Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What we talk about when we talk about race and technology

During his presentation at the College Language Association (CLA) conference, Bryan Carter mentioned eBlack Studies, Afrofuturism, and what he favored more, "Digital Africana Studies." Beyond those phrases signaling intersections of black people and technology, there's also the larger, more well-funded "digital humanities." What's in a name, and which one is most useful for our concerns?

The abbreviation of "digital humanities" to DH (its practitioners are often referred to as DH'ers) lets us know something about the active conversations taking place that led folks in the community to use shorthand. DH has received extension attention and considerable funding over the years, especially in comparison to those terms associated with black people and technology. So, some are likely asking, should African American scholars do more to embrace language like DH in order to gain necessary funding?

Some years ago, I was a member of the "afrofuturism list," an online discussion group, and participants collaborated on projects, utilized common terminology (the list, AF, afrofuturists, etc.), and most importantly communicated with each other regularly about related topics. The group became less active and did not have systems for growing and recruiting grad students, which was less possible since AF couldn't generate professional development, employment opportunities, and large-scale funding enterprises like DH.

I know less about eBlack Studies and Digital Africana Studies. But I'd be interested to hear about their histories, the composition and activities of their participants, and their language use over time.

Digital Humanities at CLA 2013  

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