Roopika Risam (Salem State University) has shared the text of her portion of a Colonial and Postcolonial Digital Humanities Roundtable at the College of William and Mary’s Race, Memory, and the Digital Humanities Conference (#RMDHatWM).
Risam’s contribution discusses attempts to “redress the inequalities in the digital cultural record,” advocating for a multifaceted approach that includes both recovery projects as well as epistemological interventions:
The reification of the canon in digital form is a function of not only what’s there – what gets digitized and thus represented in the digital cultural record – but also how it’s there – how those who have created these projects have presented their subjects. Namely, are they presenting them in ways that rehearse colonialist knowledge production? Or are they recognizing the role of colonialism in actively constructing the digital cultural record and, quite directly, seeking to push back against it?
Risam also comments on the dual challenge of rejecting colonial constructions while working within the fraught contemporary landscape of the digital:
[T]he digital cultural record not only must contend with the colonial hangovers from the cultural record but also the forces that are actively constructing its medium as a hostile environment where universities and the academy are under threat, right along with the knowledge we are producing and making available publicly.
The conference was livestreamed, and several of the recordings are now available.