The Scholars’ Lab GIS workshop sessions are designed to be accessible without prior knowledge or experience with GIS software and to give attendees hands-on experience with step-by-step instructions. Workshop topics are based on the how-to questions Kelly and Chris answer daily in their interactions with faculty and students in the Scholars’ Lab, in addition to emerging themes in geospatial scholarship.
The 3rd issue of the new Feminist Modernist Studies journal focuses on the issue of feminist scholarship with and within DH practices:
In our CFP we asked, what might feminism offer DH? Across this cluster, essays agreed that feminist DH is not just “about women,” but entails a collaborative feminist practice of breaking down boundaries, enabling new syntheses based on situated knowledges, shifting subject positions and interpretations. Until recently, DH has been prominently associated with scientific neutrality, “big data,” quantification and the ensuing practices of distant reading or macroanalysis. However, as feminist theorists (and many modernist writers) have long observed, purportedly “objective” knowledge systems can and do inscribe exclusionary, hierarchical assumptions.
The Data&Society Research Institute just published its primer on “Algorithmic Accountability,” originally presented to the Congressional Progressive Caucus on April 18, 2018 as “Tech Algorithm Briefing: How Algorithms Perpetuate Racial Bias and Inequality.” Here’s a synopsis of its contents:
Algorithmic Accountability: A Primer explores issues of algorithmic accountability, or the process of assigning responsibility for harm when algorithmic decision-making results in discriminatory and inequitable outcomes.
Currently, there are few consumer or civil rights protections that limit the types of data used to build data profiles or that require the auditing of algorithmic decision-making, even though algorithmic systems can make decisions on the basis of protected attributes like race, income,or gender–even when those attributes are not referenced explicitly–because there are many effective proxies for the same information.
This brief explores the trade-offs between and debates about algorithms and accountability across several key ethical dimensions, including:
- Fairness and bias;
- Opacity and transparency;
- The repurposing of data and algorithms;
- Lack of standards for auditing;
- Power and control; and
- Trust and expertise.
Current Research in Digital History is just out from the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and Media, with its first volume comprising 17 articles and a CFP for the 2019 conference.
“Current Research in Digital History is an annual open-access, peer-reviewed publication of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University. Its primary aim is to encourage and publish scholarship in digital history that offers discipline-specific arguments and interpretations. By featuring short essays, it also seeks to provide an opportunity to make arguments on the basis of ongoing research in larger projects.
Essays published in CRDH are first presented at an annual one-day conference at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia. Authors submit their essays in the fall, and then the conference is held in the spring. Each essay goes through two rounds of peer review, first by the conference program committee, and then by the conference commentator. CRDH is published at the end of August, less than a year after essays are submitted.
The platform for Current Research in Digital History offers the following features in order to effectively publish a range of scholarship:
- publication of visualizations, graphics, and narratives
- publication of associated data or code in a research compendium
- external hosting of content if necessary, provided that authors agree to maintain the content
- DOIs and other metadata for all articles
- indexing in Google Scholar and other academic databases”
Interested in getting into DH? New on SSRC: Doing Digital Scholarship resource page, with How-To guidelines, training sessions and much more, including search function for tutorials, info on digital publishing, and resources on building your online presence.
“Doing Digital Scholarship offers a self-guided introduction to digital scholarship, designed for digital novices. It allows you to dip a toe into a very large field of practice. It starts with the basics, such as securing web server space, preserving data, and improving your search techniques. It then moves forward to explore different methods used for analyzing data, designing digitally inflected teaching assignments, and creating the building blocks required for publishing digital work.”
Here at the UConn Library, one of the tenets of our Purposeful Path Forward is to engage in the driving of UConn’s ‘Scholarly Engine’, or the processes of research and knowledge creation. One of the core activities in our approach is educating our community on the importance of Open Access. Open Access (OA), as defined by SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), refers to the “free, immediate, online availability of research articles, coupled with the rights to use these articles fully in the digital environment.”
