The Martin Buber Society of Fellows spent two days in Zikhron Yaakov (Bet Daniel), for an intensive seminar on the nature of data in the humanities and the social sciences.
Working in small groups, the fellows dealt with the nature and implications of their engagements with their data, especially those that precede explicit analytical conduct. The groups explored the ways in which early engagements of this sort already constitute a meaningful statement about their objects of research, and how these statements set the grounds upon which all subsequent work will be built. We asked - and continue to ask - to what extent can the data speak for itself and how much of it is determined by more or less established practices of interpretation and classification?
Bringing into to focus the fellows’ own practices and work allowed us to discover elemental commonalities present behind the obvious differences in scope and subject matter. Some of the issues that came to the fore include,
• The tenuous relationship between our claims for the validity of our accounts and the elemental historicity of our work;
• Method as a mode of justification;
• Variations in the scholarly environment, especially in terms of density;
• The inevitability of classifications and their enabling and constraining effects;
• The mutual constitution of all research components: object, question, method, analysis and account.