Community and Digital Humanities

That’s it, man! Game over, man! Game over!

–“Private Hudson”, Aliens, 1986

The meaning of community in the context of digital humanities is not without complication. Not surprisingly, the dynamic range of disciplinary conversations that inform the formation of digital humanities means a clear focal point has not developed. As manifestations of community, digital can mean bringing together humanities scholars interested in technology. These activities have been a central edifice that allows the public to know that “Digital Humanities” exists and understand some of its implications. Yet, the debates around defining digital humanities have given rise to several narratives, some critical of the term, some dubious about the field, and others concerned that an emphasis on “digital humanities” all too easily pushes the humanities to the boundaries of critical discussions. The early discussions about methodology linked to digital humanities mean the landscape around “community” can be challenging to navigate. In truth, as a field, Digital Humanities is old enough at this point that differing narrative born from theoretical frameworks rooted in particular areas of inquiry provides a kind of coherence that is clear to participants in those siloed conversations, but difficult for scholars outside to understand. Still, a consideration of community in digital humanities opens the door to a way of grouping practice and understanding aims that is worth considering. Indeed, digital humanities as a public practice has always provided an enticing possibility for greater engagement. Are we using digital tools to understand better how communities came to be? Are we using a digital tool better to define the scope and relationship within particular communities? Are we concerned with communities of practice or communities created by particular cultural or political forces?

This section exploring community and digital humanities offers an important set of readings that calls attention to the different ways community can manifest in the context of digital humanities. This section opens with a conversation with Dr. Kathleen Fitzpatrick exploring the question of community in digital humanities. Continuing to think about community in digital spaces, Nicole Huff’s “Frankenstein’s Digital Monster: An Exploration of Community-Centered Digital Humanities Projects in Horror, Black Studies, and Gender Studies” and Melanie N. Rodriguez Vazquez’s “Exploring Race, Culture, and Identity in Caribbean and African Diaspora” offer examinations of digital projects that shed light on communities of practice. In contrast, Barry Jason Mauer & John Vanecek’s “Making Repulsive Monuments” highlights the ways collective action are memorialized. John Monberg’s “Building Urban Publics” calls attention to communities of practice shaping our understanding of urbanization. This section ends with a consideration of the SpeakOut! Project by Ronald Dumavor. His case study approach highlights how community-engaged projects—which are based on criminal justice and literacy—can be understood within a digital humanities framework.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Making Sense of Digital Humanities Copyright © 2022 by Julian Chambliss and Ellen Moll is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book