can digital humanities mean transformative critique?

While I was at the Eaton/SFRA conference on science fiction media this past weekend (of which more soon), the new Journal of e-Media Studies, a special issue on Computational Cultures After the Cloud edited by Jentery Sayers, came out. It includes some really wonderful pieces, both full essays and less formal interviews.

I’m especially excited to read Nick Marx’s Storage Wars: Clouds, Cyberlockers, and Media Piracy in the Digital Economy and Anne Cong-Huyen’s “Dark Mass,” or the Problems with Creative Cloud Labor, which I was lucky enough to hear as an MLA presentation in 2012. And Adeline Koh’s interview with Wendy Chun is wonderful and includes an important critique of the exhortation But there’s plenty more to explore as well as those pieces.

Of course, though, one reason I am making this post is for self promotion. My coauthored essay with Amanda Phillips, Can Digital Humanities Mean Transformative Critique?, is part of the issue. It’s part manifesto, part list: we wrote about our history with and hopes for #transformDH and gathered together some examples of digital humanities projects  (broadly defined!) that center marginalized perspectives in a transformative way. Here’s the abstract:

What would digital scholarship and the humanities disciplines be like if they centered around processes and possibilities of social and cultural transformation as well as institutional preservation? If they centered around questions of labor, race, and gender and justice at personal, local, and global scales? If their practitioners considered not only how the academy might reach out to underserved communities, but also how the kinds of knowledge production nurtured elsewhere could transform the academy itself? Exploring the conversations that have centered around the Twitter hashtag #transformDH in the past two years, this essay argues that such questions are not hypothetical and that these digital humanities already exist. With the intention of inspiring further work in a similar vein, we offer a curated list of projects, people, and collaborations that suggest the possibilities of a transformative digital humanities.

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