Digital Humanities + Social Justice = “Does Not Compute?”

Over the past several months the world has witnessed the impact of social networking tools to advance democracy and social justice in the Middle East, and websites such as, among others, have chosen to critically confront issues of social inequality, race, and genocide. However, few digital humanists to date include the role of social justice in the digital humanities in their ongoing discussions. Attempts to discuss social justice as an outcome of work in the digital humanities have been raised at previous national conferences, including DH2009 and HASTAC 2010, with little success. Most recently THATCamp SoCal’s session on Diversity in Digital Humanities issued a GoogleDoc, “Towards an Open Digital Humanities” that argued “… [the] digital humanities must take active strides to include all the areas of study that comprise the humanities and must strive to include participants of diverse age, generation, sex, skill, race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender, ability, nationality, culture, discipline, areas of interest. Without open participation and broad outreach, the digital humanities movement limits its capacity for critical engagement.” Unfortunately, the phrase “social justice” does not appear anywhere in that call to action. Instead, it maintains that diversity in the digital humanities can be reduced to issues of access and inclusion. “Digital Humanities + Social Justice = ‘Does Not Compute?'” seeks to look beyond the digital divide and considers how social justice can be both a pedagogical goal in our research and teaching, and also a part of our methodologies in the digital humanities.

This session looks to address the following:
1. Why are issues of social justice seemingly incompatible with the digital humanities?
2. What is required for broader, more critical conversations among digital humanists to emerge regarding issues of social justice?

Categories: Proceedings of THATCamp, Session Ideas | Tags: , , , , , |

7 Responses to Digital Humanities + Social Justice = “Does Not Compute?”

  1. clarissalee says:

    But I will be most interested in understanding how DH can contribute to improving and making relevant within a larger context, the way ideology is being theorized in the academia.

  2. clarissalee says:

    This is already being done, albeit still slowly, in Durham, NC. School-going students are involved.

  3. Tess says:

    This is a fantastic idea! It has significant implications for us within our own communities in addition to the more global implications. For example, how can the DH skills that we teach increase opportunities for our students from less privileged backgrounds?

  4. By the way, THATCamp Prime apparently had some discussion of this too. I was not there, but they created a document too, see it here.

  5. GhostProf says:

    I was actually thinking last night about a session on the ecologies of DH as well — our tech does not come from nowhere, and it is material in its impacts on the world. How does that factor into the warm fuzziness of DH community ethos?

  6. Yes! I was the convener of that THATCamp SoCal session (you can read the document we generated here. I’m excited to continue this conversation!!

  7. Janet Simons says:

    I have often wondered about how to introduce students to the tools that they might
    use to effect change in human crisis situations. What do our students need to know and how might they teach those same technologies to community members so they might continue to be used in grassroots efforts?

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