Breaking and Building

The case of postcolonial digital humanities

Authored by: Roopika Risam

The Postcolonial World

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138778078
eBook ISBN: 9781315297699
Adobe ISBN: 9781315297682


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The 2014 Modern Language Association Convention saw the first panel on postcolonial digital humanities, 1 an emerging line of inquiry that seeks a dialogue between the global analyses of knowledge production and power within postcolonial studies and the praxis-driven field of the digital humanities. Topics included decolonizing digital humanities, digital archival silences, postcolonial game studies, the postcolonial digital human, and building global scholarly networks, demonstrating the range of conversations proliferating at the confluences of postcolonial studies and digital humanities. Though a new term framed through emerging conversations about digital humanities, “postcolonial digital humanities” encompasses a broader history of contact between postcolonial criticism and the digital milieu. Since the early 1990s, postcolonial scholars have embraced the affordances of digital media to produce knowledge about the field. 2 In the last decade, science and technology studies has engaged with postcolonial thought through “postcolonial computing,” a critique of development discourse in technology design. 3 More recently “decolonial computing” has brought critical race theory into conversation with theories of postcolonial computing. 4 New media scholars have turned to postcolonial thought as well, considering digital subalternity and networks of capital, communication, and power that mediate between global communities. 5 Within the digital humanities, postcolonial scholars have produced digital scholarship in the form of cultural heritage, archival, and mapping projects. 6

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