Why Open? Open changes the way we discover knowledge. It can turn ideas into reality, break down barriers to learning, and lay the groundwork for breakthrough research.
This month we are embracing the challenge provided by the 2017 International Open Access Week by answering the question, “Open in order to…” through a series of programs and initiatives.
The UConn Library is proud to announce the re-launch of the University’s institutional repository, OpenCommons@UConn, a showcase of the scholarship and creative works of the UConn community. The renaming of this services emphasizes the Library’s role in providing the tools to enable independent learning, research, and scholarship. By making the University’s diverse and unique resources openly accessible worldwide, we hope to inspire groundbreaking research and advance learning, teaching, and entrepreneurial thinking.
Open in order to…provide access to UConn’s scholarship
Open Educational Resources @ UConn Exhibit: published teaching and learning materials under an open license
October 18-31, 2017
HBL, Plaza Level
Open Access and Open Educational Resources (OER) are related but distinct, with the commonality of providing high quality learning materials at no cost. In an academic setting, the lines of Open Access publishing for research materials and Open Educational Resources for teaching and learning overlap in significant ways. UConn’s OER Initiative began only 2 years ago and to date has saved our undergraduates over $500,000 in textbook costs. View some OER textbooks and learn more about the faculty who are working towards making UConn more affordable.
Open in order to…save students money
Is this open access journal any good?
Thursday, October 19, 9:30-11:00am
Homer Babbidge Library, Collaborative Learning Classroom
Faculty often struggle to identify good quality open access journals in which to publish or to serve as an editor or reviewer. Many new open access journals exist now – some are good quality, some are exploitative, and some are in-between. This workshop will include a brief discussion of faculty concerns about identifying journals. The majority of the session will be devoted to identifying and demonstrating indicator web-based tools which can help faculty to appraise a journal’s quality. Please register at http://cetl.uconn.edu/seminars
Open in order to…find quality teaching materials
Paywall: A Conversation about the Business of Scholarship with Filmmaker Jason Schmitt
Wednesday, October 25, 2:30-4:00pm
Konover Auditorium, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
Help us celebrate Open Access Week by joining award-winning filmmaker Jason Schmitt as we screen and discuss footage from his in-progress documentary Paywall: The Business of Scholarship. Schmitt will be accompanied in the discussion by a panel of UConn faculty who will share their views on making the results of academic research freely accessible online. Co-sponsored by UConn Humanities Institute
Open in order to…talk about the business of scholarship
Flyer in pdf
Release in pdf
Open Data In Action
Thursday, October 26, 11:00am-2:00pm
Hartford Public Library Atrium
Open Data In Action brings together a wide range of researchers to showcase how their work has benefited from openly and freely accessible data. Presenters from the public, private, and academic sectors will discuss how open data, ranging from historical documents to statistical analyses, is being used to create projects, change policies, or conduct research and highlight the importance open data has on shaping the world around us.
