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Editors’ Choice: Archival Silences Round-Up

Ted Underwood, Big but not distant, March 3, 2012

  • It’s true that DH doesn’t have to be identified with scale. But the fact remains that problems of scale constitute a huge blind spot for individual researchers, and also define a problem that we know computers can help us explore. And when you first go into an area that was a blind spot for earlier generations of scholars, you’re almost guaranteed to find research opportunities — lying out on the ground like lumps of gold you don’t have to mine.

Katherine Harris, Big Data, DH, Gender: Silence in the Archives?, March 3, 2012

Adeline Koh, Addressing Archival Silence on 19th Century Colonialism – Part 1: The Power of the Archive, Part 2: Creating a Nineteenth Century Postcolonial Archive, March 4, 2012

  • Can the Subaltern speak in the digital archive? This is the first of two blog posts which follows on a recent discussion on about silence in the archives regarding gender and minorities. Readers may be interested in reading Natalia Cecire’s storify of the conversation over twitter and blog posts by Roger Whitson and Katherine Harris to follow up on the discussion. These two posts are concerned with a more specific silence—on race and colonialism in the nineteenth century archive, and how one of my new digital projects, Digitizing ‘Chinese Englishmen,’ attempts to counteract this silence. To date, despite the explosion of digital work on nineteenth century writers and culture, there are no existing digital projects that specifically deal with the impact of British imperialism in the Victorian era. This neglect is surprising, given that by the start of the twentieth century, England’s political reach spanned the majority of the globe. To exclude British imperialism from digital Victorian studies is thus a serious gap that Digitizing ‘Chinese Englishmen’ tries to address.

Roger Whitson, DH, Archival Silence, and Linked Open Data, March 4, 2012

  • I’m thinking through many of the interesting conversations occurring around Twitter and the DH blogosphere recently. First, Miriam Posner had a really powerful post about learning code and gender, where she argues that the broad exhortation to code covers up gender and diversity inequity. The large number of coding institutions, she cites Wikipedia as an example, are overwhelmingly male-dominated. ”[M]en — middle-class white men, to be specific — are far more likely to have been given access to a computer and encouraged to use it at a young age. I love that you learned BASIC at age ten. But please realize that this has not been the case for all of us.” In a particularly thoughtful response in the  comments, Steven Ramsay describes the environment in a meet-and-greet session with male developers as “like a locker room. I counted three women in a group of at least fifty men, but that wasn’t even the worst of it. Porn joke? Check. Sports and warfare metaphors? Abounding. Do-or-die, you-win-or-you-suck vibe? Very much in evidence.”

Natalia Cecire, From Archival silence to glorious data, March 3, 2012

  • How do you use digital methods to analyze the *gaps* in the archive?


This content was selected for Digital Humanities Now by Editor-in-Chief based on nominations by Editors-at-Large: