The presentation discusses AFOr (Archivio di Fonti Orali, ‘archive of oral sources’), a multimodal archive on the history of the Villaggio Artigiano (‘artisans’ village’) neighbourhood in Modena, Italy. Funded by the region Emilia-Romagna, and conducted by OvestLab
in collaboration with Istituto Storico di Modena
, the archive is an open collection of materials from the last 50 years, including newspaper articles, official documents, as well as interviews (both in video and text-transcribed format) to the inhabitants of the Villaggio Artigiano. It is structured to allow for multidisciplinary researches and purposes (i.a. linguistic/economic/historical analyses, artistic performances/renditions). As a case study we investigate the language features that have characterised the neighbourhood, from its creation (1953) up to the present day. Through Corpus Linguistics, GIS (Geographic Information System), and Public History we focus on identifying how the Villaggio Artigiano has been represented and “narrated” throughout the years by its inhabitants, the media, and the historiographic community. The results are then used to analyse the relations between the language of the community and the places in a diachronic dimension. Subsequently the linguistic data is used to create a graphical visualisation that maps the network of relations (among people and places) that the archive materials outline. The collaboration and reciprocal ‘hybridisation’ of the disciplines involved constitutes a distinctive trait of this project, one that allows to respect one of the cornerstones of oral history: the inseparable relation between space and memory 3 . The digital archive is not in fact a mere collection of stories as told by the neighbourhood inhabitants: through the integration with linguistics, digital tools and maps it becomes an analytical tool allowing researchers to interpret and understand the history of Villaggio Artigiano.