Historical Social Research

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Jan Christoph Meister, DH is Us or on the Unbearable Lightness of a Shared Methodology [Abstract]

In practice the Digital Humanities are methodologically defined by the principle of digital conceptualization of the objects and procedures of research. Who embarks upon Digital Humanities considers the objects of study implicitly as a complex of discrete measurable states, to apply, based upon this, computer based procedures: analytical, symbolizing or modeling. This mode of digital conceptualization of humanistic topics of research can in principle be used within all disciplines, as a digital lingua franca. Before this background we formulate two theses: (1) This methodological theoretical claim of universality has to be relativized by the Digital Humanities community through critical reflection of methodology; digital access does not turn out to be appropriate everywhere, when we make the specifically humanistic drive for knowledge the yardstick of a cost-benefit analysis. (2) The trans-disciplinary nature of the Digital Humanities may be politically “unbearable” by tendency from the perspective of traditional Humanities’ disciplines, as it challenges their disciplinary identity. For the Digital Humanities community both of these theses lead to the obligation to engage in a critical self reflexion of their own methods – and open the dialogue with the established humanistic disciplines against its backdrop.