Tyler Kleykamp, Chief Data Officer, State of Connecticut
- Steve Batt, UConn Hartford/CT State Data Center, Tableau Public and CT Census Data
- Jason Cory Brunson, UConn Health Center, Modeling Incidence and Severity of Disease using Administrative Healthcare Data
- Stephen Busemeyer, The Hartford Courant,Journalism and the Freedom of Information
- Brett Flodine, GIS Project Leader, City of Hartford Open Data
- Rachel Leventhal-Weiner, CT Data Collaborative, CT Data Academy
- Anna Lindemann/Graham Stinnett, UConn/DM&D, & Archives, Teaching Motion Graphics with Human Rights Archives
- Thomas Long, UConn Nursing, Dolan Collection Nursing History Blog
- Tina Panik, Avon Public Library, World War II Newsletters from the CTDA
- Jennifer Snow, UConn Library, Puerto Rico Citizenship Archives: Government Documents as Open Data
- Rebecca Sterns, Korey Stringer Institute, Athlete Sudden Death Registry
- Andrew Wolf, UConn Digital Media & Design, Omeka Everywhere
Co-sponsored by the Hartford Public Library
Open in order to…share data
Flyer in pdf
Introduction to Data Visualization using Tableau Public
Monday, October 30, 3:00-4:15pm
Homer Babbidge Library, Level 2 Electronic Classroom
Tableau Public is a free version of Tableau business intelligence / visual analytics software, which allows anyone to explore and present any quantitative information in compelling, interactive visualizations. In this hands-on session you will work with different prepared datasets to create online interactive bar graphs, scatterplots, thematic maps and much more, which can be linked to or embedded in blogs or on web sites. Please register at http://workshops.lib.uconn.edu/
Open in order to…visualize research
Digital Scholarship: Partnering for the Future
Joan K. Lippincott, Associate Executive Director, Coalition for Networked Information
Tuesday, November 7, 2-3:30
Homer Babbidge Library, Heritage Room
Researchers in many disciplines are finding that they can ask new kinds of research questions as a result of the rapid growth in the availability of digital content and tools. In addition, the outputs of their research can include many more types of products such as data visualizations, geo-referenced representations, text augmented with images and audio, exhibits on the web, and virtual reality environments. Developing these projects takes a team of people who have a variety of skill sets. These individuals may come from academic departments, the library, the information technology unit, and other specialties. Graduate and undergraduate students are also often part of teams working on digital scholarship projects. In this presentation, Lippincott will provide an update on developments in digital scholarship and will describe existing programs and projects, discuss the importance of physical space, and encourage the development of a campus digital scholarship community. Co-sponsored by UConn Humanities Institute
Open in order to…develop digital scholarship
The original blog post available here.
1. What initially intrigued you about research/teaching in digital humanities or media studies?
I was immersed in media studies from the very start of grad school, but not really before then. One of the first courses I took as a masters student at Columbia focused on media studies, and later, when I was a Ph.D. student at NYU, there was much intellectual activity around media, mediation, etc.; NYU was – and still is, I would think – an exciting place to study those problems. The intrigue for me was in the tensions between literature and what is prioritized by other communications media and technologies, and I wrote a media studies-influenced dissertation on Romantic poetry. As for digital humanities: that too was becoming a part of the conversation during grad school, especially in relation to what has been the main interpretative technique of literary study, “close reading,” but also in connection with (then newish) scholarly resources like ECCO (“Eighteenth Century Collections Online”). Since then, I participated in a UK project based at Cambridge called The Concept Lab, which involved intense – and sometimes insane – debates about how computationally to model concepts, which brought us into linguistics and other disciplines. It was a lot of fun working with that group, and we all piled into a van at one point for a brainy road trip in California. Around that time, I also sat in on a computational linguistics course at UConn, and that was very informative. A little before I joined The Concept Lab, I wrote an essay on early 20th-century word frequency counts and their unlikely ties to the advent of close reading. That was a fun essay to write, dealing with the pre-digital history of digital “distant reading,” and it drew a little bit on all of the above.
2. How has entering the DHMS realm changed your approach to research and teaching in general? If so, how?
As for research: I tend to be invested in Romantic poetry, media studies, and digital humanities (among other things) and try to keep up with all three, but I don’t ever feel that I exclusively or primarily belong to any one of the them. Some of my ideas come from wandering somewhere between those three coordinates, and at other times I’m more deliberate about relating them to one another. In terms of teaching: this semester, I’m teaching undergraduate courses, an already memorable and boisterous one on Vladimir Nabokov, the other the gateway course for the English major, and we’re reading Lydia Davis in that one at the moment. All that to say, “DHMS” doesn’t figure too much in my teaching currently. But, a few years ago, I taught a grad seminar on “Literature, Media, and Technology,” in which we read a lot of media studies and adjacent things, including some of my favorites (e.g., Raymond Williams’s Television which often feels like Williams saying, “Let me show you how to do it right.”) And I’ll be teaching the new “Introduction to Digital Humanities” graduate seminar next year, the first time it’s being offered as such, and I’m looking forward to that.
