Directory of Projects
- 100 Voices that made the BBC
A series of themed websites exploring the role of the BBC in the history of the nation. Previously unseen images and footage from the BBC oral history archives are accompanied by rich curation and commentary from historians and others, helping to open up these fascinating archives to the wider public. Part of the BBC Connected Histories project.
- Automation Anxiety
PI: Ben Roberts (SHL)
Co-I: Patrick Crogan (University of West England)
This AHRC network explores innovative methods by which the humanities might address contemporary cultural anxiety about new forms of automation, which we are calling automation anxiety. The focus of this network is to address, as a topic in its own right, the cultural and social anxiety generated by these new forms of computational automation. What new research methods can the humanities use to to map and understand automation anxiety around opaque computational decision making? What digital tools can be brought to bear on the diverse types of online public culture in which this anxiety is expressed?
Funded by Art & Humanities Research Council
- BBC Connected Histories
David Hendy is joined by Tim Hitchcock, Margaretta Jolly, Alban Webb, and Anna-Maria Sachini
BBC Connected Histories is a ground-breaking collaboration between the BBC and the Sussex Humanities Lab, creating a new digital catalogue of hundreds of rarely seen audio and video interviews with former BBC staff – from those in the corridors of power to those at the broadcasting coal face.
- Capturing & Preserving the Copts' intangible cultural heritage in Eygypt
PI: Mariz Tadros (IDS)
- (BLESS) Coptic Orthodox Bishopric of Social Services
- (CASC) Coptic Association for Social Care in Minya
- (CCC) Coptic Culture Centre
- (SHL) Sussex Humanities Lab at University of Sussex (James Baker)
The Coptic Culture Conservation Collective (CCCC) initiative will create a narrative and visual archive of contemporary Coptic intangible cultural heritage (ICH).
Funded by the British Council
- CEPOL - Communication Power of Politicians in a Digital Age & Consequences for Participation & Democracy
PI: Kari Steen-Johnsen, Institute of Social Research, Oslo
Partner: Klaus Johannsen, Uni Research, Bergen
Partner: Andrew Salway, SHL
Partner: Cristian Vaccari, Loughborough University
Digitalization challenges the traditional role of mass media as gatekeepers and distributors of political information in the public sphere. Thus new opportunities open up for politicians to set the agenda and communicate with voters. The CEPOL project will study the implications of this development for representative, deliberative and participatory democracy by studying politicians' agenda setting and framing powers vis-a-vis citizens, and citizens' use of this type of political information.
Funded by the Institute for Social Research
- Curatorial Voice: legacy description of art objects & their comtemporay uses
PI: James Baker (SHL)
Co-I: Andrew Salway (SHL)
Extensive and increasingly available, digitised collections of curatorial art descriptions are valuable resources for generating new knowledge about curatorial practice, the historical and cultural contexts of curation, and the content of image collections. However, digitised catalogues have not yet been recognised as a form of ‘big data’ such that new and different kinds of research questions can be asked. This project demonstrates how applying computational text analysis techniques to large collections of curatorial art descriptions, and incorporating ideas related to ‘distant reading’ and ‘macroscopes’ into interpretations of those descriptions, can establish new directions in art historical research.
Funded under the British Academy Digital Research in the Humanities
- Designing Interfaces for Creativity
PI: Chris Kiefer
The Designing Interfaces for Creativity symposium took place in November 2016, bring together artists, designers, scientists, historians and hackers to discuss the design on new interfaces for creativity.The two-day event brought fifty people together for concerts, a day of practical workshops and a day of keynotes and panel discussions.
Funded by a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award
- Digital Culture and the Limits of Computation
PI: Beatrice Fazi
As the speed and scale of computing expand, and as software becomes more ubiquitous in everyday life, the following question comes to the fore: what, today, can be said to challenge, or even resist, the calculations of computation? This research engages with that question by bringing the notion of ‘incomputability’, as defined by mathematics and computer science, into the cultural theory of digital media. Computing is founded upon the logical discovery that certain functions will never be calculated. In 1936, Alan Turing showed that there are limits to computation, because there are problems that cannot be resolved via algorithmic means. In digital media theory, questions about the limits of computation have become equally important, and are often expressed via renewed critiques of instrumental rationality. These critiques are drawn and developed from established philosophical traditions within the humanities (e.g. phenomenology, critical theory, poststructuralism), which see computation as limited because life, experience and culture can never be fully encompassed by calculation. The two debates, in science and the humanities, are different, yet they are both predicated upon the same striving to understand processes of mechanisation. This project brings the two perspectives into dialogue with one another in order to explore some of the ways in which the limits of computation can be theorised in digital media studies.
