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Postcolonial DH: An Interview with Roopika Risam

Postcolonial DH: An Interview with Roopika Risam

POSTCOLONIAL DH: AN INTERVIEW WITH ROOPIKA RISAM

By: Sylvia Fernández


  Roopika Risam is an Assistant Professor of English and Secondary English Education, Salem State University. Currently, she serves as Assistant Professor of English, Faculty Fellow for Digital Library Initiatives, Coordinator of the Digital Studies Graduate Certificate Program, and Coordinator of the B.A./M.Ed. English Education program at Salem State University. Her research examines intersections between postcolonial, African American, and US ethnic studies, and the role of digital humanities in mediating between them.                                  Roopikarisam.com    @roopikarisam

Sylvia Fernández is a Ph.D. Candidate in Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston. Currently, she is Research Fellow with Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage and a HASTAC Scholar 2017-2019. Her research examines US Latina/o literature with a focus on US-Mexico border, transnational feminism, and digital humanities.  @sferna109

This interview was possible through the Digital Humanities & Social Justice 2018 Speakers Series and Workshops hosted by Recovering the US Hispanic Literary Heritage. 

* Roopika Risam interview can be found on YouTube under the title of, Postcolonial DH: An Interview with Roopika Risam

Video credits to Victoria Moreno, MA Student at the University of Houston.

Interview Transcript

 

SF: How did you come into the field of Digital Humanities?

RR: So it actually started when I was a graduate student at Georgetown I did my Master's there and I was a fellow at the Center for New Designs and Learning and Scholarship and we were working on a number of projects at the intersection on humanities, and technology, and teaching so we worked on a project called My Dante, which was an interactive environment for students reading Dante's Inferno, we were experimenting with teaching literature with wiki's digital storytelling, this is in the mid-2000s, and so I did that and then I went on to do my Ph.D. at Emory and when I was doing my Ph.D. research which was on black radicalism, I started to get frustrated with the ways that I couldn't really capture exactly what I wanted to say on paper because I was trying to speak to multi-dimensional flows of black radical thought throughout the world and it was one of those moments where I thought, hmm, you know would this be work better as a map, we this will be work better as a visual representation and so I was feeling very limited by what I could actually do in a Microsoft Word document and so I ended up applying to be a HASTAC Scholar with the idea of working on a project that tried to map blackness and literature and I integrated that into a class I was teaching on global blackness and so I worked with my students and we created this map of how blackness was articulated in South Africa, in England and the United States and so that's really when I started thinking, huh actually I really enjoy this kind of work and more importantly it's helping me answer particular kinds of questions that I really couldn't answer through the more traditional methods in which I was trained.

SF: Well that's interesting because that's what is happening to my research, how when you interact with platforms you bring new questions and answers to the ground. Okay so, since you started in the field of DH, what have been some of the most rewarding opportunities while working in the field?

RR: So in general, it's actually been around collaboration, I think one of the really exciting parts of doing digital humanities work is you can't do it alone and you absolutely need to be working with other people and with their expertise and sharing expertise, bouncing ideas back and forth towards each other. So a few of the ones that were particularly fun, one was Around DH, which was a project that Alex Gil at Columbia started and in the summer of 2014 for 80 days we published entries on digital humanities projects around the world and it was a fun opportunity to see, what other work was out there and get to know some new people working in the field and also really challenging the ways that people have been defining digital humanities. Another one that’s been great is, I been a member of FemBot, FemBot Collective, I've had the opportunity to work with Radhika Gajjala and Carol Stabile, as editing a special issue of Ada: A Journal of  Gender, New Media, and Technology, for them and also getting to know them and catching other ideas and getting to work with them what has been really exciting and then also collaborations at my own university. So I got there in 2013, I really wanted to think about how we could create undergraduate research opportunities for our students using our archives and using digital humanities and I was very fortunate to get to know our archivist Susan Edwards and so we worked together in a design an undergrad research program and to get a little funding for it, and to then work from there to build a digital humanities project on Salem, Massachusetts, where we're located, that would let our students explore some of the untold stories of Salem, they're the main narratives or the witch trials, Nathaniel Hawthorne, but our archives don't have material on that, our archives are really about ordinary people's lives, about immigration and the 19th century and the early 20th century and so we've had really a lot of fun getting the students into those archives and learning some new skills, as they've developed digital humanities projects, really small projects based on that.

