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Debates In The Digital Humanities, 2016


As the field of digital humanities has grown in size and scope, the question of how to navigate a scholarly community that is diverse in geography, language, and participant demographics has become pressing. An increasing number of initiatives have sought to address these concerns, both in scholarship—as in work on postcolonial digital humanities or #transformDH—and through new organizational structures like the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organization’s (ADHO) Multi-Lingualism and Multi-Culturalism Committee and Global Outlook::Digital Humanities (GO::DH), a special interest group of ADHO. From the work of GO::DH in particular, an important perspective has emerged: digital humanities, as a field, can only be inclusive and its diversity can only thrive in an environment in which local specificity—the unique concerns that influence and define digital humanities at regional and national levels—is positioned at its center and its global dimensions are outlined through an assemblage of the local. This idea was at the core of my Digital Humanities 2014 talk, in which I suggested that accent is a fitting metaphor for negotiating the relationships among local contexts. Similarly, at Digital Diversity 2015, Padmini Ray Murray insisted, “Your DH is not my DH—and that is a good thing.”Claire Warwick reiterated this idea in her DHSI 2015 keynote speech, suggesting that local institutions and cultures are critical to digital humanities practice. Additionally, in her talk at the Canadian Society of Digital Humanities and Association for Computers and the Humanities joint conference in 2015, Élika Ortega posited, “All DH is local DH.” The insistent resurfacing of this theme at digital humanities conferences signals a critical need for sustained theorization of the relationship between local and global in scholarship and practice.