Editors' note on the December 2023 issue of Reviews in Digital Humanities, a special issue from the Global DH Symposium, guest edited by Heather F. Ball, Viola Lasmana, Kristen Mapes, Ysabel Muñoz Martinez, and Merve Tekgürler
Roopika Risam and Jennifer Guiliano
With December upon us, we bring you the last issue of Reviews in Digital Humanities in 2023. We’re pleased to share Part II of our two-part special issue from the 2023 Global DH Symposium held at Michigan State University.
To learn more about our interest in partnering with the team at the Global DH Symposium for our first experiment in conference special issues, please check out our November editors’ note. We hope you enjoy reading the second part of this issue and are grateful to the guest editors, project directors, and reviewers who made it possible. Special thanks, as well, to our managing editor Stacy Reardon for her work facilitating this issue.
We at Reviews want to acknowledge a tremendous loss to digital humanities. Angel David Nieves, Dean’s Professor of Public and Digital Humanities and Professor of Africana Studies and History and Director of Public Humanities at Northeastern University, passed away on December 5, 2023. Angel was an enthusiastic early supporter of our work at Reviews. He reviewed the Immersive Scholar initiative for our third issue, in March 2020, when we had just begun the journal. No stranger to launching innovative initiatives of his own, Angel was a fantastic partner for us as we thought through how to peer review programs, like Immersive Scholar, that support digital humanities, instead of only reviewing digital scholarship itself. Angel was also a scholar who typified the values that guide our journal: a commitment to care, generosity, openness, and social justice. We greatly miss Angel and share in the grief of all who are mourning his loss.
We will be on winter break from December 15, 2023-January 15, 2024 to give our team a break. We will resume our regular operations on January 16, 2024.
We welcome your participation in Reviews in Digital Humanities. You can submit a project for review, nominate a project you admire, volunteer for our reviewer pool, and tell your colleagues and students about the journal.
Questions? Thoughts? Concerns? Contact the editors, Jennifer Guiliano and Roopika Risam, by email or through the Twitter hashtag #ReviewsInDH.
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The Global DH Symposium, established in 2016, was first created to showcase the vibrant digital humanities work taking place at Michigan State University in conversation with keynote presentations from scholars with areas of expertise touching on global issues of the digital. That first year inspired the expansion of the symposium to run a full CFP process to invite presentations from around the world to gather people in East Lansing, Michigan. As we grew the symposium in subsequent years, we were always driven by the question of how to make the event truly global.
The Global DH Symposium has become a thriving venue for sharing a range of projects, theoretical frameworks, and critiques that engage the digital humanities around the globe and/or consider the global as a critical concept intersecting with digital humanities. The 2023 symposium, held as a combination of three virtual half-days of programming plus a return — since the COVID-19 pandemic — to one full in-person day, gathered speakers representing over 13 countries.
This special issue of Reviews in Digital Humanities provides a small sampling of projects from the 46 presentations at the 2023 symposium and more than 80 symposium applications (the full array is accessible in the Global DH Symposium proceedings published on Humanities Commons). Our selection process for this special issue was iterative and collaborative, beginning in Fall 2022 after publishing the 2023 Call for Papers, determined by this issue’s editors at the recommendation of the symposium reviewers, and based on a specific set of criteria (including relevance to our Global DH Symposium ethos and praxis, accessibility, aesthetics, and content). Our goal is for this issue to serve multiple audiences and settings: digital humanities practitioners and scholars, students, teachers, academics and non-academics alike, activists, and the curious reader. We are also mindful of showcasing projects that may not have found extensive representation in the global digital humanities community, and that deserve greater visibility.
This special issue is divided across two volumes, with projects published in alphabetical order:
Part I (published in November 2023) included Affirmations 2.0, Alive in their garden, the Bitter Aloe Project, and Folklore, Place and Song: Mapping Corridos Across Mexico and the American Southwest.
Part II, published here, consists of The Hajj Trail, Pacific Virtual Museum, South Asian Canadian Archive, and Urarina Digital Heritage Project.
