Designing New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Approaches to Digital Humanities

Lecture of Prof. Dr. Roopika Risam, June 4, 12 – 1pm

As the emergence of digital cultures have been celebrated for openness, accesses, and the democratization of knowledge, they have simultaneously led to a rise in inequality with respect to race, gender, sexuality, disability, nation, and other axes of oppression. In response, this talk examines how postcolonial digital humanities offers a viable approach to understanding, uncovering, and remediating inequalities in one dimension of digital culture: digital knowledge production. Drawing from her book “New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy” (Northwestern University Press, 2018), Risam explores how the full supply chain of knowledge production – from research to service to teaching – is implicated in an information-age politics of knowledge that has not only reproduced but also amplified dominant cultural values. She further considers solutions that redress this challenge, arguing for the mobilization of cultural workers who are poised to create new digital worlds that more fully realize what it means to be human in the 21st century.

Roopika Risam is an assistant professor of English and the Faculty Fellow of the Digital Library Initiatives at Salem State University. She is a scholar of digital and postcolonial humanities. Risam’s work focuses on the intersections between postcolonial humanities and ethnic studies. She is the co-director of Reanimate, “an intersectional publishing collective that produces multimodal editions of archival writings by activist women in media.” She has published articles in First Monday and Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology. She has also included writing in the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Postcolonial Studies and the Encyclopedia of Social Movement Media. In 2018, Risam was awarded with the inaugural Massachusetts Library Association’s Civil Liberties Champion Award for her work on “Torn Apart/Separados”, a digital humanities project documenting the sites of immigrant detention centers in the United States. She also released her first book “New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Humanities in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy” from Northwestern University Press in 2018.