[globaloutlookDH-l] paper on global DH at re:publica 13

David Golumbia dgolumbia at gmail.com
Wed May 8 07:06:04 MDT 2013

Dear list members,

I've been tied up with a number of things lately and been unable to
complete a response to the earlier thread about multilingualism and
globalization, which I hope to do soon, as I feel that some of the most
important issues have not yet been addressed thoroughly enough.

While reading the live tweets (hashtag #rp13) of the re:publica 13
conference now taking place in Berlin, I ran across this abstract for a
paper by Nishant Shah, who directs the research portfolio at the Centre for
Internet and Society in Bangalore (http://cis-india.org/author/nishant). It
seems to me to speak to some of the issues that have been raised as well as
some that have not, and that I hope we can discuss more fully in the


"Say 'Digital Humanities' One More Time: Technology, affect and learning in
emerging information societies"

Nishant Shah <https://re-publica.de/en/users/nishantshah>

One of the ironies of the local-global divide is that certain practices
within the local sphere often precede the global nomenclatures that are
assigned to them. ‘Digital Humanities’ is a prime example of this
phenomenon where a clutch of practices which emerged with the rise of
digital technologies and their integration into the national policies on
higher education and learning, are now retrospectively understood as
‘Digital Humanities’. So even as the term was gaining currency in the
European and North American context, becoming one of the buzzwords through
which new conditions of pedagogy and education were imagined within the
Universities in the North-West, it had almost no takers in the emerging
knowledge industries of South Asia in general, and India in particular.

Within this context, it has now become natural, for all talks about
education to eventually veer towards infrastructure. There is enough reason
for that, when we look at the pitiful lack of resources in the country
vis-à-vis the size of the population, and many of the larger problems
endemic in higher education today, are tied down to this massive
infrastructure deficit.Simultaneously, there has always been a severe
fragmentation and compartmentalisation of knowledge systems within the
academia, which is not restricted to only the Humanities which is
increasingly facing the pressure to make itself relevant and produce
work-forces for a global finance driven market.

The questions of professionalising and mainstreaming humanities and social
sciences education are almost universal right now, and indeed, one of the
ambitions of Digital Humanities projects which are seeking to find validity
for education that does not prepare a global information work-force. The
realignment of the market with the education system, has been critiqued by
theorists of neo-liberal globalisation, who have pointed out how it enables
state disinvestment from education and the privatisation of learning
resources. However, even in these existing critiques of Digital Humanities
(whether they use that term or not), there seems to be a consensual
agreement that infrastructure building is necessary and must happen.

This talk, critically examines the implications of adopting Digital
Humanities as a principle in emerging information societies, and drawing
from experiments with students in 9 undergraduate colleges in India,
examines the ways in which it needs to reconsider its relationship with the
more accepted ideas of infrastructure, usage, adoption and learning.


David Golumbia
dgolumbia at gmail.com
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