I’ve been working as the Director of Institute of Advanced Studies in English (a research institute duly affiliated to S P Pune University) from its inception in 2003. Dr Dhanashree Thorat, my daughter, who has completed her higher studies and doctoral research from American universities, takes keen interest in the Institute activities. In December 2013, she conducted a full-day workshop on Digital Humanities in Pune. That was my first encounter with DH.
The workshop generated huge interest among the humanities scholars in Pune and we decided to create a platform ‘in order to explore, envision, and enhance the intersection of digital technology and the humanities in all aspects.’ This is how Center for Digital Humanities, Pune (CDH) came into being and, for practical reasons, I agreed to work as its Director. This role necessitated browsing and reading about DH, talking about DH in university-level seminars and other events. Gradually, I started exploring possibilities of developing DH awareness programs and of introducing DH in curriculum in conventional universities.
With valuable inputs from Dhanashree, the CDH developed a Certificate Course in DH and one full-fledged elective course at the master’s level that have been implemented by S P Pune University from 2019 and 2020, respectively.
Meanwhile, I participated in several international events on DH, including HASTAC. I also visited some DH Centers in the US and had fruitful interactions with DH scholars, including librarians. In Pune, we organized three winter schools in DH and invited scholars like Rahul Gairola, Padmini Ray Murray, Nirmala Menon, and Paul Arthur. I also participated in the meeting held at Srishti, Bangalore hosted by Padmini and I hold a firm opinion that DHARTI is born out of that germinal meeting. Participation in the first DHARTI Conference in June 2018 at Indore widened my network with the Indian DH Scholars. These days, I have been giving keynote addresses in webinars focused on DH, hosted by universities in different parts of India.
To sum up, I would say that I ventured into the field of DH, unaware of its scope and strength. Having realized its potential, I’ve decided to work for DH through CDH, Pune and DHARTI, as one of the co-founders of both.