Blog Post #6: Reflecting on Emerging Scholarship: Cecilia Marquez

Cecilia Marquez came to our class on Wednesday May 13th and gave a very interesting presentation about the digital humanities. Cecilia is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Virginia. She spoke about DH in the study of history, particularly in an area known as DHPoco, that is, Postcolonial Digital Humanities.

Cecilia asked that the class read two articles before our meeting time: All the Digital Humanists Are White, All the Nerds Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave and Postcolonial Digital Humanities Mission Statement.

Taken together these two articles provided a thorough overview of Postcolonial Digital Humanities and the importance for expanding digital scholarship beyond traditional boundaries. This area of scholarship attempts to do three main things: (1) define the postcolonial digital humanities, (2) locate ways postcolonial studies can and should shift in response to digital changes and challenges, and (3) write alternative genealogies of the digital humanities.

Because digital spaces remain susceptible to racial oppression and white supremacy, postcolonial digital humanities is needed to bring critiques of colonialism, imperialism, and globalization and their relationship to race, class, gender, sexuality and disability to bear on the digital humanities.

In the second half of the class, Cecilia had us each present on a postcolonial digital project and answer the following questions:

  • What do you think is the goal of this site?
  • Is the site making an argument? If so, what is it? How is that argument communicated?
  • Think also here about what you talked about with Brandon and Sarah about design. What argument is the design of the site making? How does it shape your consumption of the site?
  • Who is the audience of the site?
  • What does the site do well? What could be improved?

This exercise in analyzing a website and a DH project was very helpful and was the most interesting part of the day because we were able to explore DH projects and think about incorporating certain aspects in our own project. The most important take away from the examples was that we decided we want to have a Collections tab and an Exhibits tab. The Collections tab will simply provide raw unedited access to the materials while the Exhibits tab will provide a curated and analytical approach to the material.

I really enjoyed Cecilia’s talk and think that we not only learned a lot of really cool information but also that we expanded our understanding of DH and learned of the possibilities for applying a Postcolonial Digital Humanities approach to our project.