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Call for papers n° 6: Digital Heritage and Heritagization

Deadline for abstract submissions: DECEMBER 15, 2014

Special issue edited by Francesca Musiani (ISCC, CNRS, Paris-Sorbonne, UPMC) and Valérie Schafer (ISCC, CNRS, Paris-Sorbonne, UPMC).

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The notion of ‘digital heritage’ outlined by UNESCO in 2003, in the frame of its Charter for the Preservation of Digital Heritage1, designates both “digitized” and “born digital” resources (the latter being defined as resources for which “there is no other format but the digital object”). This dual meaning entails a reflection on digital heritage that is able to encompass continuity and long-term processes, as well as ruptures and breakdowns. Indeed, it calls for reflections about the ways in which digital resources can become or be qualified as heritage, but also about the ways in which heritage is ‘appropriated’ by the digital world. It therefore invites to pursue reflections, grounded in the social sciences, such as those on the ‘heritage question’ (Amougou, 2004) and what constitutes today the notion of heritage itself, as well as its ‘reinvention’ (Bourdin, 1984).

The rise of ‘digital heritage’ calls for empirical investigations on both its publics – existing or expected/envisaged – and its promoters, producers, preservers (Mussou, 2012). These investigations also need to explore institutions and their policies – public and private, collective and individual – shaping preservation and archiving practices in this field. The controversies that these policies raise (e.g. those that concern the ‘right to be forgotten’ and the right to memory), as well as the interactions of public authorities with preservation institutions (or among these institutions themselves), are interesting to analyze for the light they shed on the socio-technical and political dimensions of ‘digital heritage’, as it becomes institutionalized.

The practices and procedures contributing to the shaping and the legitimization of digital heritage entail a number of choices, trials, tests, intertwined ‘scales of action’, and a social “work” undertaken by a variety of actors, including professional associations, amateurs, the public at large, libraries, museums, research groups volunteering to be in charge of specific archiving tasks or initiating preservation policies, international institutions or clusters of entities such as UNESCO or the International Internet Preservation Consortium.

A number of dynamics have contributed to shape, qualify and define ‘born-digital’ documents as heritage: the creation of the Internet Archive foundation in 1996, followed by the appearance of its famous Wayback Machine (allowing to look for, and explore, specific feats of the Web past) and Brewster Kahle’s project to archive the “entire Web”; the Archive Team’s ‘rescue’ of online spaces such as Geocities or Mobileme; the institutional archiving of the Web, since 2006, by French institutions such as the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Institut national de l’audiovisuel; the archiving of Twitter by the United States Library of Congress. All these dynamics are a testament to the plurality of actors engaged in this process, their incentives, their objectives at times complementary, at times divergent.

Insofar, ‘born digital’ heritage has been investigated with less attention than ‘digitized’ heritage (Dufrêne, 2013 ; Bachimont, 2014). Moreover, its exploration needs to be associated with reflections on another type of heritage, which may be defined as ‘heritage of the digital’ or ‘digital technologies as heritage’ and is constituted by hardware, software and related documentation, preserved and displayed thanks to the efforts of individuals, associations, museums of science, technology and computing, and a number of increasingly successful exhibitions (dedicated, e.g., to video games). These different directions converge towards a process of ‘heritagization’ (defined as patrimonialisation by Davallon, 2006), which is also worthy of exploration.

What do digital heritage (and the processes of heritagization) tell us about the relationship of our societies to their heritage, and to the digital itself? What happens when it is no longer enough to ‘digitize’ culture, but culture is, at once, digital? What are the consequences on heritage and is uses – social, cultural, political, economic and scientific?

Research directions

By means of empirical investigations, this issue of RESET wishes to contribute to shed light on the policies that shape, manage and develop digital heritage (Illien, 2011), as well as the actors and the issues underlying processes of heritagization. We propose three (not exhaustive) research directions for this theme, within which articles may be embedded (but do not necessarily have to): The shaping of digital heritage (Axis 1), Digital Heritagization (Axis 2), and Digital heritage and social legacy (Axis 3).