3. You have three (commitment-free) wishes to receive support for your research/teaching in DH or media studies: what are they?
What a cruel constraint that one is introduced to the elusive genie but the three wishes must be about “research/teaching in DH or media studies”! Time is important and so maybe something that frees up the time of faculty and grad students to learn new disciplines from scratch and be uncomfortable? See below.
4. First struggles and successes: do you have any best-practice advice?
I don’t, but I would say that I am very behind the idea of this DHMS initiative and graduate certificate, covering and combining as it does “digital humanities” and “media studies.” It’s still very early on with DHMS endeavors at UConn, but I would like to see more connections with disciplines and departments like linguistics, computer science, statistics, digital media and design, and so on. I realize that English folks, for example – I include myself – have a repertoire of things they like to say and do with literary and other cultural works (Rita Felski’s The Limits of Critique describes well this now familiar repertoire). But I think it would be exciting too if there were more attempts to go very deep into very different disciplines with very different ways of looking at things. There would be a lot of learning of new languages, terms, concepts, technical skills, etc. This is maybe my idiosyncratic view not of “best practices” but “potentially promising practices.”
5. How would you like to challenge yourself in DH or media studies? Or what is a project you most seek to realize?
Maybe one challenge for me is that I’m what Zadie Smith calls a Person 1.0, which makes certain DHMS topics difficult for me to write on. The Smith essay is now an old essay, but it touches on things like Facebook, and it still sums up a how I feel, for the most part. But I know too that there are interesting questions to consider in areas like digital sociality, and that might be a new challenge for me, at some point. In the book I’m finishing writing, I talk at one point about how poetry can model a form of mediated interaction that can both encourage and discourage connection – it is another way to talk about introversion and the pressing need for both of those options – and so I might be beginning to engage some of these topics, but in my own oblique way.
As an aspiring social studies teacher, I recognize the importance of integrating digital history into the classroom. Students have grown up in the digital age, and, as such, consume a majority of their information online. Gone are the days of searching through a library for primary and secondary sources to support a historical argument or reading a newspaper to discover that day’s events. All this information, and more, can now be found online. This vast availability of information has greatly expanded the possibilities for studying history, which presents us, as educators, with a unique opportunity to integrate digital history into our classrooms. By doing so, we will enable students to utilize digital media to advance historical analysis and understanding. To do this, however, we must first provide students with models of digital history. What follows are several examples of digital history projects that could be used in classrooms (and beyond) to equip students with the skills required to contribute to our knowledge of world contexts in a digital way.
HistoryMatters is a digital history project that resulted from collaboration between George Mason University and the City University of New York. The project began in 1998 with the intent of providing teachers and students with digital resources that could improve their instruction and understanding of United States history. It was funded by the Kellogg Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. There are over a thousand primary sources on a variety of topics that range from photographs to text documents to audio files, all of which can be used with students to help them construct a narrative of the past. What’s unique about this project is that it takes full advantage of the digital space by using audio files from everyday Americans to help participants co-construct the history of the United States as well as from scholars on how to teach major aspects of US history. In addition, since there are over a thousand primary sources available, there is a “full search” feature that was developed to assist in locating resources by time, topic, or keyword. With the large number of primary sources available, this digital history project would be an excellent resource for students to use for research papers. Students could use this project to develop a research question based on an area of inquiry, examine primary sources related to their topic, arrive at conclusions based on their research, and publish their findings in order to advance our understanding of history. Doing so would expose them to conducting research digitally while also developing their ability to think critically, evaluate evidence, and articulate their thoughts clearly.
