Blog Post

my first steps into HASTAC commons

Wonderful to find myself in HASTAC commons with amazing conversations all around on digital humanities and beyond.

A few years back having read Kim Fortun's Advocacy After Bhopal, I became interested in activism around the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, particularly the work of International Coalition for Justice in Bhopal and Students for Bhopal. Finding myself in a Communication Studies program and then in a Film and Media Studies department, I was drawn then to write on alternative media and New Social Movements. While initially I was more interested in the rhetoric of media texts to be found on the websites, quite recently, i have been trying to conceptualize the many versions of this website as an archive of protest. This also intersects with my work on reconceptualizing within particular contexts, survivor memories  not always as "trauma" but  as "struggle" also. 

Lisa Gitelman's question: " Who knows from where this or that digital content comes from?" posed in Always Already New: Media, History and Data of Culture influenced me to think about the recent history of databases and what I found interesting to track was how over the years did this idea that databases just have to create an interface between users and data started being taken for granted. This of course also offered the pleasures of reading old computer magazines, especially BYTE: The Small Computer Journal. An abstract of my paper Interfacing Data Destinations and Visualizations: A History of Database Literacy  presented as part of International Communication Association's (ICA) 2011 Virtual Conference can be found here.  

My dissertation topic involves examining media's role within public debates (and controversies) around science and technology. I have been deeply moved by the work of Michel Callon in thinking of ways in which socio-technical controversies could be thought to be productive (and not a waste of time) in helping different communities  and organizations (scientists, victims, activists, entrepreneurs, government bodies) to be able to account for radical uncertainties in their search for common worlds through hybrid forums and collaborative research. 


















Hi Rahul,

Your works looks very interesting! I'm someone brand new to the field (I come from an art history/museum studies background, and have only recently started thinking about the possibilities of new media technologies to reinvent what a museum can be) and am excited to look into the links you posted -- Gitelman's book, in particular. Last week, I went to a lecture by Alan Liu about RoSe project ( Are you involved with this? I was really swayed by the conception of building a database in terms of "knowledge-relationships," and would love to learn more about the particularities of the project, as well as look into how it can possibly be applied to museum work.

Also, have you checked out Tahrir Documents?



Hi Anya,

Apologies for the late reply. I was having my candidacy exams but now am done with them. Many Thanks for your interest and kind encouragement. I am not a part of Transcriptions, but like you have attended amazing and inspiring presentations from Professor Liu. I especially like the Visualization Concept  section of the RoSe project - there is an interesting way in which relations are "mapped", time is perceived (accounted for) and the idea of networks in and across databases is fascinatingly established.  Professor Liu's work is amazing - the chapter "Escaping History: New Historicism, Databases, and Contingency" from his book Local transcendence: essays on postmodern historicism and the database was especially useful for me in communicating database concepts in a lucid manner. The idea of building a database of  knowledge-relationships might indeed be very interesting and quite critical for museum work I think. Given my lack of background in museum studies, I cannot think beyond a point, but what comes to my mind is the continuing contemporary practice of databasing locally embodied knowledge which I think is taken up both by museum studies scholars and those from the discipline of information studies. There is some discussion of this in relation to Wikipedia. Could you share with me what are you particularly looking at? Given your background in Art History/ Museum Studies, I think you will appreciate (and may already know of) the work of Shannon Mattern whose papers engage with the connected areas of archiving practices of libraries and museums, their spatial layout, design and architecture, and their relation to databases and data visualization - a few months back I heard her give a talk and liked it a lot. The syllabus of her very interesting course can be found here:

Her Flow article can be found here:

Thanks for the Tahrir documents -- a very intriguing way of archiving, always keeping the sense of materiality of paper very intact, i think, right?

-- rahul


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