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Ireland and UK expand cooperation with joint research awards in digital humanities

Minister Simon Harris welcomes €6.5m boost for interdisciplinary research partnerships

Eleven new research projects have been announced today by the Irish Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), that will see the UK and Ireland bring together world-leading expertisein the Digital Humanities.

“An exceptional and diverse group of projects”

The projects will combine the arts and humanities with digital technologies to address an extremely broad range of topics, including tacking online hate in football, understanding digital feminism, mapping the history of typhoid in Dublin, and tracing the evolution of ogham writing.

The projects will aim to develop new research techniques, bring innovative approaches to community engagement and enhance cultural understanding and access to heritage. Projects partners include the Football Association of Wales, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Historic Environment Scotland, the British Museum, Sport Against Racism Ireland, Royal College of Physicians in Ireland and the Digital Repository of Ireland.

Welcoming the joint awards, Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, said:

“I am delighted to see these awards announced today, supported by the Irish Research Council. The ongoing partnership between the IRC and AHRC-UKRIwill drive a step-change in the level of cooperation between these two islands in the growing field of digital humanities.

“The UK-Ireland digital humanities partnership is a timely reminder of both the appetite and the potential for UKIreland research collaboration, both ‘east-west’ and ‘north-south’.

Maintaining and further building an international and a vibrant all-island higher education and research system is a key priority for government.”

Christopher Smith, AHRC Executive Chair and International Champion for UKRI said:

“I am delighted to see that the strength of AHRC’s partnership with the Irish Research Council has enabled us to co-fund such an exceptional and diverse group of projects.

“Through cutting-edge approaches these projects powerfully capture the innovative potential of joining creativity in the arts and humanities with digital technologies and promise to achieve a new international benchmark in Digital Humanities research.”

Building on the UK-Ireland collaboration

The Research Grants call is part of the Fund for International Collaboration, a multi-million-pound fund supporting 2 international collaborations which enhances the UK’s ability to build new, and strengthen existing, partnerships with global research and innovation leaders.

The call isjointly led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and the Irish Research Council (IRC). Itbuilds on the ‘UK-Ireland Collaboration in the Digital Humanities’ scoping workshop that took place in Dublin on 22 and 23 October 2019 and the UK-Ireland Collaboration in the Digital Humanities Research Networking Call launched in 2020.

Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council also commented, saying:

“The awards we are jointly announcing today will not only enhance the integration of humanities and technology, but they will also facilitate UK and Irish researchers to widen their professional networks through collaboration and exchange of ideas, and to cultivate long-term links between Irelandand UK-based researchers. I am particularly pleased to see that many projects engage extensively with partners in the creative industries and cultural heritage organisations, demonstrating the huge potential for intersectoral synergies and the opportunity to create inclusive solutions, ranging from an explorationof the use of emerging digital technologies to transforming understanding of online practices to the provision of world-class digital research repositories. The engagement between disciplines, academic and non-academic organisations across Ireland and the UK adds up to an initiative which is truly rich in possibilities.”

The Eleven Research Grants are:

Dr Mark Doidge, University of Brighton; Dr Gary Sinclair, Dublin City University- Tackling Online Hate in Football (TOHIF)

This project will explore the potential of digital technologies to transform understanding of online hate. It aims to show how online practices and experiences have the potential to shape and influence our perceptions of matters concerning racism, sexism and sectarianism. Through analysis of online discourses, it will identify flashpoints and strategies for social media companies, policymakers and campaigners to tackle hate crime, identity politics and communication in a digital age. Critical discourse analysis on selected instances of football-related hate speech on Twitter will be paired with descriptive, content and network analysis of eight European Football Championships between 2008 and 2022. Interviews will be conducted with members of partner organisations committed to race equality, social justice and stamping out online hate. Researchers will work with partners to develop educational workshops, policies and specific machine learning procedures in whichto identify and combat online hate on social media. Such initiatives and academic outputs will be disseminated with the goal of benefiting a wide number of stakeholders in a sustainable way including but not limited to social media companies, fans, football clubs/players, policymakers and anti-hate organisations/campaigns. Project partners include Sport Against Racism Ireland, Kick it Out, Football Supporters Association, Football Association Wales and Sporting Equals.