SF:  That's great, and from the other side, what have been some of the challenges, while working in this field, especially considering your identity as a woman of color and your research interest as a postcolonial digital humanist?

RR: So this has changed a lot over the last five years, so at first it wasn't always the greatest experience to be a person whose main intervention often seemed to be you know, there may be some omissions in your way of thinking or your project might be perpetuating particular kinds of biases, that aren't made clear and nobody likes to be told they're not doing things perfectly, and so there was definitely a little bit of a push back against that, you know me I would say maybe about six, seven years ago and it wasn't only towards me it was towards other people who were in my community of people doing this kind of work and then at some point have this is probably about five years ago it transitioned into: please come to be diverse for me, please come and give a talk, please come by on a panel, and please talk about diversity, and you know on the one hand it provided me a lot of opportunities to expand my network and meet people and to develop ideas and really my book came out of doing all those talks, but at the same time it got to a point where I felt like I was being pigeonholed into being a person who's going to come and talk to you about diversity and digital humanities and you know at a certain point I kind of run out of things to say and so I'd say maybe in the last year two, a friend and I made a pact that we were going to stop doing diversity talks and do talks on you know where we wanted our research agendas to go and so now you know people invite me to come somewhere and ask me to do a talk like that, I just say actually here's what I'm working on now and would you be interested and overwhelmingly yeah they're absolutely interested in what's next and not necessarily continuing to do those diversity talks.

SF: Exactly, you're showing what else you have with you. So as a pioneer in the field why is it important and necessary to intersect post-colonial feminism, African-American, and US Ethnic Studies, among others, with the role of digital humanities?

RR: So for me this is really a question of equity and of justice, so you at this moment people who are engaged in digital humanities are creating, sustaining, and maintaining, the digital cultural record and you know in many ways, unfortunately, and this comes out of my training in Post-colonial Studies and African Diaspora Studies, I see the way this is reproducing a lot of the canons that already shape history, literary studies, cultural studies and so to me the ethical imperative is to ensure that there is better representation in that record of perspectives, of histories, of stories coming out of Ethnic Studies, African American Studies, African Diaspora Studies, Post-colonial Studies, but it's also not enough for, it's not enough, let me put it this way, representation is not enough and that's why, I frame it not about being about diversity, but about being about equity and injustice because when these new perspectives, when these new projects are being created they're transforming how we do digital humanities scholarship. You know just right here at Recovery everything that the people are working on is saying you know if we're going to do digital humanities on this material and so for these you know ethical reasons it's going to change how we do it, we're going to need to make decisions about projects, and metadata, and digitization, based on the material that's here and based on the cultural context the many complicated transnational contexts here, so I mean that's really for me the vital question is, you know yes, we need representation but then we also need to be changing how people do the work that they do.

SF: While working in digital humanities projects, what do you consider are the essential values to contemplate? For example as what you mentioned to work in collaboration, to use certain platforms or certain tools that can help and in connection with that, what are the procedures you implement when planning and creating a digital project?

