Students on a theater trip in Iceland.


Big Data and Testimonies

6, rue du Colonel Combes
Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 17:30 to 20:00

The Visual History Archive is in the process of transcribing all of their collection, presenting new challenges and opportunities for engaging the 54,000 testimonies contained in the collection. This roundtable, organized by the George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention will bring together experts on the study of Holocaust survivors and qualitative researchers in the social sciences to think through the challenges of building knowledge of survivors’ experiences and the Holocaust. How can we effectively study the enormous amount of data collected on the oral histories of Holocaust survivors?

With the following guests, giving presentations on the following:

Tim Cole; Professor of Social History and Director of the Brigstow Institute, University of Bristol.

Reading one testimony, distant reading 54,000.

This talk discusses some of the opportunities and challenges of distant reading oral history transcripts using corpus linguistics methods. From experimental work that Tim and the wider team ( this talk addresses both potential and problems in working with digital humanities approaches to read this massive archive en masse.

Sharon Kangisser; Director of the Central Archives for the History of the Jewish People and Director of the Eli and Diana Zborowski Centre for the Study of the Holocaust and its Aftermath, Yad Vashem.

Finding the individual in multiple collections.

Over the past 70 years many survivors of the Holocaust have given their testimony to various collections and institutions - beginning in the immediate post war period and continuing until today. This presentation will examine the archival challenges involved in mapping out the stories of individuals over time and finding testimonies in various collections. It will also discuss how various retellings expand scholars' understanding of the traumatic event and it's meaning for survivors.

Ruthellen Josselson; Ph.D. Professor of clinical psychology at The Fielding Graduate University.

Amalgamating understanding in narrative analysis.

Narrative researchers, situated differently, study different people - even from the same data set. We are then met with the challenge of building a knowledge base that can amalgamate the insight and understandings across researchers. This form of qualitative meta-analysis entails the engaged complication of data as more nuanced discussion of findings ensues from the analytic process. This can serve a more thorough understanding of the experiences represented in the narratives.


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