Centre for the Study of the Balkans News and events

We are launching a series of online events – presentations, round-table discussions and other interactive experiences aimed at communicating the latest knowledge of the Balkans through a dialogue among academics, students and general public.

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Searching digital: Methods, tools and standards of research in digital humanities


The Goldsmiths’ Centre for the Study of the Balkans in collaboration with the Department of History of Art, Birkbeck University of London, and supported by the CHASE Doctoral Training Partnership is organising a series of workshops Searching digital: Methods, tools and standards of research in digital humanities. The series will offer focused trainings in specialised digital skills procedures and standards that are currently considered to be among the essential ones applied in the research of the humanities in any historical context or space.

The field of Digital Humanities (DH) is among the fastest growing fields of scholarship, opening up wide opportunities for a ground-breaking research of an interdisciplinary character and global outreach. However, the practical implementation of this field often shows substantial gaps, among which certainly a variation of scholars’ knowledge about digital tools, methodologies and standards.

This series of trainings opens the ground for discussing some new specialised tools, resources and standards needed for an efficient and creative research in the highly sought fields of digital humanities. How to digitise, store and restore, manipulate, and interpret the knowledge of the past? What are the technical, ethical and interpretative challenges involved in this? How to best use your practical knowledge in digital cataloguing, archiving, mapping and analysing diverse types of historical primary sources?

The series’ training sessions graft upon the experience of international scholars who contributed to the development of efficient digital solutions to the challenges of their field. Using the examples of their own expertise in early-modern and modern history, politics, film studies and preservation, heritage and library/archival collections, the trainers will direct the applicants to develop efficient tools and solutions to their own research questions in any field of humanities.

The series consists of six full-day sessions that will be held in June and September 2021. The June workshops will be held online. The mode of training in September will depend on the actual situation with the Covid-19 pandemic and will be confirmed by the end of June 2021.

Programme in September 2021:

21 September, 10am-4pm

Letters: modelling and analysis with Mag. Dr Thomas J.J. Wallnig, Privatdoz, Institute of Austrian Historical Research and Department of History, University of Vienna, Austria

Letters are historical sources relevant across centuries and continents. But what would be the technical preconditions for comprehensive queries, in-depth analyses, and the re-use of letter data? The workshop will address these problems from the perspective of data management, before proceeding to the interaction between data modelling and analysis. Two hands-on sessions will include basic TEI XML and the use of selected online tools.  

24 September, 10am–4pm

Digital Memoryscape with Professor Nevena DakovićTheory and History Department, Faculty of Drama Arts, University of Belgrade, Serbia.

Belgrade memory narratives, in themselves rich in identity, projected onto the digital memoryscape and connecting real and virtual topography, reflect the multicultural identity of the Balkan metropolis. The capital of the succeeding states, placed at the intersection of Europe and the Balkans, the East and the West, a bridge between cultures and civilizations of Orient and Occident, Belgrade is paradigmatic noeud de mémoire et d`histoire. Furthermore, BDM becomes a space of the interplay of urban/national memory and identity that contributes to their promotion and visibility in the global digital world.

How do we model and plan digital memoryscape of the chosen city or of one its lieux de memoire? How do you decide about the place and topic? What are the research and archival sources? What type of media and narratives do we employ (fiction, faction, history, literature, films, music, oral testimonies)?

29 September, 10am–4 pm

Would you rather…?: The ups, downs, uses and dilemmas of digitising history with Dayna MillerKingston University Archives and Special Collections  Library and Learning Services 

This session will discuss the approach that Kingston University Archives and Special Collections has taken to digitisation. From decisions about digitisation priorities to lessons learned from the Coronavirus Lockdown, participants will hear about practical challenges that funding, staffing, and moving premises can pose to a digitisation programme.

In addition, the session will raise questions over why archives digitise at all. Looking at ethical as well as pragmatic concerns, participants will have a chance to consider the benefits of digitisation for researchers and for archives, but also the disadvantages, and the fine balance that archives must strike for one to outweigh the other.

The session will also provide an opportunity to engage with material from a number of the Archive’s collections. This includes a 15th Century Serbo-Croat Armorial from the Vane Ivanovic Library as well as more recent historical items; all of which can be viewed in a wider context than might first appear. Participants will work through a series of ‘archive dilemmas’ represented by these items and will be asked to apply to them a methodology presented during the session along with their own ideas about what it means to digitise history.

Please apply via eventbrite or CHASE.

Programme in June 2021:

9 June , 10am-4pm

Access to Archives, Digitization, Digital Preservation and the Concept of Record Trustworthiness in a Digital Environment. The Experience of the Blinken Open Society as the Archival Laboratory of Digital Records 

Session Trainer: Robert Parnica, Senior Reference Archivist, Open Society Archives (OSA), Budapest (Hungary)

16 June, 10am-4pm

Approaches in Object-based DH Research, Reconstruction and Visualisation 

Session trainer: Dr Kateřina Horníčková, Researcher / DH Projects Coordinator, Institute of Applied Informatics, University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice  (Czech Republic)

21 June, 10am-4pm

Separating the Wheat from the Chaff: On the Use and Usefulness of Digital Humanities in History and Beyond 

Session trainer: Dr Mihailo Popović, Project Leader TIB Balkans, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Medieval Research - Division of Byzantine Research, Vienna (Austria)

For eligibility criteria and applications, see  CHASE/ Training and Development Opportunities or at Eventbrite.

The series is made possible by the generous support of CHASE, Doctoral Training Partnership.

Diagnosing and treating disease in Byzantine hospitals image

February 10, 7 pm - Diagnosing and Treating Disease in Byzantine Hospitals

Public Lecture by Petros-Bouras Vallianatos
Introduction: Dr Nada Zecevic, Goldsmiths University of London, Department of History
Moderation: Dr Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim, Goldsmiths University of London, Department of History  

This talk focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of disease in Byzantine hospitals (xenōnes). It uses evidence from the corpus of surviving Byzantine hospital recipe books (xenōnika), including all the edited and unedited examples.

It also considers important non-medical sources, such as charters of medical institutions, legal sources, epistolography, and archaeological evidence. In this venture, particular attention will be paid to the role of uroscopy whether in conjunction with the examination of the pulse or not, in the diagnosis and prognostication of disease.