Digital Humanities as Humanistic Infrastructure
University of Glasgow, October 26 at 4 pm (details)
Digital humanities is heavily entangled with infrastructure and infrastructural thinking. The field itself is concerned with standards, curation of data, encoding schemas, tagging systems, project charters, tools, interoperability, maker labs and technologically induced methodology. Furthermore, structures such as centers have been important for the buildup of the field and organizations such as centerNet are there to benefit ”centers as humanities cyberinfrastructure in particular” (centerNet website). There is an infrastructural-organizational complex underlying digital humanities, which is partly grounded in the history of the field (organized digital humanities) and characterized by strong influence from models of infrastructure coming from science and technology and from existing humanities infrastructures such as libraries and cultural heritage institutions. At the same time, humanities at large – although increasingly engaged with infrastructure as a study object – has been unwilling to see itself as infrastructural for several reasons including the very fact that infrastructure is seen as a science and technology construct and arguably, because the (digital) humanities has been reluctant to engage with its own contemporary modes of knowledge production critically, which has contributed to inscribing it as a place without infrastructure. In this talk I argue that making academic infrastructure is ultimately an intellectual challenge and an opportunity for the humanities, and that we need to recruit our critical sensibility in imagining, building and resisting infrastructure.