Digital History

Digital methods are an essential part of my research.

Current projects

Two of my ongoing projects are making extensive use of digital tools, both in the framework of my EURECON project:

  • I am currently working on a network analysis of the European policymakers involved in economic and financial cooperation in the EEC from 1957 to 1992. I presented first results at the Historical Networks Conference and Networks Conference in the summer 2021.
  • and together with Enrico Bergamini I am working on a text mining analysis (in particular using guided LDA) on the records of the Delors Committee meetings. I presented preliminary results at a conference in Luxembourg in October 2020, and at a workshop on Digital Methods in Economics and History in Hambourg in October 2021.

Exploring 70 years of newspapers archives

At Bruegel, and together with Enrico Bergamini, Francesco Papadia and Giuseppe Porcaro, we ran a research project seeking to quantify and analyse national printed media discourses about Europe over the decades since the end of the second world war. Several results came out over the 2019-2021 period (and we are still working on refining the work):

•  A series of blogs outlined some preliminary results of our research: first about Le Monde (March 2019), second about Die Zeit and Der Spiegel (July 2019), and third about La Stampa (October 2019) 

• The Working Paper setting out the whole methodology written by Enrico Bergamini and myself came out in March 2021

• A summary blog post that came out in April 2021

With Henrik Müller, Giuseppe Porcaro and Tobias Schmidt we then explored the coverage about EU reforms in three leading business newspapers in a Working Paper in December 2022

Digital tools and day-to-day research

In a broader methodological sense for my day-to-day work, I blogged about my first steps in using Tropy and gave a keynote speech outlining my use of digital methods in historical research.

I have also published a book chapter, in French, that is a guide on social networks for researchers. The chapter is published in a volume edited by Frédéric Clavert, Étienne Cavalié, Olivier Legendre, et Dana Martin, Humanités numériques: mode d’emploi pour le chercheur en sciences sociales aux Presses de l’Université de Montréal.

Well before that, following my participation to the Digital Humanities Luxembourg (DHLU) Conference that took place in November 2013, I wrote up my presentation on the challenges of using online digital sources in international economic history in a blog post

I used text mining tools in the analysis of one key source for my EMS book, namely Helmut Schmidt’s visit to the Bundesbank in 1978.

The news have proved to be a source of reflections and comment on the uses, challenges and pitfalls of digital history.

  • The controversy over the loss of former Secretary General of the Élysée Palace Claude Guéant’s archives (unfortunately) shed light on some long-standing challenges facing historians.
  • The issue of the publication (or leak!) of the European Central Bank’s minutes of meetings has also raised much controversy. I analysed the October 2014 leak of the ECB minutes here; and the release of the first ECB “account of the monetary policy meeting of 21-22 January 2015” here.
  • I have written a couple of blog posts on the controversy about Hillary Clinton’s emails [the former US Secretary of State had used her personal email address instead of the official one while in office; as a consequence of that “emailgate” she asked to release publicly the emails]: the first blog is looking at the implications of this story for the historian, and the second one at how we can search (or not!) into the first batch of emails that have been released in May 2015.