Editors' note on the November 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
As the term winds down, we are excited to bring you the November issue of Reviews in Digital Humanities. This month, we have Part I of our two-part special issue from the 2023 Global DH Symposium held at Michigan State University.
As we have detailed in editors’ notes of the past, we at Reviews in Digital Humanities are committed to exploring a range of ways to best support peer review of projects throughout the many digital humanities communities around the world. We came up with the idea of Reviews potentially having a role in conferences by producing conference special issues. We were delighted that the organizers of the Global DH Symposium were willing to experiment with us as the first conference special issue we have produced. In particular, we have greatly admired how the symposium has demonstrated a commitment to social justice, which aligns with the journal’s mission. We have also appreciated that it is a welcoming space that showcases a diverse range of digital humanities around the world, which is what we strive for too. We hope you enjoy reading the first part of this two-part issue as much as we enjoyed working with the Global DH Symposium team to pull it together.
If you are considering submitting a project to us for review, please note that Reviews will be on winter break from December 15, 2023-January 15, 2024. We will be publishing our December issue on the 18th but will not be sending or responding to emails during this time. In the past, we have found that soliciting reviewers requires more labor during this period because many are slower to respond, so we decided to give our team a break to regroup. 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 (November 2023) includes Affirmations 2.0: The Politics of Liberation and Exploration of Healing in Digital Games, Alive in their garden, the Bitter Aloe Project, and Folklore, Place and Song: Mapping Corridos Across Mexico and the American Southwest. Part II (forthcoming in December 2023) 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, mediamakers, 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 I (November 2023)
Diamond E. Beverly-Porter’s Affirmations 2.0: The Politics of Liberation and Exploration of Healing in Digital Games, reviewed by Taylor Hughes-Barrow, is a video game and visual representation of Black life that centers healing instead of trauma and pain. With an aesthetics and ethics of care, this game mobilizes interactive ways of archiving how historically marginalized, especially BIPOC communities, survive and thrive. A digital game for all ages, this is a project born out of love for the community.
Alive in their garden, reviewed by Gimena del Rio Riande, is a multilayered virtual exhibit created and curated by Mary Pena at the Afro-Latinx Microlab (a collaborative space within the Open Boat Lab and the Diaspora Solidarities Lab directed by Yomaira Figueroa-Vásquez and Jessica Marie Johnson). A tribute to the Mirabal sisters who were murdered in 1960 for fighting against the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, this project activates a feminist poetics of resistance and remembering, a necessary part of repairing history and of enacting justice in spite of state violence and repression.
Using data from South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) archives, the Bitter Aloe Project (led by Stephen Davis and William Mattingly, and reviewed by Nabeel Siddiqui) builds custom machine learning models that expand the research possibilities of engaging with human rights archives. By making these archives accessible and visible in innovative ways, the Bitter Aloe Project alters our relationship with the historical record, and with history itself.
In Folklore, Place, and Song: Mapping Corridos Across Mexico and the American Southwest, (created by Fiona Hartley-Kroeger, Matthew Kollmer, Loida Pan, and Isabella Viega, and reviewed by Ysabel Muñoz Martínez), issues of identity, cultural expression, and borders are interwoven in an interactive map to demonstrate how communities narrate themselves in corridos, a Mexican narrative song/ballad, despite ongoing erasure. As an archive of Latinx culture, music, and history, this project traces how and where corridos have traveled and continue to travel as “living folklore,” making the project one of affirmation.
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.