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World Factory Data Expedition

Join Cambridge-based performing arts company Metis Arts and the Digital Humanities Network in a collaborative one-day workshop on 7th February 2014 which will bring together a team of researchers to work on a digital quilt for the World Factory project. We are looking for researchers interested in researching content from a wide range of online sources, from digitised 19th century newspapers, maps and images to contemporary videos, blogs and tweets.

A bilingual patchwork of texts, images and videos, the digital quilt will provide a communication platform and research-sharing tool for international exchange and conversations between artists, and a way of involving the public in sharing stories and knowledge.

The digital quilt will knit together sources and references which the Metis Arts team are using as they develop an interdisciplinary performance project exploring the process of garment production in Manchester and Shanghai over the past two centuries in collaboration with Shanghai-based Chinese theatre director Zhao Chuan and his company Grass Stage. Interweaving the historical record of garment workers’ experiences in 19th Century Manchester with those of their contemporary counterparts in present-day China, the quilt will play a key role in the process of artistic exchange between the UK and China-based members of the World Factory project.

Following the design and commissioning of a shirt to be made in a Chinese factory, the World Factory project will culminate in performances in the UK and China which aim to make visible all the processes and skills that are involved in the creation of each piece of clothing that we wear. The term ‘mass production’ somehow implies a lack of people – and yet around 70 hands are involved in making each shirt, from cotton-picking to fabric production to sewing. Simultaneously, Zhao Chuan will be making a new piece of performance work in Shanghai based on the research shared with Metis.

We are looking for researchers interested in researching content for the digital quilt, using a wide range of online sources, from digitised 19th century newspapers, maps and images to contemporary videos, blogs and tweets.

The Data Expedition will also provide participants with an opportunity to reflect on the nature of digital ‘sources’ from a range of disciplinary perspectives, as well as a chance to both share and learn skills in analysing and combining historical and contemporary sources online. A full programme will be available shortly, but spaces are limited, so interested participants are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Participants with the following research interests are particularly encouraged to join us

  • Chinese language
  • Garment industries in UK and China
  • Data visualisation
  • 19th Century digital collections

 However, we welcome applications from researchers in any discipline.

The World Factory Data Expedition is inspired by the Data Expeditions organised by the Open Knowledge Foundation. Participants will need to be available on the day of the expedition between 10.30 and 5pm, and will need to bring their own device (laptop or tablet). The event takes place in Room 7 in the Faculty of History.

Book online here

Bookings close 31 January

We are a network of researchers at the University of Cambridge who are interested in how the use of digital tools is transforming scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. This transformation spans both the content and practice of humanities research, as the diffusion of digital technologies opens up new fields of study and generates research questions which breach traditional disciplinary boundaries.

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