A higher form of hermeneutics? The digital humanities in political historiography
Faculty of Arts. History
BMGN : the Low Countries historical review
, p. 164-170
University of Antwerp
Rens Bods optimism with regard to digital research tools also seems to be justified for the field of political history. In particular, these tools will enable us to ask questions that were hitherto unthinkable, and try to answer them on an unenvisaged scale. Unlike that which Bod suggests, however, this development will not bring us closer to revealing some alleged universal patterns in history and therefore herald a new era of Positivism. On the contrary, the digital research tools will show us manifold differences, both diachronic and synchronic, in the way (groups of) political actors identified themselves and gave meaning to the world surrounding them. Moreover, they will enable us to relate these differences to a broad range of social variables. If we really want to test the validity of these relationships however, we will have to actually interpret the texts and read them hermeneutically in their precise historical contexts.