Issue 9 (95)
Source Studies and Historical Memory in the Context of Digital Humanities
Volume: 11
Publication date: 15.10.2020
1000 RUB / 10.0 SU


The profound changes in the methodology, structure and content of humanitarian knowledge that took place at the turn of the century were accompanied by a rethinking of the social role of historical science and its capabilities in the context of globalization and the rapid development of information technologies, including those aimed at working with the individual and mass consciousness (Hi-Hume). Among the historical subdisciplines that have undergone processes of methodological and conceptual transformation in recent decades, there is a group that, while responding to the challenges of the time, nevertheless retains its professional identity to a greater extent than other branches of modern historical knowledge. These are source studies and special (auxiliary) historical disciplines, which occupy a very special place in the system of not only historical, but also, more broadly, humanitarian knowledge. Due to the fact that it is within the framework of these disciplines that methods of analysis and the necessary tools for criticizing and interpreting historical sources of almost all types are developed, these disciplines can be compared to a kind of “exact sciences” in the system of humanitarian knowledge. Developments in the field of source studies and special historical disciplines, which together represent an ideal model of interdisciplinary interaction, can also significantly help in the development of mechanisms for inter- and transdisciplinary approaches and methods, both within the framework of humanitarian knowledge in general, and in the development of research at the junction of humanitarian and other sciences. In turn, the development of models and the improvement of methods of interdisciplinary interaction will significantly increase the effectiveness of scientific developments in the field of humanitarian knowledge and in the field of science in general due to the integrative nature of the modern stage of scientific knowledge.

The first part of this issue presents articles prepared by scientists from various scientific, educational, archival and museum institutions of the Russian Federation — Institute of World History at the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow), St. Petersburg Institute of History at the Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg), Institute of International Relations and World History of Lobachevsky University (Nizhny Novgorod), Tver State University (Tver), Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts (Moscow), Staritsk Museum of Local Lore (Staritsa). All articles are united by the search for new methods of identifying and researching information from various sources, as well as the presentation of research results.

Published studies show both a wide problematic and chronological repertoire, as well as a variety of research approaches and practices in the field of source studies and special historical disciplines, including working with online collections of digitized Latin and Greek manuscripts and books, as well as the use of GIS technologies for the analysis and presentation of information of the late antique and medieval sources.

The first block of papers demonstrates various aspects of the application of GIS technologies in the study of Russian medieval sources. Two articles are of a general nature. Alexey A. Frolov’s work is the first experience of an integrated approach to the study of historical and geographical sources — from their publication to the creation of geodatabase and web maps on their basis. The article by Alexey A. Golubinsky is devoted to new trends in the digitization of manuscripts and scientific reference apparatus in the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts. Four articles present the results of research on particular issues, the study of which allowed the authors to demonstrate new methodological techniques both in source study and in the use of GIS technologies. Questions of localization of the graveyards of the Tver half of the Bezhetskaya Pyatina according to the data of the Cadastre Book of 1545 are presented in the article by Yuliya V. Stepanova and Pavel V. Gavrilov. With the help of statistical analysis with the use of GIS technologies, Sergey S. Kutakov reconstructed the maps of settlements and land tenure in the Tver district of the 16th century. Anna I. Savinova traced the formation of palace volost’s on the territory of Bezhetsk district in the 1660s. Study of boundary plans of Nizhny Novgorod at the end of the 18th century using the method of network analysis allowed Anna A. Akasheva to restore the prototype, originals and copies of these plans, as well as to recreate the process of their preparation.

The second block of papers demonstrates new approaches in source study of late antique and medieval sources. The works of Marina A. Kurysheva and Boris L. Fonkich are dedicated to the Greek manuscript tradition, demonstrating the possibilities of paleographic analysis in the dating of manuscripts of the 8th — 10th centuries. The article by Alexey S. Shchavelev shows methods of working with a large array of Greek sources of different genres from the end of the 9th — the middle of the 10th century in order to identify their information about the activities of translators in Byzantium. The paper by Alexandra V. Chirkova is devoted to the study of Latin manuscripts (papal privileges of the second half of the 12th century), who analyzed the identifying role of the drawn elements in scribal marks on manuscripts. In the work of Elena V. Kazbekova, a comparative analysis of the parchment of the 42-line Bible of Gutenberg from Berlin and Göttingen was carried out, which made it possible to describe in detail the types of repair of parchment of the 15th century. The article by Ekaterina N. Kirillova shows the possibilities of researching such type of sources as craft and trade regulations and reveals methods for reconstructing the history of a medieval city based on the materials of the “Book of Crafts” in Paris. The importance of Islamic geographical writings for the study of navigation routes and cross-cultural contacts in the Southern Mediterranean at the end of the 13th — first third of the 14th century is shown in the paper by Irina G. Konovalova. In the work of Alexander P. Tchernik, attention is drawn to the large and still underestimated role of monuments of material culture in the study of medieval heraldry, and in the study of Daria S. Staroskolskaia, the role of narrative sources in the study of early heraldry is analyzed. On the basis of a detailed analysis of Augustine’s works, the article by Filipp V. Petrov proposes a technique for reconstructing his ideas about a person. 