Funded by: British Academy / Leverhulme Small Research Grant
- Digital Forensics in the Historical Humanities Hanif Kureishi, The Mass observation Archive, Glyn Moody
PI: Thorsten Ries (Institute of Modern German Literature, Ghent University)
Supervisor: James Baker (SHL)
The project demonstrates the innovative potential of digital forensic methodologies in the historical humanities, and sets forensic standards for future research using born digital archives.
Funded by MSCA
- Disrupting Daesh: measuring takedown of online terrorist material and its impacts
PI: Suraj Lakhani
This article contributes to public and policy debates on the value of social media disruption activity with respect to terrorist material. In particular, it explores aggressive account and content takedown, with the aim of accurately measuring this activity and its impacts. The major emphasis of the analysis is the so-called Islamic State (IS) and disruption of their online activity, but a catchall “Other Jihadi” category is also utilized for comparison purposes. Our findings challenge the notion that Twitter remains a conducive space for pro-IS accounts and communities to flourish. However, not all jihadists on Twitter are subject to the same high levels of disruption as IS, and we show that there is differential disruption taking place. IS’s and other jihadists’ online activity was never solely restricted to Twitter; it is just one node in a wider jihadist social media ecology. This is described and some preliminary analysis of disruption trends in this area supplied too.
Funded by: Home Office
- Hacking Your Way to IT Literacy
PI: Annika Richterich (SHL)
'Hacking Your Way to IT Literacy: What digital societies can (and need to) learn from digital learning in hackerspaces' uses digital ethnography and other methods to explore how informal learning takes place in hacker- and makerspaces. Commencing in late 2019, this research has engaged in particular with how hacker- and makerspaces have learned from and responded to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Funded by MSCA
- Humanising Algorithmic Listening
PI: Alice Eldridge (SHL)
Co-I: Paul Stapleton (Queen’s University Belfast)
Humanising Algorithmic Listening is an AHRC funded network which brings together experts with an interest in the applications and implications of machine listening from diverse disciplines including oral history, sensory ethnography, archive services, computer science, philosophy and music technology. The principle aim is to develop a critical and methodological agenda for the design, development and application of computational methods for audio analysis - listening algorithms - in the future.
Funded by AHRC
- Identity, Representation and Preservation in Community Digital Archives and Collections
PI: Sharon Webb (SHL)
Identity, Representation and Preservation in Community Digital Archives is an intervention in three important areas; community archives, digital preservation and content representation.
As communities take charge of their heritage, and create their own digital archives, the long-term viability and sustainability of these increasingly important collections, is uncertain. LGBTQ+ communities, feminist networks, black communities, among other marginalised groups, use digital technology to ensure representation and to protect against future erasure from the historical record. However, these representations are at risk of loss because of the fragility of digital archives and their associated infrastructures, both the human infrastructures (i.e. volunteers) and the digital infrastructures. This project asks what are the implications of a community-driven approach to long-term sustainability of these materials, and how might we support community archives without removing their agency.
Funded by a British Academy Rising Star Engagement Award (April 2018 – March 2019).
- Legacies of Catalogue Descriptions and Curatorial Voice: Opportunities for Digital Scholarship
PI: James Baker (SHL)
Co-I: Rossitza Atanassova (British Library)
Research Fellow: Andrew Salway (SHL)
Partner: Cynthia Roman (Curator Walpole Library)
This 12-month project will develop a platform for a transformational impact in digital scholarship within cultural institutions by opening up new and important directions for computational, critical, and curatorial analysis of collection catalogues. Extensive digital and digitised sets of curatorial descriptions from legacy catalogues are increasingly available. We seek to realise their potential as valuable resources for cross-disciplinary research into curatorial practice, and for enhancing access to and analysis of collections at scale.