RR: So I would say that the mine I'm mainly guided by minimalism, money, time, and labor are really the three big issues that I'm always thinking about them, particularly because I work at an institution where we don't have a digital humanities center, we don't have a lot of institutional support for the work that we're doing and so we're just used to doing everything, on a shoestring. So as a result, I mean, I always start with research questions, I always start with, you know by under what do I want to know and do I need to use a digital humanities method to know what I what I want to know, sometimes the answer is no, sometimes the answer is yes, if the answer is yes then the next step is to think about what is the most minimal way I can try, and ask, and find some answers, or find some new questions about the starting point and so I always think small, I always use a proof of concept and test out and see you know, do I, is this approach even going to work, is it even going to help me get a little bit further towards what I want to be doing or what I want to know, and I've been, I've talked about this as a form of micro digital humanities that we can work on small scale sometimes and sometimes a small scale is what we need to answer the questions we want to answer and that's been really helpful, for me as you know under the circumstances in which I do this work you know the small-scale doesn't often end up being flashy or impressive but for me really that it's where I getting a new perspective on the research question I started with. It may not be answered it's probably just gonna lead to some new questions but you have I have I moved my thinking forward, through it and that's good and I will also add in some ways I'm more interested in the process than the product and products are good, I'd like to have some products but I'm really interested in through how we do things and why we do things and this has been something I've been thinking about a lot lately, because I'm starting a new project working with Carol Stabile thinking about how can we publish eBook of unpublished intersectional feminist writing that's in archives and it's been this chance to think really intentionally about process and what it means to implement a process you designed around intersectional feminist thinking in a project, so you know one of the questions for us has been in the question of labor, so how do we envision a labor model for doing the actual work that's needed to publish an ebook and how, especially can we do that without deciding that our labor is valued at zero and to me that's I think a really interesting question because so often we think of the fact that that we are undertaking this labor as meaning it doesn't cost anything but of course it costs things it means did that something you know we're not doing, maybe in  our personal lives or in our professional lives that a trade-off and that labor is not zero and so you know thinking about how do we value that labor has been part this project, thinking about how do you design a platform that is specifically useful from the perspective of the user and the perspective of the material for intersectional feminist writing, how do we also think about long term sustainability of a project like this, particularly around the question of you know a financial model, I mean we're really more interested in open access and getting these materials out of the archives and into classrooms but you know, how do we find a balance between making sure that we're not doing this on a zero labor model but also not charging or charging very much, for it, so that's really been I say the first large-scale project that I'm actually committed to and it's really because I believe that you know a lot more work needs to be done on those kinds of processes.

SF: Exactly, I look forward to look at this kind of project where you're integrating different intersectionalities, so in regards to publications what are your approaches to making your work visible and valuable in relation to digital scholarship with the academia parameters?

RR: So the first is I try to publish in open access journals or open access publications as much as possible, just because I want the work to be read, I want it to be able to be easily distributed and so I mean that's a significant priority for me and of course not everything I publish is open access, I'm trying I'd like to move in that direction but that's, it's no surprise that my two best cited articles, one is from well both are from open-access journals, there are from peer review journals but they just happen to also to be open access and I don't think that's coincidence and so that's been one dimension of it and the other is we have an institutional repository for scholarship at my institution and so trying to make sure I get everything in there so it's discoverable and so at least I can send people articles through that if they say request, they request full text of an article that's another dimension and then the other is Twitter, I am completely okay with being a shameless self-promoter on Twitter and with pushing my work out there, and of course with supporting and sharing other people's work too. When I was a graduate student I was asked to speak to a group of incoming graduate students and we're first-year students I think I was probably fourth or fifth year graduate student and I was asked to give them advice and so my advice is get on Twitter and the director of Graduate Studies immediately shut me down and said no don’t waste your time on that and even at the time I knew I think he's wrong about that but if he really has been wrong about that because I would say that I owe the vast majority of my career to Twitter, it's been a way to build a network, it's been a way to build a support system, meet some of my closest academic, friends are actually people I met on Twitter, and you know we read each other's work and support each other's work, and I've gotten invitations for talks, invitations for publications, all because I tweet and so I can't overestimate the influence it had on my professional career.

SF:  Have you had any challenges of publishing certain things of digital humanities, like the issue that sometimes academia still doesn't recognize this labor as something important?

RR: Yes I have this experience both as someone in writing and other someone editing because really the challenge is that particularly when you're doing digital humanities work that intersects with, African Diaspora Studies, Ethnic Studies, areas where the people who have the subject X or content expertise may not be versed in the digital humanities side and where the digital humanities reviewers are not versed in the content side, it's really hard to talk to those two audiences and I mean my book is trying to do that and the whole time I was convinced you know, the reviewers we're gonna say what the hell are you doing, because you know it's really hard to try and talk to and reach two audiences at the same time, audiences that don't really talk to each other and so you know it's really an interesting challenge and so right now it's more as someone who's editing special issues or editing a collection, and you know there just aren't enough people who are doing scholarship that's you know right at those intersections and then you also don't want to be continually putting pressure on them because also sometimes they're your friends, to review everything right, because that takes time and that's uncompensated labor, right so and that's the biggest issue is how do you select reviewers who are gonna push the scholarship in really important ways, forward in both of these domains but then also not they aren't going to be completely turned off by the fact that they from their disciplinary perspective, or their field, or methodological perspective they're not recognizing what you're doing as being a way of doing their disciplines work.

