Maria José Aurindo visits the Lab

In September 2018 the Sussex Humanities Lab were delighted to host an Erasmus+ Visitor. In this post Maria José Aurindo from the Library of Estoril Higher Institute for Tourism and Hotel Studies, Portugal, describes the highlights of her time with us.

Sea, beach, buildings
Brighton

In September 2018, as a member of Museu Virtual do Turismo, I spent a week at the University of Sussex, sponsored by a mobility grant from the Erasmus+ programme. Mobility is one of the core activities in international cooperation, aiming to enhance the quality of higher education, and to promote connections and collaborations across Europe. In addition, an Erasmus+ Training Mission represents a fantastic opportunity for personal and professional development.

James Baker, Senior Lecturer in Digital History and Archives, co-coordinated the visit together with Sussex Humanities Lab Programme Manager Amelia Wakeford. James welcomed me and provided me with an extremely valuable professional experience week programme. I was able to engage with so much in such a short period at the University. I really wonder what we could do in a month-long visit!

James presented several lines of research he’s currently involved with, in particular highlighting digital forensics and projects like The Programming Historian. He also introduced me to the various operating modes of the Sussex Humanities Lab, and showed me how its flexible use of space helps to meet complex scheduling needs, and to foster a truly collaborative and interdisciplinary research environment.

Sunny day, grassy hill, tree and library
University of Sussex campus

I was also fortunate to have personalized tours of both the Library and the Keep (Sussex’s special collections archive). It was great to see the differences and similarities within the archive and library equipment’s and services, and to encounter all the great work that’s being done there: from Karen Watson embracing the challenge of producing interactive digital editions of the Virginia Woolf’s papers; to Samira Teuteberg exploring the German Jewish Collections; Amy Waldron’s ambition for new library study spaces; and Adam Harwood’s digital preservation advocacy mission.

We managed to discuss matters ranging from the curatorial concerns, digitalization calibration anxieties, the need for risk management regarding author’s rights, the recreation of physicality debates, low-cost preservation strategies, to the need to raise awareness for digital preservation.

I was also introduced to the challenges to the design of the new Heritage MA seen through the eyes of Wendy Hitchmough, Senior Lecturer in Art History. Her experience allowed me to think through several new research perspectives, from which I would highlight the strong need to consider the ecology of heritage visits, in both physical and virtual tours.

Picture of someone on stage, using a PowerPoint presentation
Nye Thompson discussing the Machine Gaze selfie at Messy Edge 2018

And – to conclude the visit – what could be better than a full day spent learning from the amazing projects presented at The Messy Edge 2018? The event, supported by the Sussex Humanities Lab, and part of Brighton Digital Festival, certainly broadened my research horizons, as theorists and practitioners presented on the rich variety of topics within digital humanities. This included everything from the right to be forgotten (something made more and more difficult in the dark age of connectionism); to the right to be represented and remembered (and the need to protect community generated archives from future erasure); from the conceptual landscapes of image and sound recognition; to surveillance, big data, and algorithmic governance; and much more.

Besides the professional experience, I also had the opportunity to get to know the beautiful and cosy city of Brighton – already a long-standing icon of my tourism imagery, and now a place that I’ve finally been able to visit in person!

I can say that my stay was truly rewarding, and it will undoubtedly be repeated. I would love for this visit to be the start of further work together.

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