Research at Humlab

There are ten or so researchers at Humlab who are all interested in humanistic issues in relation to information technology and the digital world. These researchers come from traditional backgrounds in fields such as the history of ideas, literature, ethnology, science and technology studies, English, linguistics, history didactics, religious studies, Sami studies and ancient history. There are also fifteen or so researchers active in the field at the Faculty of Humanities and in other parts of the university. Parts of their research is being carried out in close cooperation with Stanford University, within the scope of a major research programme entitled "Media Places", which is being financed by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. Humlab is also playing an active part in a number of projects financed by the Swedish Research Council, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, the European Research Council and other research funding bodies.

Humlab provides a technical and intellectual environment for this research, and its unique infrastructure allows research issues to be approached in new ways. Research is often carried out in cooperation with other parties both within and outside the university. Part of the project entitled "Imitatio Mariae - Jungfru Maria som förebild i det medeltida Sverige" [Imitatio Mariae - the Virgin Mary as a role model in mediaeval Sweden] funded by the Swedish Research Council the mediaeval church is staged by means of a series of research-related exhibitions using a range of Humlab screens. Other research projects are building new infrastructure by using "Facetted Browsing", for example. This is a platform for complex research data, such as environmental archaeological data and demographic data, developed at the lab. This system, which was originally developed as part of a framework project funded by the EU, has been used in around ten Swedish and international projects, including three projects funded by the Swedish Research Council.

External research projects involving Humlab include "Pinocchio går i kyrkan: Avatarers religiösa liv" [Pinocchio goes to church: the religious life of avatars] (the Swedish Research Council), "Naturen i narrativen: En studie av muntliga berättelser om miljö- och naturkatastrofer ur ett folkloristiskt och språketnografiskt perspektiv" [Nature in the narrative: a study of verbal tales of environmental and natural disasters from a folkloristic and language ethnographic perspective] (Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) and "Representationer och omkonfigureringar av det digitala i svensk litteratur och konst, 1950-2010" [Representations and reconfigurations of the digital world in Swedish literature and art, 1950-2010] (the Swedish Research Council, framework grant). 

Recent publications in journals include examples such as "Envisioning the Digital Humanities" (Digital Humanities Quarterly, 2012), "Anthropological places, digital spaces, and imaginary scapes: packaging a digital Sámiland" (Folklore: the journal of the Folklore Society, 2013), "Revisiting the TV object. On the site-specific location and objecthood of the Swedish television during its inception" (Television & New Media, 2013) and "Treading Old Paths in New Ways: Upper Secondary Students Using a Digital Tool of the Professional Historian" (Education Sciences, 2013). Recently published edited volumes involving at least one editor from HUMlab include Digital Religion, Social Media and Culture: perspectives, practices and futures (Peter Lang, 2012) and Hybrid Media Culture (Routledge, 2013).

Humlab has a large international flow of guests, and a remarkably high number of leading and promising researchers in the field have visited Umeå University. Since 2006, 17 postdoctoral researchers from universities such as Oxford, Stanford and Harvard have worked at Humlab and institutes at the Faculty of Humanities. Major events organised include the Media Places symposium in 2012: "Media Places: Infrastructure | Space | Media" and "Critically Making the Internet of Things" in 2011. December 2013, Humlab hosted a workshop on "Sorting the Digital Humanities Out". Humlab researchers take part in international research discussions and also in the development of the field of digital humanities. Keynote presentations in 2013 include Cecilia Lindhé's "Rethinking medieval spaces in digital environments" (Edinburgh, Digital Humanities and Social Sciences Conference) and Patrik Svensson's "The Humanistiscope: Exploring the Situatedness of Humanities Cyberinfrastructure" (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor).