Hearing history to understand how it is made: From sound bubbles to the “passe-ici.fr” web app

Audiovisual exploration
By Isabelle Backouche, Sarah Gensburger

English

Isabelle Backouche and Sarah Gensburger describe their experience in disseminating and promoting the scholarship that they produce. They are driven by their desire to share this knowledge with the widest possible audience, both for civic purposes and to meet the demands of their institutions that emphasise the usefulness of social science scholarship. For the past five years, they have overcome several obstacles to lend credence to the idea that scholars should play a key role in this undertaking, without turning the reins over to digital professionals. They have produced several recorded walking tours in Paris, based on the principle that social history must be anchored in the Paris geography. They have also co-produced a web app that distributes these walking tour recordings to a broad audience via smartphone. Aside from the social stakes, these two scholars also analyse the epistemological stakes of their media-based approach, showing that it is in no way removed from the demands of the historian’s craft. Their commitment to disseminating and promoting scholarship challenges certain prevailing trends in the research field, such as the “digital humanities”, a dizzying technician-centred approach that has gained popularity despite not being associated with any scholarly programme.
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