Humanistic infrastructure keynote at the UCLA DH Infrastructure Symposium 2017

I am very honored to be a keynote for the UCLA DH Infrastructure Symposium on February 23, 2017. Very excited about this – not least learning from others. The program can be found here.

Here is the abstract of my talk:

Humanistic Infrastucture
We have seen a growth in scholarship on infrastructure, research infrastructure and knowledge infrastructures. This type of work, however, rarely engages strongly with the imagining and building of new infrastructures for the humanities. There is also a strong interest in infrastructure institutionally in the academy and other organizations, and ‘infrastructure speak’, as articulated in policy documents and plans, tends to give strong agency to technology (rather than research questions and educational goals), impose haste and an ‘approximate future’, include little explicit critical inflection and few critical categories, and see infrastructure as a generic tool rather than as an epistemic-critical machinery.

In this talk I will suggest that if infrastructure embeds ideas, values and institutional goals, we need to consider those perspectives when planning and building new infrastructures. This has several consequences. First, we must attend infrastructure critically and in terms of making at the same time. Second, humanities infrastructure cannot be imagined without considering the state and imagined future of the humanities at large and the institutions we represent. Third, humanities infrastructure must relate to scholarship, intellectual agendas and societal action. Finally, I argue that infrastructural thinking and making provides an opportunity for the humanities, but also a frame and template we need to be critical about. I will draw on work inside and outside digital humanities that challenges traditional notions of infrastructure.

The talk will be supported throughout by visual materials and concrete examples, and will incorporate suggestions for building infrastructure. A list of references and sources will be posted on before the event.


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