Mapping Inequality is a digital history project that was created through the collaboration of three research teams from the University of Maryland, the University of Richmond, Virginia Tech, and Johns Hopkins University. This project showcases 150 maps that were drafted by the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) from 1935 to 1940. These maps were color-coded to show the credit-worthiness of different neighborhoods in each town. Mortgage lenders then used these maps to determine whether someone would qualify for a loan. This project was developed to show that, when these maps are compared to the layout of neighborhoods in the United States today, it becomes apparent that many of the racial and class inequities that exist are a direct result of the HOLC’s maps. In fact, many of these maps were produced such that they were to codify racial segregation into real estate practice. This project could be used with students for multiple purposes. For example, when teaching about the New Deal, students could use the site to determine how the HOLC reflected a problematic legacy of the New Deal. Students could also be asked to cite specific examples from the map of how the HOLC’s practices led to the racial and class segregation that is seen today. For example, if they examined the areas around Hartford, Connecticut, they would observe that the HOLC deemed that West Hartford had the “best,” most credit worthy neighborhoods, whereas Hartford had the “hazardous,” least credit worthy neighborhoods. If this map is compared to today’s, it becomes evident that the HOLC’s maps led to racial and class segregation, with West Hartford and Hartford reflecting mostly unchanged neighborhoods. In addition, showcasing a digital history project of this nature in class would familiarize students with what digital history can look like. Through this project, teachers could expose students to some of the digital tools and resources—such as mapping software and online databases—that would be required to design it. This would create incentives to work collaboratively with other scholars—especially those who could provide the digital resources for projects like this.
3) The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War
The Valley of the Shadow is a digital history project constructed by the Virginia Center for DigitalHistory at the University of Virginia. This project narrates the countless stories of two different communities from the American Civil War—one from the North and one from the South—through letters, newspapers, diaries, speeches, and other primary sources. The project is organized through a series of image maps that direct the viewer to various search engines. This project functions similarly to the HistoryMatters project—they are both databases of primary sources that employ search engines to enable the viewer to locate information—but there is a key difference between the two worth mentioning: while HistoryMatters contains a large amount of primary source information on a wide variety of topics across United States history, this project only provides information that is relevant to a specific time and topic. The narrow focus is relevant to the work historians do on a daily basis, as most of a history scholar’s research explores questions in a specific niche of the past. As such, teachers could use this project to show students how they might approach a digital history research project. This would help transition students away from the traditional way of communicating their thoughts on history through a research paper and, instead, provide them with the opportunity to disseminate their ideas digitally. For example, rather than writing a paper about the significant World War II battles, students could create an online timeline that lays out those events chronologically while also providing descriptions of the significance of each battle. Exposing students to and allowing them to engage in this sort of work would enable them to practice the craft of a historian in a very familiar context and equip them with the skills to pose their own questions about a certain niche of the world.
Matthew Ferraro is a masters’ student in the Neag School of Education’s Integrated Bachelors’ / Masters’ (I/BM) Program. He is currently interning at Conard High School, where his research interests include how to best integrate human rights education into social studies classrooms. He is studying to become a social studies teacher at the high school level. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the semester gets under way, DHMS is ready to roll out a number of updates, news, and events for the new academic year 2017/18. Welcome back, everyone!
First a quick review of Year 1: following the creation of the brand new graduate certificate in Digital Humanities and Media Studies in February – with much-appreciated support from a number of colleagues in CLAS and the Graduate School – two students already graduated from the program. Britta Meredith (LCL/German Studies) and Elisabeth Buzay (LCL/French & Francophone Studies) each completed their course work and DHMS portfolios in the nick of time and with great aplomb (and, incidentally, helped the director navigate the new learning curve of certification processing). Importantly, both DHMS certificate holders are off to a tight conference schedule: Elisabeth Buzay received two invitations already, with presentations directly related to her DHMS certificate work, and Britta Meredith is continuing her jam-packed presentation tour with next-phase talks on her DHMS portfolio that is now getting integrated with her dissertation. Congratulations to both of them!