Dr Seren Griffiths, Manchester Metropolitan University; Dr Neil Carlin, University College Dublin- ‘Project Radiocarbon’ – Big Data, integrated cross-national heritage histories

This project aims to enhance the practice of archaeology and historic environment research across Britain and Ireland by providing a world-class digital research repository for radiocarbon (14C) data. Millions of pounds/euro of extant legacy data that is currently at risk because no effective digital archives exist. The project will provide a new approach to researching 14C results as archaeological Big Data. The project will provide a world-leading, unique approach to research, working in partnership with national historic environment agencies across five jurisdictions. In doing so it will create the first international, open access, sustainable, live-update 14C research framework.

Dr Sharon Webb, University of Sussex; Dr Jeneen Naji, National University of Ireland Maynooth- Full Stack Feminism in Digital Humanities

This project aims to embed intersectional feminist methodologies in Digital Humanities. It will achieve this by developing an interoperable ‘Full Stack Feminist’ (FSF) methodology and tool kit. It develops this approach by focusing on 3 areas, referred to as stacks: data & archives; infrastructure, tools & code; access, experience &integration. The project will highlight and address specific points in project development that, often unconsciously, manifest inequalities or bias in, for example, data models, archival descriptions, access rights, andtool functionality. It will develop an interoperable FSF methodology that software teams, programme managers, database designers, digital arts practitioners, data scientists, etc., can review and apply to their work. This will enable Digital Humanities practitioners to re-evaluate the structures in which they work and will create new intersectional Digital Humanities spaces, with the hope that practitioners will consider a feminist methodology throughout their work and the development life-cycle – not as a post-reflection.

Professor Hilary Robinson, Loughborough University; Dr Tina Kinsella, Dun Laoghaire Inst of Art Design & Tech- Feminist Art Making Histories

This project aims tocollect, curate and create an archive of oral histories andephemera of the feminist art movement in the UK and Ireland from the 1970s onwards. It will make a tangible step-change contribution to what is currently a hidden, yet shared, diverse cultural heritage between the UK and Ireland of feminist artists’ activism. It will place those hidden voices of the feminist art movement betweenthe two locations of Digital Humanities and histories of art, to release and restore silenced, lost or occluded narratives to the cultural heritage sector. The project outputs will include an archive of histories and ephemera collected from the interview process; workshops whichwill bring together interview participants to reflect on thematics arising from the research process; a website, a bookproposal, and panel presentations at international conferences to disseminate new understandings of the rich heritage of feminist art practice in the UK and Ireland.

Professor Katherine Forsyth, University of Glasgow; Professor David Stifter, National University of Ireland Maynooth- OG(H)AM: Harnessing digital technologies to transform understanding of ogham writing, from the 4th century to the 21st

The project aims to harness digital tools from different fields to transform scholarly and popular understanding of Ogham – an ancient script unique to Ireland and Britain. It will provide a potential model of collaborative ways of working to ensure the long-term sustainability, continued development, and inter-operability of diverse digital resources for multi-disciplinary humanities research. Through collaborative working, resource-sharing and skills- exchange the project will strengthen partnerships between academia, museums, libraries, and state heritage agencies across all 6 nations in the UK, Ireland and the Isle of Man. It will also contribute to Europe-wide collaboration in digital epigraphy and place Ogham in the vanguard of global epigraphical studies. The project will digitally document all c.640 examples of Ogham writing in all media, from its origin in the fourth century CE until the dawn of the modernrevivalc.1850. It will document in 3D all Ogham in the collections ofthe national museums (the British Museum; the National Museums of Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales; and the Manx Museum).

Dr William Lamb, University of Edinburgh; Dr Brian Ó Raghallaigh”, Dublin City University- Decoding Hidden Heritages in Gaelic Traditional Narrative with Text-Mining and Phylogenetics

The project aims to fuse deep, qualitative analysis with cutting-edge computational methods to decode, interpret and curate the hidden heritages of Gaelic traditional narrative. Using recent advances in language technology, the project will digitise, convert and make available a vast collection of folklore manuscripts in Irish and Scottish Gaelic. In turn, this new digital resource will catalyse ongoing research into Gaelic speech technology. The project will examine International Tales in Irish and Scottish Gaelic. Through an approach known as text-mining, it will use artificial intelligence to search the tales for similar topics, phrase sand other linguistic patterns. This work will transform the understanding about Gaelic oral culture and disseminate unique archival material online to a diverse set of end-users. It will positively impact the sustainability of Gaelic-speaking communities through the creation and further stimulation of important language technologies including handwriting recognition, machine translation and automatic speech recognition.

