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Historisches Seminar


Mission: A platform for addressing the digital landscape

The Digital History Lab (DHL) is tasked with addressing the emerging promises and problems of digitalization by emphasizing its historical junctures comprising social, political, cultural, economic and epistemic dimensions. Specifically, digitalization gives rise to a wide range of phenomena and issues such as Big Data, surveillance, privacy, access rights, citizen science, the circulation and re-appropriation of cultural artefacts (texts, numbers, pictures and sound) and other new forms of digitally mediated social interaction. 

Drawing on existing Digital History expertise in the Department of History, especially in Media History, History of Knowledge, E-Learning, and digital dissemination, the DHL aims to serve as a forum for sharing best practices between UZH scholars from history and other disciplines, as well as offering practical and intellectual support to research projects. In these ways, the DHL is an umbrella for research, teaching and engagement activities, offering scholars a space in which to reflect on and practice history in the digital age. The DHL addresses the digital realm from two perspectives:

Methodology: Historicizing the Digital

The DHL serves as a platform for historical research on digital data, including its cultural and epistemological dimensions, while focusing also on societal issues. The ways in which digital technologies shape processes of archiving and curating cultural heritage have impacted on academic and public understanding of history. The discipline of History and particularly some of its sub-disciplines (e.g. History of Knowledge and Media History) offer scholars a variety of approaches to study the epistemology of data and socio-technological relations in Digital Societies. For instance, cultural norms (e.g. property or privacy) and cultural techniques (e.g. modelling, simulating, programming, hacking, image and text interpretation, or writing practices) are fundamentally challenged by binary code, by hypertext, by collaborative working environments or machine learning.

In analyzing and reflecting on the past, present and future implications of the digital revolution in a collaborative and interdisciplinary way, DHL speaks to most of the community's central concerns. We urgently need to develop a history and theory of data (small and big) in the past in order to understand data and its infrastructures in the present.

Methods: New ways of writing history

Digital technologies are profoundly transforming both the research environments and teaching methods of history as a discipline, as well as the contemporary representations of history in archives and exhibitions, in print and digital media, and in school didactics. For this reason, DHL strives to serve as a venue to explore all kinds of methods in research and teaching.

Specifically, we are particularly interested in the ways new technologies may affect the very writing of history in a digital age. Powerful new ways of structuring the traditional monograph or essay have emerged, building on methodologies inspired by the new infrastructures of Digital History, e.g. hyperlinking, keyword searching, or plain text. But when one moves from paper to screen, there are many more possibilities to develop non-traditional historical narratives through interfaces between writers and readers. The DHL provides a venue for reflecting the language of New Media and the ways in which historians could rethink methods of source analysis and research presentation.

Moreover, the DHL assists students to develop new ways of researching and also presenting their research results. We envision giving students a forum to publish their semester papers, and we are looking for students who, wishing to develop the full interactive potential of digital technologies, want to create websites in lieu of the traditional Seminararbeit, for instance.


The DHL also serves as a node for intellectual exchanges with institutions within and outside UZH. Here are some of our partners:

ZB Lab


Scientific Committee des Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History


UZH Archiv

Weiterführende Informationen

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Historisches Seminar

Universität Zürich
Historisches Seminar
Karl Schmid-Strasse 4
CH-8006 Zürich
Tel.  +41 44 634 38 66
Fax. +41 44 634 49 13

Praxisatelier Digital Humanities

Whatch out our workshops organised with the ZB Lab.


Digital Society Initiative

DSI Excellence Program for PhD Students

For prospective PhD students and PhD students enrolled at UZH.