Is DH “the thing”?

The transition from the tag “the next big thing”(Chronicle, 2009) to “the thing”(Pannapacker, 2011) requires some justification. Also, actions speak louder than words. Let’s examine some of the projects to justify the importance of DH.

The Torn Apart / Separados, a collaborative project launched in June 2018 centered around the United States immigration policy of separating families at the Mexico-U.S. border. This project is under the “big tent” of social justice and interventions against government policy to avert humanitarian crises. The most important aspect of this project is giving voice to the unheard, revealing the untold stories, and focusing on those who require to be uplifted. In a broader way, DH scholars have drawn an overall landscape of immigrant detention. The project demonstrates the collaborative power to execute a mammoth project at a greater speed with a distributed network and the ability of storytelling with data to alert people regarding a crisis.

The Colored Conventions Project is a free publicly accessible digital archive and information resource. The collection contains a series of important national meetings of Black leaders with the goal to enhance the living standard of Black communities across the United States and Canada. The project not only emphasizes the meetings but also sheds light on the crucial work performed by the Black women to make them successful that required representation. The project brings historic collaborative effort to life with digital tools and transforms pedagogy for students, activists, and scholars.

The Early Caribbean Digital Archive, is a publicly accessible collection of Caribbean texts (diaries, novels, poetries, travel records, and history), maps, and images of the early twentieth century of the Caribbean. The collection brings the two most critical aspects to light that are at the core of modern capitalism which also existed in the early Caribbean i.e. Plantation slavery and settler colonialism. Also, the phenomenal storytelling of  European imperial domination and enslavement of African and indigenous American people is at the center of the project. The project demonstrates the ability to archive history using digital tools which is an objective of DH.

The aforementioned projects demonstrate the significance of DH in different aspects. In its own way, DH has transformed these projects to serve a greater cause rather than only using digital tools. The question that was raised in the article “The Digital Humanities Moment” is, “Can DH save humanity?” I want to inspect it from the opposite direction of “Does humanity requires saving?” In essence, none of the projects are possible with pure humanities methodology. In my opinion, where traditional humanity stops, DH begins. DH not only fulfills these projects but also set a new standard for Digital projects that truly justify the title “the thing”(Pannapacker, 2011).