Ranging from collections, to cultural archives, games, interactive maps, and immersive exhibitions, the diversity in content, form, and genre demonstrates the vibrancy of Global DH Symposium projects highlighting the rich cultures, histories, and works of BIPOC migrants, artists, media-makers, scholars, archivists, and curators.
The Global DH Symposium emerged from the desire to bring together a community of digital humanities scholars, practitioners, and activists with a commitment to going beyond the traditional bounds of North American and European digital humanities. This meant engaging the terms of the global in both its expansiveness and limitations, caring about heterogenous works that may not be named digital humanities because of the unevenness of the field’s formations in different geographical locations, being mindful about the role of language, and being alert to the intersections of digital humanities and social justice. We aimed for this special issue to reflect our longstanding commitments to innovation, historically-rich digital projects, multilingualism, diasporas, historically marginalized communities, and a diversity of genre and form.
As an ever-growing international and collaborative community, the Global DH Symposium occupies a unique place in the broader digital humanities world. The symposium thrives precisely because of our foundations in community building: from its inception, we imagined our community beyond symposium participation, and formed a planning committee from around the world that includes non-Michigan State University members from all levels and types of academic careers (including faculty, doctoral candidates, librarians, archivists, postdocs), as well as undergraduate and high school students.
The projects showcased in this special issue enhance, expand, and transform our understanding and articulation of community inside and outside of the archive. No archive is neutral, and digital affordances challenge how colonialism, indigeneity, race, and gender have been portrayed in official narratives, like these projects demonstrate. In their different genres, each of the projects activates a form of archival knowledge. These exciting, interactive works are repositories of history and culture, as well as shared spaces between the project creators and users.
Part II (December 2023)
Created by Tyler Kynn and Russ Gasdia and reviewed by Merve Tekgürler, The Hajj Trail transforms Ottoman archival materials about Hajj, the Islamic rite of pilgrimage, into an educational simulation game. The project’s engagement with early modern Ottoman Turkish, Arabic, and Persian sources includes pilgrimage accounts and documents about the management of the pilgrims’ travels. This interactive work showcases how historians can leverage their professional training to create a public-facing project allowing wider audiences, particularly students from non-specialist backgrounds, to learn about Ottoman history.
The Pacific Virtual Museum (led by Tim Kong, Taputukura Raea, and Ulu Afaese, and reviewed by Kate Topham) centers the cultural heritage of the Pacific and enables communities in the Pacific Islands and beyond to discover resources and collections around the world that they may not have known existed. A tribute to the histories, experiences, and lives of Pacific Island peoples, the Pacific Virtual Museum is a vital example of the significance of digital preservation and circulation in resisting systematic erasures of the cultures and legacies of historically marginalized communities.
The South Asian Canadian Digital Archive (SACDA), led by Satwinder Kaur Bains, Thamilini Jothilingam, and Alisa Sohi, and reviewed by Luis Meneses, gathers multimedia resources to tell the history, culture, and heritage of the South Asian diaspora across Canada. More than just a repository, SACDA nurtures public engagement through its curated collections and exhibits, underscoring the importance of preserving stories of diasporic communities and connecting them with the broader public.
Utilizing Indigenous information systems and cultural protocols to create a rich archive of Urarina cultural heritage, the Urarina Digital Heritage Project (reviewed by Jennifer Isasi) activates the possibility of a decolonized digital archive. Led by Bartholomew C. Dean, Emanuel Fabiano, Sylvia Fernández, Brian Rosenblum, and Emma Bruce, along with a larger team, the Urarina Digital Heritage Project is a collaborative effort among Urarina cultural specialists, scholars, and non-academics in the United States and Peru. This online collection of Urarina cultural objects empowers the Urarina people’s connection to their heritage and generates deeper awareness of ethical archival practices for the wider community. Urarinaaürü, after all, means people. This project depends on the sensibilities, beliefs, ethics, and practices of the Urarina people, making it an indispensable cultural work.
We hope for this special issue to be one point of departure — among the many departures that Reviews in Digital Humanities has provided — for creating more spaces in digital humanities for an ever-expanding network of digital projects to emerge.