‘Beyond the Margins: Intersectionality and the Digital Humanities’ respone

I have recently read Roopika Risam’s article on Intersectionality in the Digital Humanities.

This article speaks a lot about trying to create a more equal and fairer side to the relatively new academic part of digital humanities. Digital humanities scholarship has a role of difference and diversity. But many people, including McPherson, believe the digital humanities is still too white. Our relationship with diversity is ever present yet we still needed to reach out to those in under-represented groups such as people of colour, women and LGBT members. I agree with Risam when she says that this is showing  that scholars in digital humanities have recognized the need for intellectual diversity in the field.

Theory and practice are all closely related and is an integral part of digital humanities. This leads into the ‘hack vs. yack’ debate (Doing vs. theorizing). This has been complicated by the intimate link between building and knowing in the field which I believe is the main differing point of the digital humanities.

Many people, such as Earhart, believe that fewer scholars are working on digital textual recovery. I believe that not only is this true it may be the right way to go. We shall eventually diversify all available texts but the diversity of digital humanities means that there are many more projects to be working on. Especially projects that deal with cultural studies, race, feminism, postcolonial studies and queer studies. While the spotlight is on digital humanities we need to pay attention to our critical approaches of these works of intersectionality.

The lessons of Theory 

The responses to digital humanities now are taught of as a culture war as was the struggle between literature and theory in the early 1990’s. Many stipulate that digital humanities is changing literature to data which is destroying close reading. The backlash against theory came and many scholars were afraid that theory  opposed their work. But there were others, like Barbara Christian that wrote of the growing importance of theory on academics. I am on Christian’s side of things as I have found theory to be very relevant in studies today. history is repeating itself as digital humanities scholars working with difference worry for its viability as people feared for their relationship with theory years ago.

I am worried of what may happen to digital humanities scholars who engage difference in their work. Will we be stomped out by those afraid of change or will we be accepted across universities and work places worldwide ? Digital humanities is here to try and push the boundaries of studies today as well as being more accepting of inclusion and collaboration to create projects. For example, #transformDH aims to open explorations to disabilities, race, feminism and sexuality to name a few. Many others have been working on projects which ask difficult questions about difference and the internet for a while now such as Lisa Nkamura, Wendy Chun and Anna Everett.

Towards an Intersectional Digital Humanities

Risam goes on to speak of moving towards an intersectional Digital Humanities. She writes that we not only need diversity among race, sexuality etc. but we also need intellectual diversity to carry the Digital Humanities community. Risam cites Martha Neil Smith who says that embracing humanity and all it’s diversities is a necessity. Now more than ever is this true as technology has connected the world is ways that used to never be even imagined.

A main point is brought up again when Risam talks of digital humanities engagement and approach with difference. Many may think this a radical move by DH but it needs to be done. Intellectual diversity is needed in all areas of academics. By accepting intersectionality both the technical world and the world of disciplinary knowledge join. We are after all in ‘The digital age’ where everything relates to technology in one way or another. There are many projects that approach an intersectional Digital Humanities with open arms as it should.

I really found Risam’s article affects each and everyone of us in many ways. It speaks of connecting the world on an intellectual level and ignores all previous thoughts on both an academic level and a personal level. She shows us the reality that just because you are born and brought up a certain way your opinion is more perceived as being more valuable than another humans.

I leave you with this little not on Intersectioanlity

(1) Intersectionality in Digital Humanities – Roopika Risam

(2) Intersectionality Image – The blue triangle



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