Week 1 DH

What I found the most interesting of the sites/projects was browsing the texts from the Early Caribbean Digital Archive. Its objective is “to use digital tools to “remix” the archive and foreground the centrality and creativity of enslaved and free African, Afro-creole, and Indigenous peoples in the Caribbean world.” There are some fascinating accounts of the time. How could you not be enticed by a story titled “Camps in the Caribbees: The Adventures of a Naturalist in the Lesser Antilles”? Even Victor Hugo’s tale of interracial friendship and rivalry “Bug -Jargal” is in there. I read some sections from “Camps in the Caribbees,” which are fascinating. Unfortunately, I couldn’t read “Bug-Jargal” because the PDF was in French, but given the author, I’m sure it’s great stuff. So I couldn’t help but feel that DH’s only role with such work is to help explain the context of when and by who it was written. I believe DH should be about simplifying the subject of Humanities, and what I found from this project and our readings is that this is not often the case.

One of the questions “The Digital Humanities Moment” asks is: Can [DH] save the humanities? The university? It can play a central role in progressing the humanities and third-level education. But, I think some of the arguments in the readings potentially make DH look like academic elitism. There’s a danger in intellectualizing and ‘owning’ the debate around very complex issues. For instance, in “Bodies of Information: Intersectional Feminism and Digital Humanities,” it says:

“Yet as women and feminists who have been active in the digital humanities since it was called “humanities computing,” we are often astonished to see forms of intellectual engagement that confront structural misogyny and racism relegated to the status of fringe concerns.” The implication that someone active in the beginnings of DH carries more credence on significant issues like misogyny and racism suggests that there’s a hierarchy within DH and those at the top get to say what’s what. 

As it says in A DH that maters: “Now is a time when digital humanists can usefully clarify our commitments to public scholarship, addressing our work not simply to “the public” but also, as Sheila Brennan has observed, to specific communities and the needs that they, and not we, identify as most pressing.” I think this advice applies to us too. We should carefully assess what’s already identified as pressing issues, but make sure to follow our own paths envisioning where DH is going .