The second part of the issue echoes the first one in the aspects of new challenges which digital culture establishes to researchers in the social and humanitarian fields. One of the most promising themes at the intersection of history and such scientific areas as epistemology, political science, sociology, cultural studies, frontline research is a wide research field of memory about the past in general and of various mechanisms and ways of memory formation: historical, cultural, collective. Preserving what has disappeared with the help of human memory, experiencing this practice for the following life is directly related to understanding the phenomenon of memory itself, and history, and technologies for its preservation at the present stage of technological development. In the era of digitalization, when virtually any event can not only be interpreted as you like, but also changed, and the data presented in the documentary and public space about it could be even falsified, the contradictions that historians traditionally identify when working with factual material related to a particular event require a comprehensive understanding. A certain degree of divergence of interpretations of the same events at the level of individuals, experts, communities, states, and the “abundance” of different memories presents a lot of problems, primarily related to the formation of identity and the change and emergence of new channels of communication and manipulation, including at the interstate level. 

This issue presents researches that reveal various aspects of this problem, and that is why the authors are philosophers, political researches, and historians. This issue involves a wide range of articles — from case studies devoted to the representation of particular events, to understanding and highlighting general trends that allow us to analyze the status of historical science, mass historical consciousness, models of memory policy, and commemorative practices in modern society. This issue contains articles prepared by researches from the State Academic University of Humanities, the Faculty of Political Science of Lomonosov Moscow State University, the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow), Astrakhan State University (Astrakhan), and the National Research Tomsk State University (Tomsk). 

The first part of the articles is devoted to the theoretical development of the phenomenon of “collective memory”. Full Member of Russian Academy of Sciences Vladislav A. Lektorsky considers the possibility of the existence of “eternal memory” without oblivion in the digital age as the main threat to individual and collective autonomy, the human in men, demonstrating the key differences between digital memory and natural memory. Elena O. Trufanova emphasizes the fundamental epistemological difference between knowledge and opinion in the study of the conflict of memories at the individual and collective levels, which is intensified due to the active use of digital means of information transmission. The concept of collective memory, using the example of the scientific community, is clarified and the mechanisms of its formation in the digital environment are revealed, that is shown in the article by Alexandra F. Yakovleva. 

The world of values at the intersection of the virtual and real worlds allows us to talk about memory as a set of codes, a common symbolic environment where public discussion about politics is conducted, that is based on the analysis of online comments of collective memory about the Russian Civil War provided by Alexander Yu. Bubnov. In two articles by Sergey V. Volodenkov and Veronika L. Sharova which are also based on the analysis of the Internet space, referring to the phenomenon of digital “memory wars” and the mechanisms of rewriting history on the Internet, show how historical memory becomes a battleground of political forces using a wide variety of information and digital technologies. The article by Anna P. Romanova and Maria M. Fedorova is devoted to the attitudes to the past, present, and future, and more broadly to the process of the commemoration of the youth, the so-called digital generation, which will continue to act as a key carrier of historical memory models in their societies. The article by Serguey N. Yakushenkov shows how the meanings of tradition and innovation constantly change, interchange, and how they have supplemented in the conditions of frontier liminality.

In the year of the 75th Anniversary of the Victory in The Great Patriotic War, a wide range of issues of memory and commemoration policy are being updated in various competitive discourses about historical responsibility and justice in the modern media space, contributing to the emergence of new myths and the redistribution of power resources. Daniil A. Anikin provides a comprehensive analysis of the process of constructing historical responsibility by religious actors of the memory policy, using the example of the media discourse of the Russian Orthodox Church about The Great Patriotic War, demonstrating the features of competition in the symbolic space. The article by Rustam Yu. Sabancheev is devoted to the research of commemorative practices in the digital environment, paying special attention to the forms and meaning of the narrative. The article by Margarita I. Sukhanova examines commemoration as a political process based on ideological attitudes and its mnemonic actors that serve to legitimize the political regime through new mythological images. 

This is also related to the process of preserving the historical and cultural memory of regions, aimed at preserving the identity integrity and cultural unity, also including the context of globalization, that is studied in the article by Maxim S. Stichinsky. The case of the article by Yury A. Kurdin, Alexander R. Panov, and Baltash N. Karipov is the process of formation and research of local historical memory on the example of the Nizhny Novgorod province. A clear example of the struggle for the formation of an ideological space and the competition between the federal and regional political elites on the example of Tatarstan is found in the study of Alexander V. Ovchinnikov. A joint article by Natalia N. Emelyanova and Denis E. Letnyakov is devoted to the potential of overcoming antagonistic memory regimes and the prospects of building a supranational historical narrative jointly by the States of the same region on the example of Russia, Iran, Turkey, China, and India.

Painting on the cover: Ivan Grave

Issue publications 9 (95)
GIS-technologies in Contemporary Source Studies
New in Source Studies of Medieval Sources
Historical Memory in the Digital Space
Politics of Memory and Commemoration