Funded under the Arts and Humanities Research Council (UK)
- Making African Connections
PI: JoAnn McGregor (SHL)
Co-I: James Baker (SHL)
The Making African Connections project researches historic African collections held in Sussex and Kent museums with the aim of furthering both conceptual and applied debates over decolonising public institutions.
Funded by AHRC
- Merchants & Miracles: global circulations and the making of modern Bethlehem
PI: Jacob Norris (SHL)
Archivist: Freja Howat-Maxted
Partner: Leila Sansour, Open Bethlehem
A two-year AHRC-funded project that uncovers the global movements of migrants from Bethlehem in the 19th and early 20th centuries
- Mass Observation and the Digital Archive
PI: Rebecca Wright, Research Fellow in Mass Observation Studies
A project examining how digital humanities methods can transform how the Mass Observation archive is approached and utilised.
- Networking technology and the experience of ensemble music-making
PI: Ed Hughes (SHL Associate)
Co-Is: Alice Eldridge and Chris Kiefer (SHL)
The initial project ran from 1 Sept 2015 to 31 March 2016 and explored whether networking technology can help more people access the benefits of ensemble music-making in schools and community settings, and was featured in the Brighton Science Festival in February 2016.
The project has recently been awarded follow-on funding from the AHRC to develop and release their dynamic, networked notation software as a series of iOS and android apps.
Funded by AHRC
- Reanimating Data: Experiments with People, Places & Archives
This project uses archival methods to fold 1988 into 2018 - with teenage sexuality providing a focus for critical digital pedagogy and feminist time travel.
PI: Rachel Thomson (SHL)
Co-Is: I Niamh Moore (Edinburgh), Sharon Webb (SHL), Alison Ronan (Feminist Webs)
Research Fellow: Ester McGeeney
Funded by UKRI
- Reassembling the University: The Idea of a University in a Digital Age Selfie Stick Project
PI: David Berry (SHL)
A project examining how the university has become a highly contested space through the creation of networks of relations between devices, bodies, sites, and institutions.
- Sensing Wild Spaces
The WILDSENS projects aims to integrate ecoacoustic and participatory walking methods to create maps of wilderness spaces for use by conservation actors and agencies. We are exploring ways to integrate geophysical, acoustic and ecological data with human perceptions and attitudes to wild landscapes to support better environmental decision making in the future.
PI: Alice Eldridge (SHL)
Co Is: Dr Roger Norum (Independent researcher (anthropology) Jonathan Carruthers-Jones (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral Research Fellow, ENHANCE-ITN, University of Leeds)
Conservation of wilderness areas is essential for future planetary and human well-being. Effective conservation policy planning must be evidence-based and represent the needs of human and non-human species alike, but methodologies that integrate ecological, geophysical and ethnographic appraisals are lacking. Traditionally, research methods that attempt to capture the diversity of complex knowledge about wilderness areas have relied upon standard methodological tools from human and physical geography (e.g. GIS, PPGIS, etc.). The WILDSENS project aims to develop innovative methods that will enable the creation of more inclusive, comprehensive and robust maps of dynamic wilderness spaces, ensuring that the voices of multiple actors are heard and represented in conservation efforts. Our key innovation is to develop ecoacoustic and participatory mapping methodologies to enable the integration of qualitative and quantitative data from ecological, geophysical and ethnographic appraisals.
- Sonic Writing: Technologies of Musical Expression, Notation and Encoding
PI: Thor Magnusson
The Sonic Writing research project explores work and practices using new technologies for musical expression. Through tracing the historical conditions of material and symbolic design in three interconnected strands of inscription - instruments, notation, and phonography - the project studies how established techniques are translated into new methods of musical composition and performance in digital musical media.
Funded by AHRC
- Sussex Surveillance Group
Current members of the Sussex Surveillance Group: Duncan Edwards (IDS); Gordon Finlayson (HAHP); Paul Lashmar (MFM); Chris Marsden (LPS); Erik Millstone (SPRU); Ioann Maria Stacewicz (SHL); Judith Townend (LPS); Alban Webb (SHL); Dean Wilson (LPS).
