Ireland and UK expand cooperation with joint research awards in digital humanities

Posted: 4 August, 2021

Minister Simon Harris welcomes €6.5m boost for interdisciplinary research partnerships –

Tackling online hate in football, understanding digital feminism and mapping the history of typhoid in Dublin are just some of the new research projects that have been announced today by the Irish Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), as part of a partnership which will see Ireland and the UK bring together world-leading expertise in the digital humanities.

Digital humanities projects use digital methods and computational techniques as part of its research methodology. The projects will aim to develop new research techniques, bring innovative approaches to community engagement, and enhance cultural understanding and access to heritage. Projects partners include the Football Association of Wales, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Historic Environment Scotland, the British Museum, Sport Against Racism Ireland, Royal College of Physicians in Ireland and the Digital Repository of Ireland.

Among the research projects that will be funded are those led by the following:

  • ‘Tackling Online Hate in Football’ which will see Dr Gary Sinclair (Dublin City University) and Dr Mark Doidge (University of Brighton) explore the potential of digital technologies to transform understanding of online hate.
  • ‘Feminist Art Making Histories’ Dr Tina Kinsella (IADT) and Professor Hilary Robinson (Loughborough University) will collaborate on this project which aims to collect, curate and create an archive of oral histories and ephemera of the feminist art movement in the UK and Ireland from the 1970s onwards.
  • ‘Interactional variation online: harnessing emerging technologies in the digital humanities to analyse online discourse in different workplace contexts’ will see Dr Anne O’Keeffe (Mary Immaculate College) and Dr Dawn Knight (Cardiff University) examine how virtual workplace communication can improve in the new remote working environments created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Welcoming the joint awards, Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further & Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, said: “I am delighted to see these awards announced today, supported by the Irish Research Council. The ongoing partnership between the IRC and AHRC-UKRI will drive a step-change in the level of cooperation between these two islands in the growing field of digital humanities. The UK-Ireland digital humanities partnership is a timely reminder of both the appetite and the potential for UK-Ireland research collaboration, both ‘east-west’ and ‘north-south’. Maintaining and further building an international and a vibrant all-island higher education and research system is a key priority for government.”

Also commenting, Christopher Smith, AHRC Executive Chair and International Champion for UKRI said: “I am delighted to see that the strength of AHRC’s partnership with the Irish Research Council has enabled us to co-fund such an exceptional and diverse group of projects. Through cutting-edge approaches these projects powerfully capture the innovative potential of joining creativity in the arts and humanities with digital technologies and promise to achieve a new international benchmark in Digital Humanities research.”

Building on the UK-Ireland collaboration

The Research Grants call is part of the Fund for International Collaboration, a multi-million-pound fund supporting international collaborations which enhances the UK’s ability to build new, and strengthen existing, partnerships with global research and innovation leaders. The call is jointly led by the AHRC and the IRC. It builds on the ‘UK-Ireland Collaboration in the Digital Humanities’ scoping workshop that took place in Dublin on 22 and 23 October 2019 and the UK-Ireland Collaboration in the Digital Humanities Research Networking Call launched in 2020.

Peter Brown, Director of the Irish Research Council, added: “The awards we are jointly announcing today will not only enhance the integration of humanities and technology, but they will also facilitate UK and Irish researchers to widen their professional networks through collaboration and exchange of ideas, and to cultivate long-term links between Ireland and UK-based researchers.

“I am particularly pleased to see that many projects engage extensively with partners in the creative industries and cultural heritage organisations, demonstrating the huge potential for intersectoral synergies and the opportunity to create inclusive solutions, ranging from an exploration of the use of emerging digital technologies to transforming understanding of online practices to the provision of world-class digital research repositories. The engagement between disciplines, academic and non-academic organisations across Ireland and the UK adds up to an initiative which is truly rich in possibilities.”

Read about all of this year's awards here

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