Observatory on Humanities and Digital Humanities

Today, the question about the usefulness, meaning and function of Humanities takes on an unprecedented urgency. For a long time, our societies have entrusted these forms of knowledge with a role of self-awareness; now they often appear to doubt the appropriateness of devoting energy and resources to them. Those who practise these studies are faced with the need for a new reflection. First and foremost it has to question the specificity of Humanities, their social function, their relationships with other disciplines, their epistemological transformations, their research and teaching methods, their values and the way to evaluate them.

At the same time, as it prerogative of humanistic thinking, it cannot renounce in turn to critically question the very transformations which are taking place. The Observatory on Humanities aims to be a place to develop an informed reflection on these transformations and the ongoing debate. Its activities have focused on issues such as the evolution of the categories of humanism – the ‘human’ of Humanities -, the new dimensions of the public life of knowledge – from access to knowledge to the analysis of infodemics -, and the transformations of knowledge and education policies.

exploring the new dimensions of the public life of knowledge, at investigating the transformations in the politics of knowledge and education

From the outset, special attention is paid to the implications of the ‘digital turn’ of our time, where the Observatory’s activity is intertwined with that of the ISPF’s Centre for Digital Humanities. The latter in fact combines an operational dimension in the field of digitalisation and electronic publishing with a theoretical one, aimed at accompanying the methodological refinement of the digital applications with a critical and cultural awareness of the transformations it brings about. More recently, the all-encompassing experience of the pandemic has focused these questions and provoked new ones on a frontier that has challenged our studies in a particularly peremptory manner: pandemic and environmental issues – inevitably intertwined with the former – have thus become another core of our Observatory. Many of these activities have resulted in public meetings and seminars, as well as in publications hosted by a dedicated section of the electronic journal ISPF-LAB. As far as the more operational dimension in the field of Digital Humanities is concerned, the participation to several national and international projects (most recently the PON “IDEHA-Innovation for Data Elaboration in Heritage Areas” coordinated by the DSU-CNR) has to be highlighted.

Research line

Observatory on Humanities and Digital Humanities
Person in charge

Leonardo Pica Ciamarra