The Sussex Surveillance Group (SSG) – a cross-university network established in 2016 – runs a programme of interdisciplinary workshops and seminars that brings together academics from journalism, history, philosophy, geography, law, sociology, criminology, informatics, psychology, politics, international development and digital humanities and Mass Observation. We explore critical approaches to understanding the role and impact of surveillance techniques, their legislative oversight and systems of accountability in the countries that make up what are known as the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence alliance (United Kingdom, America, Canada, New Zealand, Australia), and identify lessons to be learnt by developing countries in the process of building surveillance capabilities. In this, we are motivated by three interrelated concerns. In what ways are surveillance practices changing public, corporate and governmental behaviour and what are the implications for democratic society? How are digital technologies and computational cultures reconceptualising the role and purpose of surveillance in the Twenty-First Century? What effective mechanisms of accountability are available to scrutinize and monitor surveillance activities?
The SSG emerged from two ‘masterclass’ seminars supported by the Sussex Humanities Lab and organised by Dr Paul Lashmar (MFM) and Dr Alban Webb (SHL) in 2016. The first seminar, featuring investigative journalist Duncan Campbell and former NSA Technical Director and whistle-blower William Binney, examined bulk data collection in the context of the UK Investigatory Powers Bill (now Act). At the second, Dr Lina Dencik (Cardiff University) reported on the impact of the Snowden intelligence leaks, three years on.
In addition: the moral implications of personal bulk data collection were explored at a seminar convened by the Sussex Centre for Social and Political Thought; Dr Paul Lashmar is Co-Investigator on the ESRC-funded Data Psst! Network; and Dr Judith Townend (LPS) leads, with Guardian Media Group, research involving an expert group of journalists, NGOs and policy-makers and lawyers, which has led to a report on surveillance and journalistic source protection that was launched in Parliament in February 2017.
- Text Analysis Group (TAG)
The TAG laboratory was co-founded by Professor David Weir and Dr Jeremy Reffin. We have a team of 14 PhD students and research fellows. See here for further details.
TAG is part of a long line of AI research at Sussex, starting in the 1960's. We conduct research in NLP, the analysis of text and language by computers, and apply these technologies to the interpretation of text documents, social media and other communications, working with business, government and others.
- The Lysander Flights: A story told through digital cartography
Developing innovative methods to explore and curate historical data relating to objects and people in space and time. Watch this space for further information.
- The Poor Law: Small Bills and Petty Finance
PI: Alannah Tomkins (Keele)
Co-I: Tim Hitchcock (Sussex)
Research Fellow: Louise Falcini (Sussex)
Research Associate: Peter Collinge (Keele)
In collaboration with volunteer researchers this project investigates the lives of those concerned with the Old Poor Law through a little used class of records – overseers’ vouchers
Funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
- Tools of Knowledge
PI: Prof Liba Taub (Cambridge University)
Co-I: Dr Alexander Butterworth (Sussex)
Co-I: Dr Rebekah Higgitt (National Museums Scotland)
Co-I: Dr Boris Jardine
Co-I: Dr Joshua Nall
The project ‘Tools of Knowledge: Modelling the Creative Communities of the Scientific Instrument Trade, 1550-1914’.based in the Whipple Museum at the University of Cambridge, will begin on 1 Jan 2021.
Working with an interdisciplinary team, 'Tools of Knowledge' will apply cutting-edge methods of digital analysis to data on almost four centuries of the scientific instrument trade in Britain. The project will provide highly accessible information on the history of science, specifically as it relates to commerce, industry, teaching, and questions of local, national and international geography.
It will be grounded in the existing Scientific Instrument Makers, Observations and Notes (SIMON) dataset due to Dr Gloria Clifton and held by the National Maritime Museum, comprising more than 10,000 records on individual instrument makers and firms from Great Britain and Ireland. The project is in partnership with Royal Museums Greenwich and the Science Museum, London.
In this time when so many people everywhere are working digitally, Tools of Knowledge will provide quick information in addition to deep context on thousands of objects in museum collections all around the world.
Funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
- Visualising Uncertainty
Led by Jo Lindsay Walton (SHL) and Polina Levontin (Imperial), in collaboration with the Analysis under Uncertainty for Decision-Makers Network (AU4DM), the Alan Turing Institute, the designer Jana Kleineberg, and researchers from Imperial and Warwick, this project explores the use of visualisation and other perceptualisation methods to incorporate uncertainty information into decision-making. The project has involved workshop days with AU4DM, The Conduit, and Dstl, and the open publication of Visualising Uncertainty: A short introduction (2020).