It is difficult to put a finger on a moment as the beginning of my interest in Digital Humanities- but maybe sometime around the writing of my dissertation in 2009- a postcolonial inquiry about canons and canon making in the discipline. However, life and tenure track sets its own priorities and directions but the interest persisted and really began to consolidate itself as I was finishing work on my second book (first monograph) and it occurred to me that the question of reimagining the postcolonial that I was proposing in my theory will remain theoretical until there were more avenues for discoverability and dissemination of works and literatures outside of the metro spaces of the global north and even some similar spaces in the global south.
This realization partly informed my move from the liberal arts centric environs of a US university to the roller coaster academics of an IIT in India- if you want to marry technology and the humanities, what better platform was there than a campus with some of the brightest technology minded students and faculty? Also- if you want to influence the conceptualization and architecture of technology that includes hitting your head against discursive walls- what better site than that which hosts a bunch of techno-deterministic nerds and geeks?
The challenge of such an argument and discourse was and continues to be an invigorating journey for me. I was writing and publishing thought pieces and presenting in conferences (including ADHO’s annual conf); I was invited as a plenary speaker to the Japanese Association of Digital Humanities (JADH) conference in Tsukuba, Japan in 2013 and there was no looking back. I knew we needed a consolidated effort in India and I began a serious dive into the diverse landscape of digital work across computational linguistics, archiving, digitization, Natural Language Processing, Image Processing and Machine language and Artificial Intelligence. Got in touch with some great folks (many of who came together to form this collective that is now DHARTI) doing digital humanities, thinking digital humanities! Am currently working on a book project tentatively titled “Decolonizing Knowledge Structures: Making Digital Infrastructures a Chaos and Cacophony” (forthcoming end of 2020).
And here we are. Materially, I chair the Digital Humanities and Publishing research group at IIT Indore and you can find details of our work at this link. http://people.iiti.ac.in/~dhiiti/index.php/faculties/. My students’ are the nerve centre of our research activities and a small brief of their work can be found here. http://people.iiti.ac.in/~dhiiti/index.php/current-projects/. A nascent multilingual publishing portal is a pilot project and details can be found here: https://iitikship.iiti.ac.in/