The shaping of digital heritage

This axis will analyse the emergence and the ‘shaping’ of digital heritage, since UNESCO’s Charter for the Preservation of Digital Heritage has legitimized its exploration as a matter of pressing concern (2003 ; see also Lusenet, 2007).

Investigations addressing the issues, the strategies of appropriation of digital heritage, the perimeters of its preservation, as well as comparative studies of policies and preservation tools between different countries or actors, may find their place in this axis.

Digital Heritagization

The study of discourses and ideologies accompanying these initiatives and the analysis of the publics of these digital cultural forms will allow to precise the contours of a digital heritage – and a heritage of the digital – which is in the process of finding its shape(s) and its social, political and economic dimensions. The diversity of actors involved in the processes of heritagization also opens up the possibility to undertake analyses of their incentives, motivations, strategies, interactions.

Digital heritage and social legacy

Digital heritage needs to be embedded in a long-term perspective, which encompasses the relationship of societies to their heritage, so as to interrogate continuities and ruptures (Oury, 2012). Indeed, it calls for a renewed reflection on the notions of ‘common goods’ and ‘immaterial heritage’ (Jadé, 2012), the universality versus the geographical boundaries of heritage (Di Méo, 2008), the issue of the ‘patrimonial valuation’ of documents, or that of the ‘social status’ of objects (Davallon, 2006). Deserving attention are also the patrimonial value that some communities may attribute, e.g., to the preservation of specific discussion groups (Usenet communities, Google Groups etc.), or the willingness to pass knowledge of new forms of communication and expression on to future generations.

Finally, we need to take into consideration the articulation of these issues with ‘data markets’, broadly conceived, which are presently thriving; in particular, research would do well to explore the legal and judicial questions raised in terms of civil liberties, copyright, the preservation of personal data integrity, the right to be forgotten and the right to be remembered (Dulong de Rosnay, Musiani, 2012).

Calendar and practical information

The abstracts (700 words maximum) are due by December 15, 2014. They should be sent to the following address:

The proposal, written in either English or French, should state the research question, the methodology, and the theoretical framework used. It will focus on the scientific relevance of the proposed article in light of the existing literature and the call for papers, and may be accompanied by a short bibliography.

We would like to draw the authors' attention to a special section called Revisiting the Classics, devoted to new readings of classical authors and theories in light of the Internet.

The abstracts will be reviewed anonymously by the issue coordinators and the members of the editorial board. Authors of submissions selected at this stage will be asked to e-mail their full papers by May 5, 2015.

The journal Reset also accepts submissions to its “Varia” section, open to scholarly work in the humanities and social sciences dealing with an Internet-related object or method of research.


The Editorial board:



Amougou Emmanuel (2004). « Les sciences sociales et la question patrimoniale », in Emmanuel Amougou‬‬, Olivier Chadoin‬‬, Bruno Fayolle Lussac‬, Paulette Girard‬‬, Patrice Godier‬‬, Radian Gurov‬‬, André Kocher‬‬. La Question patrimoniale‬ : De la "patrimonialisation" à l’examen des situations concrètes‬. Paris, L’Harmattan. ‬‬‬‬‬

Abbate Janet (2012). « L’histoire de l’Internet au prisme des STS », Le temps des médias, n° 18, 170-180.

Bachimont Bruno (2014). Patrimoine et numérique : technique et politique de la mémoire, INA.

Barats Christine (ed.) (2013). Manuel d’analyse du Web en sciences humaines et sociales. Paris, Armand Colin.

Boczkowski Pablo & Lievrouw Leah (2008). « Bridging STS and communication studies : Scholarship on media and information technologies », in Hackett, Edward, Amsterdamska, Olga, Lynch, Michael, Wajcman, Judy (eds.). The Handbook of Science and Technology Studies. Cambridge, MA : The MIT Press.

Bourdin Alain (1984). Le patrimoine réinventé. Paris, PUF.

Bortolotto Chiara (2011). Le patrimoine culturel immatériel : Enjeux d’une nouvelle catégorie. Paris, Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme.

