The e-documentation of the European Intangible Heritage: 
A Challenge for the Open Digital Humanities


Important dates

  • Due date for abstract submission: September 30, 2016
  • Notification of abstract acceptance: 
  • Workshop: November 4-5, 2016

An intensive workshop for young researchers in Philoxenia International Conference Center in Nicosia - Cyprus, 4-5, November 2016.

Behind us is the memory of our fathers;
In front of us are the eyes of our children


Rationale and objectives

Cyprus, Malta and Crete, three islands at the southern end of the EU, have been influenced by various civilizations due to their location. These islands are rich in history and cultural heritage (CH), while they face the same problems and share the same concerns regarding the preservation and e-documentation of their part. Over the last decade, many efforts took advantage of the recent technological and innovative development, and have attempted to record, curate, remediate, provide access, preserve and protect mostly the tangible CH. However, apart from tangible artefacts, CH encompasses a range of important intangible assets (e.g. folk dances, songs, lyrics, food and beverage recipes, legends, fairy tales, rituals, and handicraft) which are the focus of extensive Humanities research on collective knowledge of communities, skills, practices, expressions, art, fashion and representations that do not have a tangible form. UNESCO states on the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) the importance of ICH as a mainspring of humanity's cultural diversity and its maintenance is a guarantee for continuing creativity. To this end, not only certain elements of ICH have been lost forever or disappeared, but globalization, wars, financial crisis and the movement of people caused the diminishment of the unique culture of many communities and pose a risk for many other types of ICH.

To address the growing needs of this domain, we propose a short, intensive, interdisciplinary course which addresses the topic of ICH documentation, preservation and protection, so as to lay the foundations for developing knowledge in new methodologies and establishing novel skills, within the Open Humanities paradigm, targeting postgraduate students and early stage researchers. It will address issues of designing and developing a publicly accessible folklore archive that could store big data in high-quality, and make them freely available for research and education.

The event will be structured as a set of discussions and practical activities evolving around the topics listed below; rather than having a format of a set of traditional lectures, it aims to provide sufficient background to discuss needs, current ways of approaching them and give space for personal analysis and expansion of the knowledge. The discussions will always revert to the issue how openness is projects in the various aspects being discussed. To make the event focused, the case of folk dances will be explored as a central case study.


Target Audience

  • Young researchers
  • Senior professionals from the intangible heritage memory institutions
  • Postgraduate students which are working on dissertations on relevant topics.
  • Academicians
  • EC and local policy makers in the area of ICH preservation
  • Curators in the area of ICH


Content to be covered

  • What is the state of the art? What are the challenges of proper e-Documentation of intangible heritage?
  • What does it mean to build publicly accessible folklore archive (open access e-library)? What services would such an archive offer? Requirements related to scale and high quality. Relevance of big data and cloud computing.
  • What are the typical research and education scenarios this archive would have to cater for?
  • The case of folk dances: special methods and equipment for digitisation, modelling, glossary, thesaurus, standards and archiving.
  • The case of folk dances (cont’d). How to index, describe, document (audio visually, 2D, 3D), model, as well as enrich metadata on folk dances. Linking digital representation of intangible heritage with existing electronic resources of tangible heritage (collections of ethnographic materials, music instruments, literary works mentioning dances, photographic collections, fashion art of dancers).
  • Modern technological developments within the case study domain: automatic motion evaluators or motion search engines that are not based on simple keyword queries can be particularly useful for cross-cultural research, multi-disciplinary education and next generation online applications for smart devices (TV, tablets, and mobile phones).
  • How to connect the folk dance archive to aggregators (national aggregators, subject domain aggregators and Europeana).
  • Where else to look for connected material? Linked data and the challenges of linking existing digital ‘silos’.
  • Re-visiting quality requirements: what does it mean to represent accurately knowledge, notation, and semantics?
  • Standards and Thesaurus, Glossaries for Intangible Cultural Heritage documentation.
  • Re-visiting the case study: How to enhance the collection using geo Location technology in combination with the complexity of Europe’s reach diversity and multilingualism?
  • Discussion of personal research projects of the participants.
  • Re-visiting the typical use scenarios. How to aid research on similarities between dances from different countries, aiming to create the first digital ethno-choreology (dance ethnology)?
  • Establishing a platform for communication after the school and expanding the DARIAH-community.


Abstract submission

We invite short position abstracts (1 page) describing ideas covering the topics of the workshop. Submissions must be written in English.

Please complete the submission form, available here.



For any question, please contact the organizers through contact page.

Background photo By Laslovarga - Own work. CC BY-SA 3.0