Dr Dawn Knight, Cardiff University; Dr Anne O’Keeffe, Mary Immaculate College- Interactional variation online: harnessing emerging technologies in the digital humanities to analyse online discourse in different workplace contexts

As we move into a post-COVID context, there is a need for a better understanding of what has become, and is likely to remain, a new way of communicating in the virtual workplace. This project aims to examine virtual workplace communication so as to gain depth of insight into the potential barriers to effective communication. It will explore not only what makes for success or failure in virtual workplace discourse, but what also allows for the identification of specific variables associated with such successes and failures. This study will be multi-modal, focusing both on what is said and also on how it is said (e.g. pitch, intonation, facial expression, accompanying gesture or gaze). Findings from this study serve as training materials to enhance virtual workplace communication. This project draws on the expertise of leading researchers in the UK and Ireland to propose the next generationof analytical frameworks for analysing this new type of discourse and will make these frameworks available to all arts and humanities research and end user communities, leading to a step change in our ability to develop equality of access in online communication.

Professor Keith Lilley, Queen’s University of Belfast; Dr Catherine Porter, University of Limerick- OS200: Digitally Re-Mapping Ireland’s Ordnance Survey Heritage

This project aims to gather historic Ordnance Survey (OS) maps and texts to form a single freely-accessible online resource for the first time. Doing so will enable a team of researchers from across Ireland–north and south–to uncover otherwise hidden and forgotten aspects of the life and work of those from Britainand Ireland employed by the OS as they mapped and recorded landscapes and localities. 2024 will be the bicentenary anniversary of Ireland becoming the first country to be mapped entirely at the large scale of six inches to one mile. Timed to coincide with the bicentenary, the project will offer an opportunity to reappraise the historic impacts of the OS’s mapping of Ireland, and their lasting legacies. It will use 21st-century technologies to analyse andvisualise how the OS operated, on the ground, as surveyorsencountered ‘the surveyed’. The project is supported by the Royal Irish Academy, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, and Digital Repository of Ireland.

Dr Samantha Vanderslott, University of Oxford; Dr Claas Kirchhelle; University College Dublin-Typhoid, Cockles, and Terrorism: The turbulent history of Anglo-Irishtyphoidcontrol in revolutionary Dublin

The project aims to explore the intimate connection between imperial and revolutionary public health politics in 20th century Dublin. The researchers will conduct innovative research on the (post)colonial politics of Anglo-Irish public health and typhoid control in Dublin. They will design a major blended physical/digital exhibition (hosted at Dublin City Library and Archive and the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland), educational resources and create an open accessdatabase of spatially codedhistorical disease, environmental, and infrastructural data. The project will use a mix of historical and digital humanities methods to analyse and digitise historical disease data, medical correspondence, cultural ephemera, infrastructural records, and meteorological data to understand why British bacteriological and sanitary interventions proved impractical in Dublin and how they were perceived by local populations. It hopes to make significant contributions to researchand engage audiences from all age groups on the importance of equitable access to effective sanitary infrastructure and vaccines.

Professor Keith Mark Johnston, University of East Anglia; Dr Sarah Arnold, National University of Ireland Maynooth- The Invisible Women – Developing a Feminist Approach to Film Archive Metadata and Cataloguing

The project aims to explore how film archives can take practical action to update, enhance and improve catalogue metadata via feminist research methodologies. The absence of a feminist-informed approach to digital curation within existing film archive metadata systems has meant that women’s creative labour is not fully acknowledged within catalogue records, which can lead to their creativity being invisible within national and regional film collections. It will analyse the catalogues of women amateur filmmakers across two national collections: the Institute of Amateur Cinematographers at the East Anglian Film Archive (EAFA) and the collections of the Irish Film Institute Irish Film Archive (IIFA). This will include creating newly digitised films by these innovative women, offering fuller catalogue records, and the practical application of the research with EAFA and IIFA.

Mr Michael Pidd, University of Sheffield; Dr James O’Sullivan, University College Cork-C21 Editions: Editing and Publishing in the Digital Age

This project aims to explore and make a direct contribution to the future of digital scholarly editing and digital publishing. By engaging with experts and stakeholder groups, the project will establish the methods and principles for developing the scholarly digital editions of the future. Furthermore, it will demonstrate and support the realisation of such future editions by producing two high impact digital editions based on materials which are currently unpublished. Both editions will be used to help developand test the project’s proposed data standardfor encoding born-digital texts and a toolkit for machine-assisted editing.

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