DH Intellectual Statement

DH is interested in the socio-cultural impact of computer technology and the intersections of digital technologies and humanistic forms of inquiry. That is, how might humanities-based interrogations benefit our discussions of digital tools, technologies, media, and environments? Alternatively, how might the proliferation of computer technologies and digital projects shift what we consider to be “humanistic inquiry”? DH spans a varied terrain and emphasizes collaborative work which results in provocative arrangements of scholarly interests. The authors of Digital_Humanities write, “In the world of current events and unfolding occurrences in the political or cultural sphere, rapid communication on digital platforms alters perception, opinion, values, and outcomes. The digitization of the world’s knowledge and its movement across global networks, no matter how incomplete or incompletely free, have transformed what we understand by and how we approach the humanities in the 21st century. We are continually creating new ways of accessing and assessing this new cultural production…” (26). I suggest our assessment and creation of DH projects can advocate for the restructuring and redesigning of infrastructures and interfaces alike (see the work of Safiya Noble and Lisa Parks). I am also deeply invested in shifting citation practices and privileging the work of people of color.

My work is centered on what Mishuana Goeman (Tonawanda Band of Seneca) terms “unsettling settler notions of space.” I teach colonialism and settler colonialism as gendered, nation-building projects and connect these histories to the development of computer technology and its attendant infrastructures. I argue that the sub-areas of critical information studies, critical infrastructure studies, and critical code and algorithmic studies, as well as a methodology informed by intersectional feminism, are imperative and inseparable from the project of teaching students how to “use” digital tools. It is critical that we challenge the “mastery” of tools in DH classrooms and see technologies as artifacts which are deeply entrenched in colonialism, late capitalism, and the project of globalization. This approach also allows us to critically asses how information circulates, the politics of online representation, and to consider forms of technological appropriation and resistance without participating in the continued erasure of Native peoples. Further, this allows us to consider the impact of alternative and constituent epistemologies and ontologies.

My larger project analyzes Google as a case study and takes a literal approach to the phrase “Google Empire.” That is, what might it mean to treat Google as a force which actively seeks expansion? Is it possible to identify how the company is currently engaged in acts of conquest and imperialist practices? What might these violences look like and how might they mirror the historical violences of the imperialist endeavors of the United States? This work focuses on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and addresses the rejection or strategic utilization of GIS by Native communities globally. Here, I identify moments of dissidence which may inform the creation of constituent ontologies. These organizing structures may provide the grounds for new interface design practices or data visualization that does not further entrench colonial geographies and imaginaries.

DH courses allowed me to develop a hard skill set and become further acquainted with the burgeoning literature and analysis in the emergent field of DH. As a direct result of the courses and opportunities afforded to me, I can articulate my own DH ethic as it pertains to labor practices and project building (i.e. the creation and maintenance of sustainable projects). A majority of the coursework and projects that I have produced and am currently attached to revolve around forms of mapping. Without this training, I would not be able to utilize or critically assess geospatial platforms or tools, a variety of forms of data visualization, nor would I have a working knowledge of code and the invaluable experience of project design and management.

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