Migrating people, migrating data: Digital approaches to migrant heritage

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of the Japanese Association for Digital Humanities


Japanase Association for Digital Humanities


School of Arts and Humanities




Arthur, P. L., Ensor, J., van Faassen, M., Hoekstra, R., & Peters, N. (2018). Migrating people, migrating data: Digital approaches to migrant heritage. Journal of the Japanese Association for Digital Humanities, 3(1), 98-113. Available here


Migrants all over the world have left multiple traces in different countries, and this cultural heritage is of growing interest to researchers and to the migrant communities themselves. Cultural heritage institutions, however, have dwindling funds and resources to meet the demand for the heritage of immigrant communities to be protected. In this article we propose that the key to bridging this gap is to be found in new possibilities that are opened up if resources are linked to enable digital exploration of archival records and collections. In particular, we focus on the value of building a composite and distributed resource around migrants’ life courses. If this approach is used and dispersed collections held by heritage institutions can be linked, migrant communities can have access to detailed information about their families and researchers to a wealth of data—serial and qualitative—for sophisticated and innovative research. Not only does the scattered data become more usable and manageable, it becomes more visible and coherent; patterns can be discovered that were not apparent before. We use the Dutch-Australian collaborative project “Migrant: Mobilities and Connection” as an example and case study of this life course–centered methodology and propose that this may develop into a migration heritage template for migrants worldwide.



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