WM Fellowship at King’s

I have exciting news! I have been nominated the Willard McCarty Fellowship 2018-2019 at the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London. It is one of the largest and most prestigious departments of digital humanities worldwide and the first department of DH established in Europe. I couldn’t imagine a better place to share and develop my research interests! I will give a talk “A Laboratory as Critical Infrastructure in the Humanities” at King’s on 23rd May. More information soon!

The abstract of my talk:

Laboratories have entered the humanities as a new infrastructure aimed at transforming the humanities into an experimental, collaborative, and technology-driven discipline. With the spread of the idea of the laboratory into academic spaces, city spaces, and cultural institutions, the definition of lab has been extended significantly. A laboratory goes beyond the notion of a physical place involving specialized instruments and hands-on scientific exploration, becoming, instead, a widely understood project. A laboratory is thus more than infrastructure; it is a “conceptual vehicle” (Critical Media Lab at the Academy of Art and Design FHNW) and it involves “new ways of engaging with public audiences” (the Humanities Laboratories at Duke University). In short, a laboratory can be conceptualized as a way of thinking that entails new social practices and new research modes. Thus, a lab can be established anywhere. The only condition for creating a lab is community: a lab is constituted by and for the people gathered together to address particular challenges.

My goal is to present the impact of the laboratory through two different perspectives: infrastructural changes in the humanities and structural changes through the humanities. I attempt to go beyond the discussion of a laboratory as a research infrastructure to investigate it as the infrastructure of engagement in social and global challenges. Hence, I pose the following questions: How does a laboratory grow from a physical workspace into actions taken around challenges? How does a laboratory become the driving force of the engaged humanities? How can changes be made through the (digital) humanities infrastructure? Drawing on the sociology of scientific knowledge, laboratory studies, and critical infrastructure studies, I will address these questions and explore the laboratory as a platform for systemic changes.

This talk will consist of two parts. In the first part, I will present three discourses that gave rise to the laboratory in the humanities: the transformation of the humanities infrastructure within the university, the paradigm shifts in the social sciences, and the expansion of particular cultural categories. Further, based on an interactive map of laboratories (humanities labs, digital humanities labs, and media labs) established around the world, I will sketch the history of the lab in the humanities within a global context from the 1980s to 2018. Next, I will determine models for humanities labs based on laboratories’ statements and operations, including the techno-science, workstation, and virtual models. The second part of the lecture aims to examine the lab structure critically and reflect on its potential for the engaged humanities. Referring to social lab theorists, I will seek to answer questions as to how humanities research can be translated into action and how a laboratory drives this process. The analysis will be based on different forms of laboratories seen as sites of interventions: the lab as a challenge-centric space, coalition, and community platform.

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