The readings this week were helpful to me, as someone who has a vague (but passionate) sense of what DH truly is, in identifying possible practical applications of DH. The readings were a genuine and welcome introduction into the foundation and history of DH’s emergence.
However, what I found most interesting, as someone whose scholarship has thus far been focused on post-colonial theory and literature (specifically post-colonial African & Caribbean Lit), was The Early Caribbean Digital Archive website. Specifically, the section on Decolonizing the Archive. It brought to mind a question on DH as social justice. A digital archive becomes a question of accessibility. Traditionally, academia (and the humanities most frequently) has relied on physical representations of knowledge – texts in libraries and archives, documents that live in basements and temperature controlled rooms in libraries. These aren’t necessarily accessible spaces, especially for groups that are scarred by colonization.
The digital archive then, offers an opportunity to bypass traditional academic and intellectual gate-keeping by sharing, collaborating, and as the site points out, the chance to “disrupt, review, question, and revise the colonial knowledge regime that informs the archives from which we draw most of our materials” – this is a fascinating concept to me. Digital tools can certainly be limiting in some ways, but the idea that decolonization can take place through a digital archive, is the sort of thing that makes me reframe my initial ideas of what DH is.
Archiving – digital or otherwise – aren’t my specific area of interest, but this creates a clear connection for me between humanist study and digital tools, one that isn’t “mapping” (which I have little frame of reference for and struggle to conceptualize beyond a literal mind image of a google map with photos strewn about it).
DH as a decolonization tool is very appealing and also brings the semesters topic more into focus for me.