Wanna Establish DH Collaborative Guidelines?

Our small (but highly capable) HUM 501 class worked collectively to draft a set of community guidelines for collaborative work in our small (but growing) Digital Humanities (DH) network here at the University of Southern Mississippi.  Establishing guidelines is essential, because by its very nature DH projects often require that teams of diverse people come together and work productively and effectively.  In the university environment, you have people ranging from tenured senior-scholar faculty to undergraduates attempting to learn what the heck DH is exactly.  In between you have junior scholars and graduate students in various states of progression earning masters and PhDs, and everyone is at different levels of knowledge, skills and experiences with the methods and theories around DH.  In her chapter, “Paid to Do but But Not to Think” Rachel Mann argued against the consideration and treatment of students like “employees,” wherein they complete work on a project but get marginal credit or recognition for their contributions.[1]  Mann is particularly concerned that students, who are attempting to get marketable skills and professional qualifications for publishing about their work, are not getting this in the DH project environment.  Owners and managers of projects are usually the ones publishing and getting primary credit for the DH work.  This type of exploitation is strikingly similar to that discussed by Amy Earhart in her chapter, “Can We Trust the University?”[2]  Earhart is concerned with the exploitation of historically disadvantaged communities in DH projects.  The concern is that these community members are used as subjects or data points that are managed by elitist scholars.  The communities are unlikely to be given ownership, credit for their contributions, or even have a say in how their lives are presented.  Establishing community guidelines is important to undertake DH projects in a manner that doesn’t replicate past exploitative practices of people.

[1] Rachel Mann, “Paid to Do but Not to Think: Reevaluating the Role of Graduate Student Collaborators,” in Debates in the Digital Humanities 2019 (https://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/read/untitled-f2acf72c-a469-49d8-be35-67f9ac1e3a60/section/ea501a60-dd3c-4c22-a942-3d890c3a1e72#ch22), accessed October 6, 2021.

[2] Amy Earhart, “Can We Trust the University? Digital Humanities Collaborations with Historically Exploited Cultural Communities,” in Bodies of Information (https://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/read/untitled-4e08b137-aec5-49a4-83c0-38258425f145/section/c449610c-af71-4373-9359-0eb138a15d51#ch20), accessed October 6, 2021.