In Late February, David Theo Goldberg, co-founder of HASTAC and Director of the University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI), came to Northwestern University to give two talks in conjunction with his research interests; one, on the theme of Mimetics for a workshop series on post-raciality and the other on, Networking Knowledge. While on different subjects, Goldbergs discussions sponsored by the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities reflected the interdisciplinary spirit many of us have discovered and nurtured in our research interests and discussions with one another. I spoke with Goldberg during his visit and wrote down his thoughts on HASTAC, his work, his vision for young scholars, current and future.
Why HASTAC? Why specifically a graduate student forum?
It was Cathy Davidson's suggestion, for which she should get full credit. When you think about sustainability, youve got to think about the next generation investment in commitment to training. The sense is not to impose or direct, but to facilitatein a platform through which students can organize themselvesto connect across institutional boundaries.
What role do you see HASTAC playing in addressing some of the challenges in digital humanities? (These challenges were mentioned at his Networking Knowledge, talk.)
HASTAC is a shift from education to learning, a shift from the hierarchical to participatory learning. It enables collective engagement with each other. Some of it is process learning through implicit lessons. We [the HASTAC board] dont oversee. No one teaches you in the classroom; its like learning on the job. It de-hierarchicalizes by using social media to promote and enable an expanded sense of literacies.
How do you see your work as an administrator (HASTAC, university, etc.) combine with your research on race and politics?
There are different ways of being an administrator. Doing it simply for the power or because one thinks theyre good at keeping bureaucratic lines straight none of that interests me. For me, it is to garner the resources to do innovative work with my colleaguesto create possibilities, the best of which can be sustained.
I have no interest in pushing paper. Its about facilitating the engagement of interesting ideas wherever they may come from and having that impact ones own thinking in the world. My own intellectual interests race/racism, critical theory, digital [technology] none of those are discreet [entities] anymore.
What is your ultimate goal with HASTAC? What is it supposed to do, be, inspire, when everything is said and done?
[It is] a social media platform for digital humanities. I think it will continue to have a role and be successful even as it shifts or interests shift. In a sense, HASTAC is the aggregation of the activities of its members. Its a platform that enables the bringing of the light of day of various activities and if enabling interaction, engagement among its members, between its members.