On video now from Year 1 on the Humanities Institute youtube channel: two of the events from last year, the inaugural DHMS Talks presentation by renowned University of Santa Barbara professor Alan Liu; and pivotal information on copyright issues (both analog and digital) for academics by University of Massachusetts lawyer/librarian Laura Quilter and our own UConn-local librarian Michael Rodriguez. Alan Liu’s talk is a must-see (my humble opinion) should you have missed his thought-provoking, à propos, and widely applicable discussion of “Toward Critical Infrastructure Studies: Digital Humanities, New Media Studies, and the Culture of Infrastructure.” Ditto for Laura Quilter’s and Michael Rodriguez’s talks, for very different reasons, of course. Both point to crucial elements concerning copyright and authors’ rights that take minutiae to a new level: watch for ALL the fine print in your contracts with book and online publishers to make sure you not only understand your intellectual copyright, but also what happens (or can happen!) once you’ve published that book or article and it all goes digital and multimedia… And, yes, there IS “Fair Use in Digital Scholarship.”
Thank you again to Jennifer Snow, one of UConn’s Digital Scholarship Librarians, for making this important event possible.
Which brings us to Year 2. This fall and spring, we will take a break from the Digital Humanities Reading Group (for further notice please check DHMS Upcoming Events), but things will rev up in other directions. The list of Scholars’ Collaborative workshops for this semester is all set, with 5 workshops scheduled throughout the fall. Look out for Michael Young’s presentation on “Images and Permissions for Publications” (NEW) and two workshops on the popular Tableau by Steve Batt (also NEW). Suggestions for more workshops/tool intros always welcome.
Year 2 in DHMS will also inaugurate a new Fall/Spring rhythm with a roundtable discussion in the fall semester and the DHMS Talk in the spring. For the DHMS Roundtable, media studies scholar and NYU English professor Lisa Gitelman, interdisciplinary artist Emma Hogarth (RISD), and UConn’s own DMD department head Tom Scheinfeldt and I will gather to discuss “Interfacing Digital Humanities and Media Studies.” Please join us on October 12 at 2:30 on the 4th floor of Babbidge Library to participate in this conversation across disciplines and across media.
Another event to take part in is collaboration #2 between DHMS and the library on the occasion of Open Access Week in October. Director Jason Schmitt will come to campus to present his documentary film
“Paywall” (2018), a topic that is bound to invite debate on a number of fronts and issues. The screening and Q&A will take place in Konover on October 25 from 2-4pm. More information forthcoming very soon. Bring your students.
Finally, our once-a-semester DHMS Meet&Greet luncheon will take place after Thanksgiving on November 30 from 2-3:30pm. My colleague Jacqueline Loss (LCL/Spanish) will provide a glimpse into her work on “Finotype” that has been selected as one of the first Greenhouse Studios projects. The Digital Coffee Hour (ad hoc gatherings next to fountains of hot coffee!) will continue as well – however, the venue has switched from the Humanities Institute to Scholarly Communications in Babbidge Library – exact location TBA.
The brain bytes blog (bi-weekly as of this year) will continue to post ideas, information, events and more – and readers are welcome to contribute a guest blog and/or recruit more readers who might have an interest in sharing their DHMS-related work (or quests). While there are several Q&A features in the making, you should feel free to suggest topics of potential interest or colleagues whose work deserves to be noticed. Two new items have been added to the Resources page: a Social Media Guide for Academics (JustPublics@365 Toolkit) and Guidelines for Digital Dissertations in History and Art History (GMU). If you have any resources or projects to share that need to find their place on the DHMS website, please just send an email to email@example.com. Better yet: join the DHMS mailing list or the DHMS facebook group. Wishing everyone a productive and inspiring academic year!
In an article published online last month by The Guardian—“AI programs exhibit racial and gender biases, research reveals”—the computer scientists behind the technology were careful to emphasize that this reflects not prejudice on the part of artificial intelligence, but AI’s learning of our own prejudices as encoded within language.
“Word embedding”, “already used in web search and machine translation, works by building up a mathematical representation of language, in which the meaning of a word is distilled into a series of numbers (known as a word vector) based on which other words most frequently appear alongside it. Perhaps surprisingly, this purely statistical approach appears to capture the rich cultural and social context of what a word means in the way that a dictionary definition would be incapable of.”
