Home // Press // Story Ideas // Society and Humanities

Society and Humanities



Students from Luxembourg recount WW1 on Twitter

“Digital humanities” is one of the pillars of modern historical science. The @RealTime WW1 project shows where such a contemporary approach can lead to. The Twitter project from the University Luxembourg was awarded first prize at the 2015 European Charlemagne Youth Prize.

War as a human drama

@RealTime WW1 is a project by students of the Master's in European Contemporary History (Master en histoire européenne contemporaine). WW1 and @RealTime: what looks at first sight like a contradiction, is in reality a creative approach to history. Since the start of 2014, the students have been recounting life during the First World War in just a few lines per day on the Twitter account; as they say "not as a history of winners and losers“ – but as a series of personal stories.

Some 10,000 readers

On https://twitter.com/RealTimeWW1 mothers express for instance their anguish over their sons, love letters are drafted in WEB2.0 style, Christmas carols are virtually sung, and the same Lordʼs Prayer is prayed in different languages. Thestudents break down the grand narrative of the First World War into small personal narratives, making it understandable today. Therefore, @RealTime WW1 - which has in the meantime some 10,000 readers - uses a handful of phrases each day to open up not only a new viewpoint on a historical drama, but also on today's political and social priorities.

Plea for a peaceful Europe

“By narrating the events of 100 years ago through the eyes of soldiers, nurses, school pupils, artists, farmers and activists, we hope to underline the senselessness of war and at the same time to make a plea for our modern and peaceful Europe“, says initiator Prof. Dr. Benoît Majerus. “We are therefore particularly proud of being awarded with the European Charlemagne Youth Prize.“

The annual prize goes to projects that foster a shared sense of European identity and integration among young people. See our previous article on this project: 2015 European Charlemagne Youth Prize for Luxembourg!



Social inequality is an issue for the future

with Louis Chauvel and Conchita d’Ambrosio

Social inequality is not necessarily a research topic that you would expect to find in Luxembourg. Nevertheless, at the University of Luxembourg two leading researchers, Louis Chauvel and Conchita d’Ambrosio, have teamed up to work on the growing disparity in the income gap. And with good reason because this issue has been around for a long time in the “financial haven”: the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) which is the largest database in the world dealing with income distribution has been going for about 25 years.

The LIS collects and holds data about taxation, income and expenditure for households in 40 countries across the world. Both researchers use this data as part of the Pearl Research Programme run by the Luxembourg National Research Foundation (FNR) – and this is based on the principle of Luxembourg being an interdisciplinary centre for research. Born in France, Louis Chauvel is an internationally renowned sociologist, while the Italian economist d’Ambrosio enjoys an equally distinguished reputation. And they can both draw upon a worldwide network that has an equally interdisciplinary structure.

Despite the international character of the project and database, Chauvel and d’Ambrosio set great store by making their work relevant to what is happening here locally: “Broadly speaking, inequality is defined inter alia in such a way that the middle class is continually shrinking while wealth is becoming concentrated in fewer and fewer hands,“ says Louis Chauvel. This trend is noticeable throughout Europe – and far beyond – and Luxembourg is not spared. Here too the younger generation is being forced to come to terms with having less than previous generations. Youth unemployment in Luxembourg is also a worrying indication that this is happening.

Sustainability for the future put to the test

According to Chauvel this goes to show that in the end Luxembourg is a completely “normal” part of Europe. Youth unemployment in Luxembourg is similar to what it is in France; but on the other hand as far as economic growth is concerned parallels with Germany are quite apparent. Ultimately this all shows quite clearly how society and the generations are steadily drifting apart. A disastrous trend with long-term repercussions for all those affected, as Conchita d’Ambrosio points out: “Poverty means a bad start and life continues to be bad. It makes people unhappy.” What she and Louis Chauvel are putting to the test is therefore nothing less than society’s sustainability for the future.

Further information is available at irsei.uni.lu.