SF: I have seen a lot of that struggle because of sometimes like some of the comments are well you're describing the project but in that description that's when those questions arise, that can become  theoretical questions but you know at some time in some point you have to describe the project from the humanities side, from the digital side in order to remind those intersections and sometimes it's perceive as, well you're promoting the project but it's it's necessary to do it, sometimes those descriptions in order to go further.

RR: I completely sympathize and there's a reason that I published more in digital humanities journals and I have in disciplinary and in my content area backgrounds. I mean I've had a lot of difficulty in trying to publish in some of those journals  and  that's been a struggle, I mean I had a circumstance where actually this was really nice where you know five years ago I had the editor of a journal saying to me this isn't real scholarship and then, now coming and saying, I was wrong and this has happened to me twice and then it's nice to think, okay well I'm glad you came around on that during the other time you know five years ago when I was you know trying to you know establish my research agenda when you were giving me trouble.

SF: So we have to prove it for them to recognize your work. I have seen also how you have visualized a lot of your work through your website like that's where a lot of these can be accessible, mm-hmm and I really like how you distribute your website because you're giving access to all these materials.

RR: I try, it's hard to keep is one more thing to keep up with, right?

SF: And it's more work

RR: It's totally more work

SF: So going into the next question, can you tell us more about your recent monograph titled, New Digital Worlds Postcolonial Digital Humanities in Theory Practices and Pedagogy, that was published in 2018 by Northwestern University Press and going next, what are you working on a forthcoming project can you tell us about it?

RR: Absolutely well I mean in some ways this book New Digital Worlds which comes out on November was a way of trying to work out how do you talk to multiple audiences at the same time, it going back to this problem we were just talking about, which is about what do you do with reviewers when you're getting reviewers from two different subject, with two different kinds of expertise, who don't have the expertise and the other thing you're actually writing about and so in the audience for this book is really wide ranging from post-colonialist to I hope, will get interested in what Post-colonial Studies has to offer how we understand the digital cultural record and also vice versa, how does digital humanities work help us understand what Postcolonial Studies is and does, digital humanities practitioners who might need to think about the ways that they can interrogate the work that they do, and think about the ways that they may or may not be participating in reproducing colonialist knowledge production through digital humanities projects, if graduate students who you know, I hope will want to do this kind of work it's really, it's a range of audiences and so in the book, I look at connections between Post-colonial Studies and digital humanities over different points in time, I talk about the particular kinds of epistemic violence that gets perpetuated through digital humanities projects, its relationship to the influence of colonialism on knowledge production and  that longer history, I talk about how we can actually introduce both small and larger scale digital humanities projects into undergraduate classrooms to get better thinking about what postcolonial approach to digital humanities looks like and also interrogate what are we really talking about when we talk about the global and global digital humanities, so it's trying to do a lot of things, but more importantly it's not meant to be prescriptive, it's not saying here is how you should do this work but it's saying how can we move this conversation forward to really think critically about the work that we are doing.

SF: So when, it's already available?

RR: No, it’s  November 15th

SF: Okay and are you currently working on something else?

