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The Atlas of Holocaust Literature: a case study in interdisciplinary research

Our recent SHAPE-ID workshop – held online but originally planned to take place in Warsaw – explored the potential for inter- and transdisciplinary collaboration between digital humanities researchers and cultural heritage institutions. To deepen our discussion on this subject, we wanted to share with workshop participants a concrete example of the interaction between digital humanities and cultural heritage using the Atlas of Holocaust Literature, a project being developed by the Digital Humanities Centre at the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IBL PAN). Originally we intended to present the project to participants and subsequently take them on a walking tour to visit some of the places represented online, to discuss issues of how time and space are represented. Since the workshop had to move online due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, we prepared a virtual walk in video form.

The Atlas of Holocaust Literature, currently available only in Polish, is one of the scholarly digital collections on the New Panorama of Polish Literature platform, created and developed in IBL PAN. Digital collections published on our platform are created by combining scholarly knowledge, digital narrative structures and carefully selected visual material – prepared by a graphic designer or obtained from Cultural Heritage institutions such as museums and libraries.

The Atlas of Holocaust Literature is an example of fruitful interdisciplinary cooperation between researchers from different domains: digital humanities, Holocaust studies and cartography. Furthermore, it shows how tangible cultural heritage, like photographs  or handwritten testimonies, can be contextualised and situated in time and space by researchers. Working with selected Holocaust testimonies from the Warsaw Ghetto from the Ringelblum Archive, the research team extracted almost a thousand spatial units (addresses, routes, areas) and linked them with people and events. The result could be also treated as a cultural heritage collection, on the one hand, and a research tool for Holocaust scholars, on the other.

The Atlas is developed by an interdisciplinary team based at IBL PAN:

Project managers: Jacek Leociak, Bartłomiej Szleszyński

Concept of content: Jacek Leociak

Concept of digital collection: Bartłomiej Szleszyński

Project Coordination: Kajetan Mojsak

Authorship of entries in „Events” module: Jacek Leociak

Queries and preparation of content in „Places” and „People” modules: Aleksandra Engler-Malinowska, Aleksandra Karkowska-Rogińska, Dorota Krawczyńska, Bartłomiej Krupa, Jacek Leociak, Paweł Rams, Bartłomiej Starnawski

The concept of structure, functionality and mechanics of the digital collection: Bartłomiej Szleszyński, Agnieszka Szulińska, Konrad Niciński, Paweł Rams, Kajetan Mojsak

Graphic design, processing of visual elements: Agnieszka Zalotyńska

Content, graphics & maps input, linking: Kajetan Mojsak, Paweł Rams, Bartłomiej Szleszyński, Katarzyna Jarzyńska, Renata Rokicka

The concept of maps: Konrad Niciński, Agnieszka Zalotyńska

Creation of maps: Agnieszka Zalotyńska

Cartographer: Paweł Weszpiński

Photographs: Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute

Photographs acqusition: Konrad Niciński, Kajetan Mojsak

Tests, corrections: Agnieszka Szulińska

Programming: Krzysztof Goliński, Maciej Kalczyński


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