Any personal journey into a growingly universal medium and mode of living, which is what the Digital in an overarching and permeating manner has proven itself to be, becomes a monologue of the ‘self’ as a protagonist, that must be (and will be) read only with suspicion. We must be able to move from the individual (and even narrower ‘self’) in order to recognise that the Digital has already permeated Humanities. We can only write as an after- at least for quite some time to come. As a discipline forming process, what remains to be seen is whether we are determined to create limiting structures, or whether we can allow our ‘self’ to efface and let us go and grow wherever the Digital currents take us.With this caveat in mind begins the confession that my earliest interactions with the Digital included interactive fictions, gaming and campus political archiving for over more than a decade, in a completely non-academic manner- rather like my love for reading.
By 2013, when the UKERI funded tricontinental (Bangor University Wales, UWV Morgantown USA, JNU India) symposium on “Gaming Across Cultures.” project started, this amorphous interest in DH began to take shape around using techniques of study of Literature to various digital artefacts, which were to be read as (hyper)Texts.
In 2015, techniques developed through the UKIERI interactions were used to present a new approach to Global North-South Imaginaries in a DAAD funded summer school in the University of Tubingen. By this time, with Dr. D. Roy (now Area Chair, Communications, IIM Indore) and Dr. K. Opoku-Agyemang (now Assistant Professor, Department of English, University of Ghana) we had brought out a special edition of The Journal of Digital Gaming and Virtual Worlds, where we collaborated to collect experiential frameworks from four continents- Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.
In 2017, I presented on certain postcolonial aspects of depictions of India in Digital Games in the Digital Humanities conference funded by University of Michigan.
After finishing my PhD in 2016, I got tenured in the 120-year-old Aligarh Muslim University where the department encouraged me to frame and set up possibly the first course on Digital Literatures in an Indian Central University, which commenced in January 2017 for MA level students. The success of the course led to a further review and now AMU offers two separate Digital Literature courses with a strong focus on practical learning for BA and MA levels. AMU has a particular interest in DH from an ELT perspective since we are amongst a handful of universities that offer ELT as a Master’s course.
In 2017 we started the Aligarh Chapter of the ELT@I which too has been using Digital tools from its inception and the chapter has been awarded for two consecutive years for its initiatives and innovations, besides receiving two research grants. From 2019, the English department AMU has started taking up PhD topics from various areas of DH. Of my current 4 PhD research scholars, one is directly working on the area of Digital Gamification and English Language Teaching. Two others, ‘On Othering Within South Asia’ and ‘On Propaganda of Totalitarian Regimes” use significant amounts of digital artefacts as texts.
In 2020 I was awarded a GIAN project in the area of Digital Literatures with University of Alberta as the partnering institution with AMU.
My journey with DHARTI began from when it was DHAI, in the June 2018 conference organised in Indore where I collaborated with Ar. Faraz Farooq from AMU’s school of Architecture to present on an Augmented Reality Museum Project that showcased two separate museum complexes from Aligarh Muslim University that could be navigated in real time. This, amongst others, is the sort of interdisciplinary interconnections that I hope to be able to form and continue to explore and share in the years to come.