RR: Yes so, one of the things I'm currently working on is co-editing an edition of for the Debates in the Digital Humanities Series called the Digital Black Atlantic with Kelly Baker Josephs and what we're trying to do and that brings together a lot of different approaches to digital humanities within the African Diaspora, so you know there's a lot of really important and exciting pockets where digital humanities work is being done so you know there's Caribbean Digital Humanities, there is African American Digital Humanities or Black Digital Humanities, they're digital humanities initiatives being developed in countries, in Africa, like in Nigeria, South Africa, in countries in the Caribbean, in Dominica, Jamaica, in other countries and so you know we're trying to bring these different voices and practices together to sort of shed light on what they are, we're not necessarily putting them in conversation with each other because we have a number of different essays written about people doing this kind of work but the idea is an assemblage of the range of practices of African Diaspora Digital Humanities and specifically also when we do this kind of work these kinds of use digital humanities methods, use digital tools, and do so in the context of material on African descended people how does what we need to do change, you can see a theme.

SF: Yeah,  that's it's so interesting because, as we have been working with the US-Mexico borderlands project, we have seen that there are several other projects that are using digital platforms and how each project is different but at the same time they're intersecting each other bringing up different voices of this region.

RR: Yeah and I think that you know for a really long time it seemed like digital humanities conversations were all about defining what it was and what its limits were, it's nice to not have to start every digital humanities article, or talk, or conversation with defining digital humanities, there was a time really that was like every first part of my talk here is how I'm using it and I just, I mean I think that the we've moved into different conversations mostly, so you know that's been nice to not have to do that gesture, it's kind of like when postcolonial I spend the first you know three pages of their article defining what post colonialism is and exactly how they're you think it's always used to doing that because that's what I was trained in but at the same time it sort of always following okay I'd like to get to the point here and not to do all this throat-clearing but on the other hand you know those definitions are still really recalcitrant, when it comes peer-review and so you know in some ways there is still that challenge to make what you're doing legible to whatever scholarly community you're talking to or the audience of the journal you know it's still thinking you keep thinking about how do you fashion what you're doing in language that they're going to understand, it doesn't mean you necessarily gonna change what you're doing it might mean changing the presentation of what you're doing to try it and make it legible is probably good word, make it legible to the people are gonna to be reading it something that they understand.

SF: Especially like in conferences also if it's a humanities conference it's more approach to that side and like you can, that's what we have seen like our project has been able to be presented in different fields but at the same time you have to modify how do we be presenting in order for the audience to look at the importance.

RR: Mm-hmm that's the nice thing about being trained in the humanities as we think about audience, we think about genre, we think about purpose, and everything we write and everything we do and you know this is a slight tweak on that because we're also talking about being able to talk to multiple communities, which involves a mastery of multiple kinds of knowledge, but at the same time we have the skills to do it so that's a nice part. And then the other I did start working on a new book which it's for about five months now and so it's not that fun point where it's about everything but if I had to boil it down it's really looking at the question of what does it mean to be a scholar of color in the humanities in the 21st century, thinking about a number of perspectives like how do we do research and what kind, how did the knowledge infrastructure is available to us like scholarly databases you know, support what we're what we're researching but then also influence the outcomes of our scholarship in particular ways so I have a chapter I've been working on W.E.B. Du Bois work and looking at citational practices and for his novels that nobody reads, and so how are those, how are those databases have promoting unintentionally promoting and then obscuring particular narratives about Du Bois’ work, I'm looking also at, what does it mean to be a public intellectual at this particular moment in time, and you know the what's the value, what's the danger, how are we, how do we think about how we're disseminating our research particularly in the realm of scholarly communication, and really sort of again as they're saying you know, what does it mean to be a scholar of color in the humanities and how do we locate that in a broader intellectual tradition that includes people like Du Bois, whom I mentioned, Claudia Jones, Sylvia Wynter,  and you know again particularly this moment of turmoil in higher education, I'm really excited about this there's your act you know it read it in some ways it's building on some of the work I did in New Digital Worlds, at the same time it's kind of a completely different direction because it's really focused on in the individual scholar and less on what's happening in the field.

SF: But I think it's necessary because sometimes those key points are invisibilized and they have to be highlighted in order for because as time is passing more people of color is getting involved in this field, especially because that's how they can visualize or create spaces of their research.

RR: Last week or the week before I tweeted something about how every book that I was ever assigned to read in graduate school that was about how to be a scholar was written by a white man in an elite institution and almost all the advice in there was completely wrong for me and you know, I look at the really exciting work that people are doing, and then you know it makes me think you know is there a way that we can link it to a broader intellectual tradition and specifically you in the context of an African Diaspora tradition as well because sometimes it's nice to sort of see what are the lessons we can learn from the people ordering this work before us.

