Dr. Gertjan Plets

Researcher
Cultural History
Associate Professor
Cultural History
g.f.j.plets@uu.nl
Completed Projects
Project
Mining Historical Trajectories of Awareness: A machine learning approach to historicized sentiment mining (HistAware) 01.09.2020 to 01.07.2022
General project description

This project aims to use the sentiment pipeline to trace historical shifts in awareness. Many debates - whether about climate change, genetically modified foodstuffs, or #metoo - hint at a high form of awareness in our current global society. It is, however, far less evident where these sentiments are rooted in and how they have evolved over time. We aim to investigate this for the Dutch case by focusing on a genealogical study of central modifiers of awareness - (un)healthy, (not) harmful, etc. We are particularly interested in the roles of multinationals like Shell and Unilever as agents of change in these debates.

To do so, this project develops a historical sentiment analysis pipeline that is based on machine learning. The use of this text mining approach in historical scholarship has been hampered by the manner in which "sentiments" are usually implemented in thesauri and binary systems of sentiment qualifications (positive - negative; based on static lists). With this project we aim to make sentiment analysis more historically dynamic and context-specific.

Role
Researcher
Funding
Utrecht University Innovatiefonds IT
Project
CarbonCultures: Rewriting the fossil fuel history of the Netherlands 01.09.2020 to 31.08.2022
General project description

The Netherlands is a “petrostate”: since the colonial period oil and gas has defined both economy and politics. Today, remnants of fossil fuel extraction are disappearing. Therefore, it is urgent to decide how we want to remember gas and oil as cultural heritage. However, to date the history of gas and oil extraction has written by the industry itself. In this project students and historians of the UU will rewrite Dutch fossil fuel history. Open science mechanisms such as podcasts, online platforms and community meetings will ensure that this contested past is explored in collaboration with the wider public.

Role
Researcher
Funding
Utrecht University Fostering Open Science Practice Fund
Project members UU
Project
Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network program CHEurope: Critical Heritage Studies and the Future of Europe (2017-2020) 01.06.2017 to 01.06.2020
General project description

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network grant for the program CHEurope: Critical Heritage Studies and the Future of Europe - towards an integrated, interdisciplinary and transnational training model in cultural heritage research and management.

The consortium consists of 21 European academies and museums, led by the University of Gothenburg. Utrecht University participates in the € 3,9 million project with one of the 15 PhDs in the subprojects project “Mining transnational reference cultures in multilingual and multimedia repositories” that is developed with the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum. 

CHEurope aims to develop a new integrated theoretical and methodological framework to enhance the academic and professional training and open future job opportunities in cultural heritage preservation, management and promotion. Heritage has commonly been perceived through its contingent relationship to other areas, preventing it to be considered as a “legitimate” scientific discipline. Moreover, research and practice in this field are still too often seen as separate dimensions. Thus, there is an increasing need to address these diverging trends in the expanding heritage industry with a critical approach that situates cultural heritage in its social, economic and political frameworks, as well as in professional practice.

Bringing together a network of key European academic and non-academic organisations, the project will explore the processes by which heritage is “assembled” through practice-based research in partner institutions that connect students to their future job markets and publics. Our aim is to inform more conventional aspects of cultural heritage designation, care and management with a strong focus on present and future consumers. The project will develop an advanced learning strategy based on the emerging field of Critical Heritage Studies, which combines theoretical and instrumental knowledge at a transnational and interdisciplinary level, in a series of research seminars, summer schools and secondments.

The program is based on themes where cultural heritage is undergoing profound change, such as Heritage Futures, Curating the City, Digital Heritage, Heritage and Wellbeing and Management and Citizen Participation. In so doing, this research will have a direct impact on future heritage policies and be linked explicitly to new modes of training. These will enable future practitioners to facilitate a more democratic and informed dialogue between and across various heritage industries and their users, promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in this field.

Role
Researcher
Funding
EU grant Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network program