Anna Foka

Director at Department of ALM; Centre for Digital Humanities

Mobile phone:
+46 72 999 92 72
Visiting address:
Engelska parken
Thunbergsvägen 3H
752 38 Uppsala
Postal address:
Box 625
751 26 UPPSALA

Professor at Department of ALM

+46 18 471 38 35
Mobile phone:
+46 72 999 92 72
Visiting address:
Engelska parken
Thunbergsvägen 3H
752 38 Uppsala
Postal address:
Box 625
751 26 UPPSALA

Short presentation

Professor Anna Foka is the Director of the Centre for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at Uppsala University. Her research and teaching focuses on applications of Information Technology (including knowledge organisation, Linked Open Data, AI, among others) for the arts and humanities. Professor Foka is a member of AcademiaNet, the European Science Foundation and the European Commission community of experts. She is a nominated member of the Ionian Hall of Scientists.


  • academic exchange and mobility
  • ai
  • archaeology
  • archives
  • artificial intelligence
  • classical studies
  • cultural and art history
  • cultural heritage
  • digital activism
  • digital cultural heritage
  • digital heritage implementation
  • digital humanities
  • digital research infrastructures
  • digital technology
  • environmental studies
  • game studies
  • gender
  • history of archive practices
  • linked open data
  • museology
  • open repositories


Anna Foka is Professor in Digital Humanities at the Department for Archives, Museums and Libraries (ABM). and the Director of the Centre for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at Uppsala University. Anna’s research outputs to-date focus on digital cultural heritage, heritage and culture data and information science more generally, its classification, representation and supporting methods, tools, and infrastructures. Anna’s humanities’ expertise lies in cultural and material history of Europe, including the ancient world as well as its international reception in contemporary media. Her research and teaching focuses on applications of Information Technology (including knowledge organisation, Linked Open Data, AI, among others) for the arts and humanities. Professor Foka is a member of AcademiaNet, the European Science Foundation and the European Commission community of experts. She is a nominated member of the Ionian Hall of Scientists.


I am currently leading the following research projects

  • I am the Uppsala University based PI for the project AI and Authenticity and Archives (2023-2027) funded by the NetX/WASP project funding in Humanities and social sciences

    he purpose of this project is to conceptualise and guide the design of AI based methods which embody and address archival professional imperatives by using open and available datasets from the Swedish National Archives (Riksarkivet, thereon RA) and the Swedish National Heritage Board (Riksantikvarieämbetet, thereon RAÄ). The project also aims to articulate Swedish archival imperatives (e.g., archival diplomatics, automatic classification and community assessment) conceptualise and guide the design of AI systems to support imperatives provide an evaluative framework to assess AI implementation and performance including societal impact, providing means to maintain and assess the authenticity of human memory. This project will fulfill a series of objectives which include matching archival imperatives with AI possibilities by surveying AI implementations and technologies, and archival principles and problematics, including diplomatics and service objectives by creating an archival AI Conceptual Framework (CF). Moreover, other objectives include formulating an evaluative methodology to assess the performance of the CF; exploring how archival AI implementations would address wider societal issues, such as: aligning archives to heritage futures (service objectives) and addressing issues of fake news and propagandistic/inauthentic cultural appropriations (diplomatics). In order to achieve the ROs above the project addresses two sets of research questions: What would AI-based approaches on archival principles look like? What possibilities do they suggest about humane AI development? Do they counter the “black box” character of AI?What benefits would an archival AI offer an institution and society? Could it help future-proof cultural heritage institutions, i.e., foster heritage futures? Can an archival AI, outside the archival setting, serve public interest (e.g., combating fake news and propaganda)?

  • I am the PI of Quantifying Culture: a Study of AI and Cultural Heritage Collections (2021-2025) funded by the WASP-HS: the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems, and Software Program Humanities and Society. The project has the purpose to unlock the future potential of AI for the management and curation of cultural heritage collections. A synthesis of AI methods and critical scholarship can co-produce diverse and more nuanced perspectives on heritage collections, thus reaching the public of the future. By developing theoretical and technological knowledge the project’s concrete aims are: 1) To map and explore the current practices and experiences, as well as anticipated futures, of GLAM digitalisation in Sweden; 2) to investigate how AI/ML-generated descriptions of art and heritage can be enhanced in meaningful ways; 3) to analyse AI/ML methods’ and tools’ compliance with FAIR and international data standards, as well as their reflection of and engagement with diversity and ethics; 4) To explore how we can connect AI to qualitative aspects of the examined material where critical and ethical theories meet with algorithms and mathematics.

