Infrastructure as the Origin of Inequities

I have recently participated in the Global Digital Humanities Symposium organised by Michigan State University, US. You can find the abstract for my talk “Infrastructure as the Origin of Inequities: A Case of Global Digital Humanities” below and slides presentation on my research blog More details can be found on the MSU Global DH website here.

Infrastructure as the Origin of Inequities: A Case of Global Digital Humanities

The COVID-19 pandemic has been an exceptional time that forced society to shift everyday life to online spaces and create provisional forms of doing and acting. It has prompted a narrative of a compressed and connected world in a Zoom meeting. The pandemic outbreak, however, has also disclosed long-standing and deep structural inequities that run along demographic, geopolitical, and infrastructure fault lines. I argue that this is a good time to reconsider some of the pressing questions: How do the power dynamics of actors of knowledge production (e.g., information infrastructures, digital libraries, and publishers) define and materialize the contours of global science and humanities? Where are we now in our efforts to improve a networked global science and education based on values of equal access to resources, inclusive participation, and the diversity of epistemologies?

In this presentation, I aim to reflect on global dimensions of knowledge infrastructure to understand the specification and realization of global digital humanities – the branch of digital humanities (DH) focused on the global development of the field and representation of the DH community. I propose to look at the social side of the aspects of infrastructure – connection, standardization, and access – to comprehend the global configuration of DH. Along with the expansion across the world, DH communities face issues of unequal participation and opportunities in developing the field. I aim to show that discrepancies in the global development of DH lie at the root of existing infrastructure inequalities. Drawing on the field of science and technology studies, I argue that in order to overcome these imbalances, the community can seek to practice “infrastructuring” global DH; this means to build an inclusive network of unique nodes of local communities on the top of the geopolitical system of knowledge infrastructure.

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