Dear “We the Humanities” Readers—
I began my week of blogging from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA, last night, actually as I rode back in a car from an Independence Day four-day fast, abstaining from all media and digital contact, without cell phone, hotspot connection, 4G tablet, laptop or McDonald’s parking lot with wifi. No satellite linkup either. In a cabin on a river with a bunch of bookworms. I hadn’t really recognized that my connectivity would really be nil, so I apologize for my digital absence.
But I am back and plan to guide my post along four different paths of engagement. They reflect the work I am doing this week:
Strand 1 is strictly academic, Alois Riegl, Friedrich S Krauss and the Formation of Collaborative Ethnographic Networks in 19th C. Vienna, #Riegl #FSKrauss
in fact. I’m refining a text from my dissertation (about to burst forth) about the development of liberal, cosmopolitan ethnography in Vienna, 1883-1895.
A vibrant discourse of notably refined, politically engaged and cosmopolitan qualities, including an intriguing set of overlapping social networks that I began to record with simple tools of social network mapping. I would love to tell you abut them.
Chances are you have not heard of Alois Riegl, art historian and theorist of historic preservation for civic nationalism; or Friedrich S. Krauss, gadfly, innovator in ethnographic practice in designing questionnaires for South Slavic folklore. Each described his fieldwork, as professional steward, of culture in the terms of ethnographic practice and developed intellectually within the circles of the Vienna Anthropological Society.
And I will try to make their names resonate with other figures from 19th century formations of national institutions of cultural study in Europe and North America. The Viennese circles were surprisingly vibrant in their perception of cultural ethnography as a field of Kulturwissenschaft, cultural studies that was framed as an Enlightenment impulse to push back superstition; and to reframe ethnicity and battle forms of ethnic/racial nationalism with counter models of a civic nationalism for the Austrian Empire with its multiple ethnicities of “Nationalities.”
I’ll pose some provocative thoughts to you and share insight into an intriguing chapter of intellectual history and activism in support of the constitutional protections of ethnic and religious groups, under significant threat from anti-Semitism and forms of Slavic-Germanophone polarization.
To whet your appetite: Riegl was read with profound interest by Walter Benjamin and by members of the Bauhaus and many German intellectuals in the 1920’s. Krauss was the sometimes official, sometimes unofficial representative of the Austrian ethnographic establishment in Philadelphia in 1885, in Paris in 1889, in Chicago in 1893. He had a longstanding correspondence with Franz Boas, the German anthropologist who emigrated to the US, and held crucial positions at Columbia University. at the National Museum of Natural History in New York and as head of the anthropology department at Columbia.
This social network material becomes my second path of engagement:
Social Network Mapping for the Humanities, #dh #netmap
I would like to engage you with discussion about one tool I used successfully, NodeXL, a free add-on to Excel for Windows and to provoke some substantive contributions to relate topics of adding some powerful analytic-representational tools to the quiver of the poet and the humanist. But really to invite some discussion about issues that you see as related.
And the third path of my engagement this week: Cities of Learning, Open Badges (specific open metadata standard for digital badges) #CofL #openbadges
As I pursue the ongoing professional development of the American Humanist, the ineffable Digital Humanities have led me to several unconferences in Philadelphia and NJ in recent months. I offered workshops two weeks ago related to badges, verifiable and portable electronic credentials for participation and achievement of competencies, and their integration into City of Learning programs. Recently the City of Learning initiative has been developed with much research and funding for planning and implementation from the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago, the Mozilla Foundation (advocates open internet), the mayor of Chicago, and the Clinton Global Initiative. City of Learning is successful in Chicago and recently in other cities in creating partnerships in creation of an ecology of youth working towards work-related competencies in all sorts of cultural activities, service learning, work and apprenticeship, all of which are quantified with badges. Related uses of badges will be familiar to some in the UK, I presume. I will include links to all sorts of topics in the Twitter feed.
Finally, I am working in various channels to understand the nature of collaborative networks.
So from my historical work on Vienna comes:
Comparative Practices of Civic Nationalism in the late 19th Century Stewardship of History and Culture, cf. Kulturwissenschaften– hashtags to follow. This is my challenge to you: to formulate some terms of comparison that would enable us to share some ideas systematically. We could channel that exchange into another virtual space if that might prove useful.
My mode of engagement with discourse networks in Vienna in the late 19th century benefited from the contemporary network mapping concept being applied to that system of active creation of collaborative structures. We like the idea of creating collaborative structures now to study the development of collaborative structures then. I would be delighted to generate some discussion about the comparative histories between late 19th century institutions of stewardship of national culture: museums, ethnographic and folklore societies and the professionalizing practices of empirical social research.
And away we go!
please feel free to email me: