Reinvention as DH Praxis: Reflecting on (Nearly) a Decade of the Global DH Symposium

Reinvention as DH Praxis: Reflecting on (Nearly) a Decade of the Global DH Symposium

ADHO Digital Humanities Conference
August 5-9, 2024
Alexandria, Virginia

Poster presentation with Kate Topham and Arun Jacob.

Abstract

The Global DH Symposium foregrounds voices from the Global South and marginalized communities. This poster focuses on three areas of reinvention driven by our values and speaks to the ways that we hold ourselves responsible to the community we have cultivated: (1) open peer review; (2) modality; (3) publication venues.

Proposal

Conferences are critical infrastructure for the facilitation, curation, and creation of knowledge through which communities come together. Considering the centrality of conference attendance, presentation, and post-event publications to the development of the scholarly record and in determining scholarly reward, critiques of the power and structures of conferences (Nebiolo and Palermo 2019; Eichmann-Kalwara et al. 2019; Estill et al. 2022) are crucial to advancing an ethical field and holding infrastructure accountable to the community. 

The labor involved in the planning, organizing and executing conferences is rarely discussed as a form of digital humanities praxis. The growing episteme of critique and reflection on how DH conferences are operationalized makes clear how “inclusive representation and community diversity” are enacted and need to be thought through and overhauled (Gao et al., 2023).

In 2015, Domenico Fiormonte, Teresa Numerico, and Francesca Tomasi envisioned that within the next ten years, the field of digital humanities would see geographic expansion and the inclusion of non-Western perspectives. That decade is nearly complete, yet their vision is yet to be achieved. Digital Humanities conferences, in particular, still favor white male presenters and European-focused perspectives (Eichmann-Kalwara et al. 2019).

The Global Digital Humanities Symposium, run annually since 2016, seeks to create a “zone of contact,” as envisioned by Elika Ortega (2019). In this space, we foreground voices from the Global South and perspectives from marginalized and hyper-localized communities, and the complementarity of the local and the global is considered rather than conflated (Risam 2016). We embed social justice-oriented values, global engagement, and care work at every level of the Symposium while being conscious of our positionality in Western colonial institutions.

Each year, we reinvent the Symposium with those values in mind, looking for ways to make the event truly global. This poster focuses on three areas of reinvention in this history of the Symposium that were driven by our values and speak to the ways that we try to hold ourselves responsible to the community that we cultivated over the past nine years.

Review Process

The Symposium ran using a double-anonymous review process from 2017-2023, during which time we relied on the invisible volunteer work of several dozen reviewers as well as a laborious by-hand matching system. For the 2024 Symposium, we departed from that manual system to Oxford Abstracts. This prompted us to shift to an open-review system to make our submitters known to a wider audience and provide the global context of each proposal to our reviewers.

Modalities

The pandemic prompted a major reinvention in the format of the Symposium, but provided an opportunity to fulfill plans that had been stalled due to budget and [technical] constraints. In 2021, the Symposium accepted non-English presentations for the first time and offered live interpretation. We also began to provide human-created captioning during the virtual program. We have maintained this commitment to inclusion even as the Symposium has transitioned to a hybrid event.

Scholarly Afterlife

From the first days of the Symposium, we have provided infrastructure for presenters to contribute their work to the scholarly record. Since the first Symposium in 2016, we have shared recordings of presentations that were live-streamed with the aim that those artifacts serve to amplify the work of the scholars and support their continued life in the field. In 2021, we launched proceedings on Humanities Commons, using its features as a public website and a subject repository to encourage discovery. We released a double special issue of Reviews in DH to showcase 8 projects that were part of the 2023 Symposium, and we anticipate future collaborations with Reviews. 

In celebration of the 10th Symposium in 2025, we will launch a Global Digital Humanities journal as a publication venue for global DH work writ large. This journal will be an open and inclusive space, offering translation across languages and across cultural contexts, opening possibilities for scholarly visibility and reward (Ortega 2019).

In this poster, we share the values, processes, and challenges that animate the Global Digital Humanities Symposium. We seek to learn from/with our colleagues how to responsibly serve the interests of our communities and continue to reinvent our conference as a knowledge exchange platform and as critical DH infrastructure.

Works Cited

Eichmann-Kalwara, Nickoal, Jeana Jorgensen, and Scott B. Weingart. “Representation at Digital Humanities Conferences.” Bodies of Information: Intersectional Feminism and the Digital Humanities (2019), edited by Elizabeth Losh and Jacqueline Wernimont, University of Minnesota Press, 2018, pp. 72–92. https://doi.org/10.5749/j.ctv9hj9r9.9

Estill, Laura, Jennifer Guiliano, Élika Ortega, Melissa Terras, Deb Verhoeven, and Glen Layne-Worthey. “The circus we deserve? A front row look at the organization of the annual academic conference for the Digital Humanities.” DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly 16.4 (2022). http://digitalhumanities.org:8081/dhq/vol/16/4/000643/000643.html

Fiormonte, Domenico, Teresa Numerico, and Francesca Tomasi, The Digital Humanist: A Critical Inquiry. Translated from the Italian by Desmond Schmidt with Christopher Ferguson.  Punctum Books, 2015. https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctv1bd4hbj 

Nebiolo, Molly and Gregory J. Palermo. “DH2018: A space to build bridges.” DHQ: Digital Humanities Quarterly 13.1 (2019). http://digitalhumanities.org:8081/dhq/vol/13/1/000413/000413.html 

Ortega, Élika. “Zonas de Contacto: A Digital Humanities Ecology of Knowledges.” Debates in the Digital Humanities 2019, edited by Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein, University of Minnesota Press, 2019, pp. 179–87. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.5749/j.ctvg251hk.18

Risam, Roopika. “Navigating the Global Digital Humanities: Insights from Black Feminism.” Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016, edited by Matthew K. Gold and Lauren F. Klein, University of Minnesota Press, 2016, pp. 359–67. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.5749/j.ctt1cn6thb.32

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