two ways: in edited form on an online platform for the general public, and in their original form in a separate password-protected environment for researchers. 

Conference aim

The conference aims to bring together scholars involved in the creation of oral sources, for both individual research and archival purposes, with the intent to discuss the potential use and impact of  digitized collections of narratives related to war and trauma, across disciplinary and national boundaries. Because of the specific context in which the CroMe project has been conducted, special  attention will be given to research based on oral sources in the region of the former Yugoslavia, and on new insights with regard to creating and opening up digital oral history archives. 

Keynote speakers

  • Prof. Dr. Nicolas Apostolopoulos (Centre for Digital Systems at the Free University of Berlin) 
  • Dr. Steven High (Canada Research Chair in Public History at Concordia University, Canada and co-director of the Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling)
  • Prof. Dr. Doug Oard (professor of Information Sciences, University of Maryland)

Programme committee

  • Dr. Christian Gudehus (Executive Director of the Centre for Multi-disciplinary Memory Research at the University of Flensburg, Germany)
  • Prof. Dr. Franciska de Jong (Professor of Language Technology at the University of Twente, and director of the Erasmus Studio, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam)
  • Dr. Kruno Kardov (Department of Sociology at the University of Zagreb, Croatia
  • Prof. Dr. Julia Noordegraaf (Professor of Heritage and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam)
  • Dr. Stef Scagliola (Erasmus School for History, Culture and Communication / Erasmus Studio, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, The Netherlands) 

Registration and fees

The regular fee for participation is 100 euro. This includes admission to the conference, two lunches, refreshments and a reception. A limited number of fee waiver scholarships for PhD students will be made available. Registration will be open from March 2013 onwards.

Call for Papers

We solicit paper proposals in the form of abstracts, with the intent to publish a selection of full papers in a specialized journal after the conference.
Papers are supposed to present original research on one or more of the following themes:

1. Computer Science and Information Science

The multidisciplinary environment in which ICT researchers design platforms and provide technological support for digital oral history collections, can pose challenges in communicating with actors that have a different relationship with the material. The question to be addressed is how these differences can be overcome. How can technology evolve and at the same time connect to existing research practices?

How to cope with tensions between the demand for a manageable and affordable collection, and the academic challenge of applying innovative techniques such as speech and image retrieval? How to deal with diverging mindsets related to issues of transcribing and translating? Another central issue is the variation in the design of search and access environments for public, academic and educational uses of the collections.

2. Archival Studies and Library Studies

The digital revolution poses great challenges on how the access to archives is arranged, in particular when dealing with personal narratives that are published online in post-conflict societies. There are various ethical questions with regard to ownership, privacy, consent and the consequences of speaking out. An equally important issue is the balance between investing in the creation of archives and in its future users. Questions to be addressed are: How do archivists deal with sensitive data? Are there mechanisms to monitor the use of collections? Who gets access and who does not? Who uses these archives and in what ways? Has the policy with regard to privacy and informed consent undergone major changes in the past decades? 

3. Social Studies and the Humanities (SSH)

The “digital turn” has led to an explosion of digital testimonies on war, trauma and human rights abuses. The impact of this abundance of personal testimonies on the academic community is not fully clear yet. What is the general appraisal of these type of sources? Are these digitized collections actually being used by scholars or do they primarily base their findings on their own sources? If they have found their way into the archives, how do they use these sources? Do they consider depositing their own data? Is there an explanation for the distinct oral history tradition of the Anglo-Saxon academic world, and the European approach? Another important question is whether the multidisciplinary potential of these collections is fully appreciated. If yes, in what way? If no, how can this be facilitated by digital technology?

Submission format

Please send your abstract (max. 400 words, excluding references) to the conference secretariat (Laura Boerhout) before February 1st 2013. Your application should include a provisional title and a link to a short online profile of the main author(s). 

Important dates

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 1 February 2013
Notification of accepted papers: 1 March 2013
Conference: 12-14 June 2013


For details about participation, schedule, registration, accomodation, venue and programme, please check the conference website (currently under construction):