This tool’s ability to reproduce complex and nuanced word associations is probably not surprising to anyone familiar with digital humanities—and the fact that it returned associations that match pleasant words with whiteness and unpleasant ones with blackness, or that associate “woman” with the arts and interpretative disciplines and “man” with the STEM fields shouldn’t be surprising to anyone who has been paying attention. The distressing prospect that AI and other digital programs and platforms will only reinforce existing bias and inequality has certainly garnered the attention of scholars in media studies and DH, but one could argue that it has received equal attention in the social sciences.
As a graduate student in cultural anthropology drawn to DH, I sometimes find myself considering what exactly demarcates digital humanities from social science when apprehending these kinds of topics; somehow, with the addition of ‘digital’, the lines seem to have blurred. Both ultimately represent an investigation of how humans create meaning through or in relation to the digital universe, and the diverse methodologies at the disposal of each are increasingly overlapping. Below are just a few reasons, from my limited experience, as to why social scientists can benefit from involvement with digital humanities—and vice-versa.
1) Tools developed in DH can serve as methodologies in the social sciences.
Text mining, a process that derives patterns and trends from textual sources similar to the phenomenon described above, is particularly suited for social science analysis of primary sources. Programs like Voyant and Textalyser are free and easily available on the web, no downloads or installations required, and can pull data from PDFs, URLs, and Microsoft Word, plain text and more. Interview transcripts can also be analyzed using these programs, and the graphs and word clouds they create provide a unique way to “see” an argument, a theme, bias, etc.
Platforms like Omeka and Scalar can provide an opportunity not only to display ethnographic information for visual anthropologists, but can give powerful form to arguments in a way that textual forms cannot (see, for example, Performing Archive: Curtis + “the vanishing race”, which turns Edward S. Curtis’ famous photos of Native Americans on their heads by visualizing the categories instead of the categorized).
2) Both fields are tackling the same issues.
Miriam Posner writes that she “would like us to start understanding markers like gender and race not as givens but as constructions…I want us to stop acting as though the data models for identity are containers to be filled in order to produce meaning and recognize instead that these structures themselves constitute data.” Drucker and Svensson echo that creating data structures that expose inequality or incorporate diversity is not as straightforward as it seems, given that “the organization of the fields and tag sets already prescribes what can be included and how these inclusions are put into signifying relations with each other” (10). Anthropologist Sally Engle Merry, in The Seductions of Quantification, expounds on this idea in the realm of Human Rights, proving that indicators can obscure as much or more than they reveal. Alliances between DHers as builders and analyzers of digital tools and platforms, and social scientists as suppliers of information on the effects of these on the ground in various cultural contexts, provide benefit to both.
3) Emerging fields in the social sciences can learn a lot from established DH communities and scholarship.
Digital anthropology, digital sociology, cyberanthropology, digital ethnography, and virtual anthropology are all sub-disciplines emerging from the social sciences with foci and methods that often overlap with those of digital humanities. Studies of Second Life, World of Warcraft, or hacking; the ways diasporic communities use social media platforms to maintain relationships; or projects that focus on digitizing indigenous languages all have counterparts within digital humanities. Theoretically, there is much to compare: Richard Grusin’s work on mediation intersects with
anthropologists leading the “ontological turn” like Philippe Descola and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro; Florian Cramer’s work on the ‘post-digital’ pairs interestingly with Shannon Lee Dawdy’s concept of “clockpunk” anthropology, influenced by thinkers both disciplines share like Walter Benjamin and Bruno Latour.
Though I am still relatively new to DH, one theme I find repeated often, and which represents much of the promise and the excitement of digital humanities for me, is the push for collaboration and the breaking down of disciplinary boundaries. Technologies like AI remind us that we all share the collective responsibility to build digital worlds that don’t simply reflect the restrictions and biases of our textual and social worlds.
Kitty O’Riordan is a doctoral student in cultural anthropology at the University of Connecticut. Her research interests include anthropology of media and public discourse, comparative science studies, and contemporary indigenous issues in New England. You can reach her at caitlin.o’firstname.lastname@example.org.