Bourdeloie Hélène (2013). « Ce que le numérique fait aux sciences humaines et sociales », tic&société [En ligne], vol. 7, n° 2, mis en ligne le 09 juin 2014. URL : http://; DOI : 10.4000/ticetsociete.1500

Brügger Niels (2012). « When the Present Web is Later the Past : Web Historiography, Digital History, and Internet Studies », Historical Social Research, vol. 37, n° 4, 2012, 102-117.

Davallon Jean (2006). Le don du patrimoine : Une approche communicationnelle de la patrimonialisation. Paris, Hermes sciences publications.

Davallon Jean. « Du patrimoine à la patrimonialisation », Entretien avec Jean-Marc Lauret,

Derrot Sophie, Fauduet Louise, Oury Clément & Peyrard Sébastien (2012). « Preservation Is Knowledge : A community-driven preservation approach ». 9th International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects (iPRES), Canada.

Di Meo Guy (2008). « Processus de patrimonialisation et
 construction des territoires »,

Dufrene Bernadette, Ihadjadene Madjid & Bruckmann Denis (eds.) (2013). Numérisation du patrimoine : Quelles médiations ? Quels accès ? Quelles cultures ?. Paris, Hermann.

Döring Nicola (2006). « Personal Home Pages on the Web: A Review of Research », Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 7: 0. doi: 10.1111/j.1083-6101.2002.tb00152.x

Dougherty Meghan, Meyer Eric, Madsen Christine & Van Den Heuvel Charles, THOMAS, Arthur, WYATT, Sally (2010). Researcher Engagement with Web Archives : State of the Art. London, JISC.

Dulong De Rosnay Mélanie & Musiani Francesca (2012). « The Preservation of Digital Heritage : Epistemological and Legal Reflections », ESSACHESS - Journal for Communication Studies, vol. 5, no 2(10), Communication and memory, 81-94.

Dulong de Rosnay Mélanie (2011). « Réappropriation des données et droit à la rediffusion », Hermès, n° 59, CNRS Éditions, 65-66.

Fuller Matthew (2008). Software Studies : A Lexicon. Cambridge, MA : The MIT Press.

Georges Fanny (2011). « Mémoire humaine et expérience de soi par le web : la métaphore du profil », Médiation et information (MEI), n° 32, 147-158.

Illien Gildas (2011). « L’archivage du web à l’international : “ Une histoire politique de l’archivage du web : le consortium international pour la préservation de l’internet” », Bulletin des bibliothèques de France, n° 2, 60-68.

Jade Mariannick (2012). Le patrimoine immatériel : Perspectives d’interprétation du concept de patrimoine. Paris, L’Harmattan.

Kalay Yehuda, Kvan Thomas & Affleck Janice (2008). New Heritage : New Media and Cultural Heritage. New York : Routledge.

Lusenet Yola (2007). « Tending the Garden or Harvesting the Fields : Digital Preservation and the UNESCO Charter on the Preservation of the Digital Heritage », Library Trends, vol. 56, 1, 164-182.

Manovich Lev (2001). The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MA : The MIT Press.

Masanes Julien (2006). Web Archiving. Berlin Heidelberg, Springer.

Merzeau Louise (2013). « L’Intelligence des traces », Intellectica, n° 59, 115-135.

Mussou Claude (2012). « Et le Web devint archive : enjeux et défis », Le Temps des Médias, n° 19, 259-266.

Oury Clément (2012). « Une simple adaptation ? L’héritage du dépôt légal face à la mutation numérique », Implications philosophiques. mutation-numerique/

Paloaue-Berges Camille & Schafer Valérie (2014). « Les archives des réseaux numériques : périmètres, enjeux, défis », Culture et Recherche n° 129, dossier « Les archives », 68-69.

Rogers Richard (2013). Digital Methods. Cambridge, MA, The MIT Press.

Van Den Heuvel Charles & Dougherty Meghan (2009). « Historical infrastructures for Web archiving: Annotation of ephemeral collections for research », Media in Transition MIT6 conference.

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