Replicating Traditional Histories? How is DH the same or different than non-digital history.

My impressions about the Digital Humanities filed continues to grow the more I become educated about it.  The basic core value of DH is the integration of digital spaces and technology with studies and research into the humanities fields.  Examples of digital technologies include blogging, exhibits, websites and podcasting platforms for online presentation of research, as well as programs for data scraping and geospatial mapping.  Examples of digital spaces include archives that are being digitized and made accessible online.  The DH field has no permanently defined perimeters beyond its core of combining digital with humanities.  Yet, researchers in DH are strongly encouraged to be reflective about what it is they are doing and hoping to accomplish with DH.  Practitioners are also engaged in an ongoing open dialogue about the field – there is a lot of discussion about what DH is and is trying and what it is supposed to accomplish.  In a recent book chapter, Roopika Risam defined DH as “creating a digital cultural record of humanity.”  This is generally accurate across all humanities fields.  But Risam questions whether or not DH is just replicating the traditional types of cultural heritage studies and merely presenting these in digital formats.  Particularly, Risam questions if DH projects are being inclusive in its presentation of humans.  She wonders who is getting digitized and coded in metadata.  Are DH presentations marginalizing women, the African diaspora, Latinx, Native Americans, and other traditionally overlooked groups?[1]  I continue to see DH as a practical set of research tools that I can use to augment by research.  But I am increasingly considering theoretical concerns within the field.

[1] Roopika Risam, “Digital Humanities,” in Uncertain Archives: Critical Keyword for Big Data, ed. Nanna Bonde Thylstrup, Daniela Agostinho, Annie Ring, Catherien D’Ignazio and Kristin Veel (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2021), 161-170.