Week 1 – Approaching the Digital Humanities

The trajectory of the Digital Humanities delineated from Gold and Klein’s work in 2012 through Josephs and Risam’s 2021 work in The Digital Black Atlantic provides a traceable account of the evolution of the field into that which now fosters invaluable projects such as The Colored Conventions Project and The Early Caribbean Digital Archive. Questions posed in The Digital Humanities Moment regarding the necessity of theory and politics in the field, as well as concerns raised addressing the inadequate attention paid to issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality, appear to have been (and continue to be) gradually answered and addressed, with works such as Wernimont and Losh’s Bodies of Information: Intersectional Feminism and the Digital Humanities pushing the discipline into territories initially recognized as neglected. Projects such as The Early Caribbean Digital Archive and Torn Apart / Separados further speak to this progress, with the former working to illuminate the erased narratives of those subjugated and enslaved through European imperial domination in the Caribbean, and the latter functioning as an effective tool of digital scholarly activism in the fight for justice at the Mexico-U.S. border in opposition to policies of family-separation and the vast web of money circulating the United States’ Congress working to preserve ICE’s draconian influence over immigration policy. Having read what the Digital Humanities aspired to be a decade ago at the embryonic stage of Tom Scheinwelt’s suggested period of maturation, experimentation, and play, it’s both exciting and inspiring to see the resultant synthesis of practice and theory once advocated for in Klein & Gold’s Digital Humanities: The Expanded Field take shape in these unique and effective approaches to Digital Humanities scholarship.

If one were to ground their understanding of the Digital Humanities in a single project, Torn Apart/Separados would likely do the most to both define DH as it exists currently and to advance the possibility of recalibration and redefinition in the future. TA/S operates as a paragon of engagement with “the world beyond the academy,” providing a material analysis of the structures of power perpetuating an ongoing humanitarian crisis at the Mexico-U.S. border (Gold & Klein, 2019). Such projects seeking to elucidate fiscal networks of influence provide activists and digital humanists with the resources to develop further projects of resistance and disclosure, with TA/S explicitly stating this intention and allowing their data sets and models to be readily available to the public for future engagement. Through the open-source nature of the project’s findings, Torn Apart/Separados directly answers Gold and Klein’s question, “…how can digital humanists ally themselves with the activists, organizers, and others who are working to empower those most threatened…?” (Gold & Klein, 2019). Torn Apart/Separados works to define the Digital Humanities due to its awareness of itself as a “building block of large collective actions,” extending an effective strike on the clandestine nature of ICE’s fiscal entanglements to those who might continue such a project in the future as both the Digital Humanities and activism continue in becoming restructured, redefined, and recalibrated (Gold & Klein, 2019).


Gold, Matthew K., and Lauren F. Klein. 2019. “A DH That Matters” In Debates in the Digital Humanities 2019, edited by Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein. University of Minnesota Press.