History online. On the production of historical knowledge in digital communities
This postdoc-project explores people’s use of history and their attitudes towards historical knowledge in digital communities. Thus, it contributes to an ongoing international debate on the role of knowledge and history in a digitalized society. Historians have previously been studying history in the digital domain from an interest in how historians themselves can deal with the “big data” provided by the Internet. This project instead uses a “history from below”-perspective and focuses on the ways in which historical knowledge is produced online by a history-interested public. Every day individuals use the Internet not only to search for facts about the past, but also to produce their own historical knowledge. They discuss topics ranging from national and local history, specific historical periods, wars and political history as well as clothes, styles and artefacts from the past.
The project uses Actor-Network-Theory as its theoretical starting point. Thus, the project analyses how historical knowledge is produced through networks of actors from the standpoint that knowledge is situated and processual. A specific focus is directed on how interpretative prerogatives are established in this digital context. To explore the production of historical knowledge a netnographical method is used. This implies that the data to used is produced by the members of digital communities themselves.
The purpose of the project is to investigate the production of historical knowledge in digital communities created by a history-interested public. The main research questions are:
– What kind of historical knowledge is produced in digital communities created by a history-interested public?
– How is historical knowledge produced, discussed and established in these digital communities?
With its focus on the production of historical knowledge in digital communities the project connects to an ongoing debate on the role of knowledge and history in contemporary society. Hereby it aims to contribute to complex discussions on how the digital revolution affects society, with regards to both individual, cultural and political processes. Furthermore, it will contribute to the research fields studying uses of the past and digital memory by developing new methodological insights as well as analytical results.