VIRTUAL IAS Festival: Making (in) the Digital Humanities
05 May 2021, 3:00 pm–4:30 pm
With Alda Terracciano, Paul Fyfe, Julianne Nyhan and Adam Crymble.
This event is free.
Institute of Advanced Studies
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Often accused of lacking theoretical basis and insight, acts of making in the Digital Humanities are in many ways misunderstood. Recently scholarship is showing the kinds of making and modelling that the Digital Humanities engages in—including, but not limited to, digitisation and imaging; coding and semantic enrichment; interpretative modelling with immersive technologies; and the humanistic fabrication of lost or poorly understood historical objects—to be rich, complex and sometimes even dark processes. Digitisations, for example, have recently been explored as complex sites, where labour, infrastructure, affect, funding, ideology, and more, shape digital resources in configurations that are often not detectable on the surface level of the shiny interface. So too, the objects that Digital Humanities creates, the digital infrastructures that it harnesses and the physical devices that it uses, are increasingly understood to partake of, and give rise to, deeply problematic asymmetries of the wider digital ecosystem: like the racialised and devalued labour forces that underpin it, the economies of exploitation that operate through platform capitalism or the environmental impact of server farms and cryptocurrency mining. In this way, making can be understood as occupying a complex role in the Digital Humanities, it can be a site of, or be implicated acts of liberation and oppression; creativity and constriction. Making in the Digital Humanities can be used to create or imagine new worlds and / or reamplify the worst tendencies of the digitally-mediated world we already have.
This panel will reflect on the central role that making plays in the Digital Humanities, where the endeavour to know, imagine and explore through making is both distinctive to Digital Humanities itself and a potentially innovative epistemological contribution to the wider Humanities. It will ask: What is ‘making’ in the Digital Humanities? What frameworks and perspectives can we use for thinking-through the act of making in the Digital Humanities in all its complexity? What are the implications and complicities of making in the present context and how can Digital Humanities respond to this? And what of making in the wider Humanities – how is Digital Humanities advancing or problematizing this?
This talk forms part of the IAS fifth anniversary festival on the theme of ‘Alternative Epistemologies’.
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