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Nothing New Under the Sun? Computational Humanities and the Methodology of History

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Proceedings (peer-reviewed)
Author Piotrowski Michael, Fafinski Mateusz,
Project An Agile Approach Towards Computational Modeling of Historiographical Uncertainty
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Proceedings (peer-reviewed)

Editor , Karsdorp Folgert; , Wevers Melvin; , McGillivray Barbara; , Nerghes Adina
Page(s) 171 - 181
Title of proceedings CHR2020: Proceedings of the Workshop on Computational Humanities Research
Place Amsterdam

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


The example of historiography shows that quantitative methods have already been part of the humanities for a long time. Such methods alone therefore cannot be constitutive of the computational humanities (CH). It is also problematic and unsustainable to conceive it as a kind of “toolbox” of quantitative methods, as it places CH outside of the methodological traditions of the humanities disciplines. Instead, we need to remember that disciplines are defined by their research objects and the research questions they tackle. This means that we need to distinguish between applied and theoretical CH, and that applied CH must be firmly placed in the methodological scope and tradition of their mother disciplines. We posit that the supposed dichotomy of qualitative and quantitative methods is fallacious: neither will quantitative methods replace qualitative approaches in history, nor are they unnecessary—they are complementary.