Dr. Dibyadyuti Roy
Faculty, Department of Communication, Indian Institute of Management Indore
1. Digital Humanities on a global basis has been associated with a methodology of change. By this “methodology of change,” I intend to imply not only ever-altering perspectives on “making” within the humanities but indeed on how it is being made and more importantly where it is being made. While Stephen Ramsay’s provocative comments on “Who’s in and Who’s out” in DH remains a key point of contention, the larger question—for-me—remains: how do we define the “Big Tent” when we are unaware of how and where the tent is constructed?
2. I do not find the inherent fluidity in the terms that have preceded (and in some cases continue to exist simultaneously with) DH, such as Humanities Computing, problematic in the least. My first exposure to the world of DH was through an act of archiving syllabi in the “Center for Literary Computing” at West Virginia University (WVU). This (apparently mundane) task of collecting syllabi for all the different courses that have been taught in the Department of Literary and Cultural Studies at WVU was aimed at creating/making a knowledgebase for pedagogical purposes. For me it represents the finest potential of the digital in the humanities and vice versa: representing knowledge as accessible through the use of technology. Not surprisingly, I see DH as an inherently pedagogical site.
3. Since my foray into DH I have seen this methodology of change manifested in different ways: through a tri-continental research project on Computer Gaming across Cultures, to exhibiting and (literally) projecting works of electronic literature on the walls of buildings, to understanding how time spent on social media and micro-blogging websites can affect a freshman’s composition skills.
My hope for promoting the DH methodology (of change) in India is predicated on the fact that we are the “land of jugaad.” In every nook and corner, we find individuals battling the systemic inequality — performed by their caste, gender, creed, religion, sexuality, able-bodiedness etc. — through unbelievably innovative acts of making. Unfortunately, though such acts of making often end up reinforcing the social, economic and political conditions, which produce this inequality in the first place. The digital humanist in India, as I see them, will harness the methodology of jugaad into their projects.
4. Being back in India is making me acutely aware of the academic and institutional privileges we often take for granted in European and North American contexts. DH (projects) in India therefore must function through cross-institutional collaborations, if we are to deal effectively with the issues of access and viability.