  • I am the PI of the Digital Periegesis project that aims at creating a digital enriched a edition of the 2nd Century traveller's guide to Greece (Funded by the Marcus and Amalia Wallenberg Research Foundation 2018-21 and the Swedish Research Council in 2022-2026). The project, financed by the Swedish Research council (2023-2026) will create a digital edition of Pausanias’s ten volumes of the Description of Greece, the touristic guide of the 2nd century CE enriched with entities which, though critical for the analysis of cultural geography, have been relatively neglected in spatial/digital humanities: namely, data about time and people. The project will develop methods and tools for identifying and investigating in Pausanias’s Description: (a) time as both a relative and absolute concept, including time formats (periodization vs. numerical time etc.); and (b) people, including social categories for the study of ethnicity and gender. A broader objective will be to use semantic annotation for the identification and analysis of these entities, which will mean the development of Linked Open Data methods and applications for time and people on the model of place. The project’s research questions are: (1) to investigate the intersection and co-implication of temporal, spatial and societal data in Pausanias’s narrative; (2) to reveal new understandings of past and present cultures and societies via a geographic, diachronic study of temporal and social textual data; and (3) to develop the technology and design interface principles that facilitate a combination of spatial, temporal and social data for critical analysis. The final digital edition will serve as an educational and research resource.

  • I am the co-PI of the project AI and Marginalia. This project exploits the exceptional early book collections found in both Uppsala and Durham Libraries, such as Bishop Cosin’s library and Carolina Rediviva. Marginalia written in these books by their successive owners are an important source of evidence for European intellectual history, but access to these annotations is very difficult. Catalogues sometimes register the presence of marginalia, but rarely its content. Being able to search that material would instantly create an important new tool for research.

I am currently involved in the following projects

  • I am a co-leader within the WASP-ED Programme (The Wallenberg AI and Transformative Technologies Education Development Programme), focusing on the courses development work area. The fundamental challenge that WASP-ED is designed to address is how Swedish universities can step-up and provide relevant and timely education at scale when the demand for competence in new technologies such as AI suddenly explodes and vastly broadens

  • I am the PI and the national coordinator of the first ever doctoral school network in Digital Humanities and Social Sciences more broadly DASH: Data Culture and Society. Studying the nexus of data, culture and society is purported to be a success factor for value creation in a world of fast-pacing technology. DASH targets PhD candidates in the humanities and social sciences who do not yet possess specific computational or technical knowledge or skills, but who are interested in learning more with the purpose of applying this to their future thesis work. DASH provides doctoral candidates with relevant knowledge and skills situated at the intersection of ICT and arts and humanities as well as address critical perspectives in their application.

  • I am the national member of the management committee of Managing Artificial Intelligence in Archaeology (MAIA) (COST Action CA23141)funded by the COST: European Cooperation in Science and Technology. The advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications within archaeology has brought incredible opportunities but also significant challenges. Only a few years ago, Machine Learning algorithms and Neural Networks were concepts unknown to archaeologists; now, AI has been applied to many archaeological fields, from the detection of archaeological sites, the recognition and reassembling of archaeological pottery, the mining of text from historical documents and epigraphs, the study of human remains, the identification of murals and graffiti, and even robotics. AI has great potential to create a better comprehension of shared archaeological heritage. However, a more profound understanding of which archaeological research questions could be addressed, the availability and creation of the data upon which this research relies, the ethical, epistemological and hermeneutical side of the challenges that AI poses, and the lack of sustainable access to the necessary resources to undertake this work now deserve more in-depth discussion and exploration. The MAIA COST Action will create a community of archaeologists, digital archaeologists and computer scientists who will work together to develop a shared understanding of AI applications in archaeology. This will include meetings and workshops bringing together researchers who wish to create or use digital collections and training data. Key to this will be training opportunities in the field for documenting archaeological resources optimised for AI research and Short Term Scientific Missions, where researchers can work across borders to understand how to create comparative and training data.

  • I am the national member of the management committee of Distant Reading for European Literary History (COST Action CA16204) funded by the COST: European Cooperation in Science and Technology. This is a project that aims to create a vibrant and diverse network of researchers jointly developing the resources and methods necessary to change the way European literary history is written. Grounded in the Distant Reading paradigm (i.e. using computational methods of analysis for large collections of literary texts), the Action will create a shared theoretical and practical framework to enable innovative, sophisticated, data-driven, computational methods of literary text analysis across at least 10 European languages. Fostering insight into cross-national, large-scale patterns and evolutions across European literary traditions, the Action will facilitate the creation of a broader, more inclusive and better-grounded account of European literary history and cultural identity.

  • I am a core member of the project Ancient Itineraries: The Digital Lives of Art History (Funded by the Getty Foundation 2018-9). The Ancient Itineraries programme, funded by the Getty Foundation as part of its Digital Art History initiative, sought to explore both senses of “Digital” as it applies to art history. The aim of the Ancient Itineraries programme was to map out the future of three key methodological topics in relation to the digital art history of the Classical world: provenance, geographies and visualization. We assessed three families of methods, beginning with the capacities of the WWW to link information together.


Short talk with Anna Foka

As technology weaves itself in the fabric of human condition, it has the power to illuminate complexity.


Selection of publications

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Anna Foka