Opening up the humanities: an infrastructural opportunity

CLARIAH-VL Open Humanities Service Infrastructure


The CLARIAH-VL Open Humanities Service Infrastructure, funded for at least two years by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), is being developed by an interdisciplinary team of researchers, digital humanities experts and infrastructural specialists, from the universities of Ghent, Antwerpen, Leuven and Brussels, together with linguists from the Dutch Language Institution (INT).

CLARIAH-VL will offer a unique combination of high-quality and user-friendly tools and resources that can be seamlessly embedded into the everyday workflows of humanities researchers, designed to improve the utility, accessibility, reusability, and sustainability of their research processes and data.

Open humanities is a guiding principle for contemporary research. As researchers we need to demonstrate the relevance of the humanities for the general public, heritage community groups and policy makers. Collaborative research paradigms of co-creation and participatory engagement, sharing authority and actively engaging with different communities, are at the heart of our vision for the digital future of the humanities. For this, we need open humanities infrastructures to make it technically possible to share knowledge, including sharing and co-creating knowledge with non-specialist users and facilitate citizen science.

Just some of the tools CLARIAH will offer include:

  • a IIIF-enabled Corpus Management Platform, enabling researchers to build a research corpus from a variety digital resources and export the textual data for analysis with digital research tools
  • a participatory deep mapping platform to facilitate crowdsourcing a rich array of geo-spatially annotated resources
  • a web-based platform for the publication of digital scholarly editions and
  • a linked open data infrastructure for analysing, sharing, connecting and enriching arts and humanities research data.


Furthermore, CLARIAH-VL will stimulate computational advances in the arts and humanities; such as advancing machine learning towards in-depth processing of big data and granular computing, with a prime role for Natural Language Processing (NLP) as a way of meeting the expectations of humanities scholars wanting to interpret the vast amount of digitized data that has become available.

Finally, CLARIAH-VL will help prepare arts and humanities researchers for participation in initiatives such as the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), which is set to become an open and trusted environment for storing, sharing and re-using scientific data across disciplines and borders.