SF:  Yes, and according to what you mentioned during the Colonial and Postcolonial Digital Humanities Roundtable on October 27 of 2017 and I quote, “The digital cultural record has large reported over the hallmarks of colonialism from the cultural record and thinkingly without malice in part because postcolonial critique has not made many inroads in the practices of digital humanities scholarship,” and with this in mind, where do you envision digital humanities to be in five years and where do you think it will be?

RR: hmm well so it depends I mean they're really the answer to your question depends on a day, it's a good day or it’s a bad day, I'm not sure what today's, but you know I think what digital humanities is going to be, is it's really in the hands of the graduate students and you know it's in the hands of scholars like you who are doing such exciting and creative work and you know part of the reason that a lot of what I've done is focused on what we might call the meta dimensions of digital humanities is because you know I want us to be continually evaluating and re-evaluating how we do the work we do, how we choose the tools we choose, how we make very clear what is included, and what isn't included, and why in the digital scholarship that we produce, and to me that would be a major step forward and I think it's practically achievable in the next five years. We're already seeing that starting to happen and that's been very exciting in that roundtable that you referenced, I talked a little bit about the work that Megan Ward and Adrian Wisnicki have done on Livingston Online and you know how they've done this really interesting job of recognizing that they're working on a figure, David Livingston, who you know has this history you know that is deeply linked to colonialism but at the same time they don't let that go unremarked and there's a lot of really interesting framing in their project around that and so I mean those are the steps forward that people you don't really need to be making and if we could be doing that with our scholarship way better off.

SF:  I really admire your work and because it has expanded my knowledge in the field of digital humanities and has given me the tools to intersect praxis with theory within my research interest so what are your advice for scholar-activists who are using the advantages of technology to create spaces that visualize communities or topics that have been on the margins because they're not part of the canon? I mean I think it's really related to what you just mentioned.

RR: Absolutely, I mean I'm now I'm going to go back to collaboration, you know one of the biggest time wasters is if we reinvent the wheel, metaphorically speaking, if we try and create something new for the sake of creating something new, like a platform for example that already exists might suffice that goes back to my point also about minimalism you know, we're talking particularly with you know scholar activists and particularly, in whether it's in Latinx Studies, in African Diaspora Studies, Feminist Studies, we're talking about people who have a lot of burdens on their time, right they have the burden to do at least double if not more work to prove, their worth and value, they're asked to do a lot of more service work particularly, around advising students, serving on diversity committees, you know being the person sitting at the table, so there is a brown person in the room, often under hostile circumstances, where you know you're fine to be the brown person in the room, just make sure you don't say anything too challenging if they're scholars and activists you know those are too time-consuming tasks, almost to having definitely two full time jobs, so you know trying to, feeling the pressure to also create something brand new from the ground up, you know can be a lot and maybe in some respects and for some people asking too much, because ultimately every…..  at some point and so you know finding the people you can work with, thinking about how you can build on existing projects and reach out to and collaborate with people who are already doing projects that may be sort of in the ballpark of what you're in that you know maybe there's a collaboration there also I would say well that aside, I mean I would also say that you know sometimes the tools we have aren't sufficient, sometimes the methods we have for the materials that we're working with aren't good enough and so there are times where you know, we will have to create something new and in that  regard again, I mean collaboration and finding people to work with and who support the work and you know who bring particular kinds of expertise that you may not yourself have is really really important, it's not sustainable for one person to do it all of that

SF: Yeah but it's necessary.

RR: It's necessary for it it would be nice also if it wasn't the responsibility of just people of color you know if and that goes back to your last question which is, where will digital humanities, where should digital humanities be in five years, if everybody starts doing their job, on this end a. will make a lot a lot better for us and b. it won't always be our problem.

SF: Yeah but do you find like I know that collaboration it's great but sometimes academia, especially in the humanities it's problematic the system is not designed for academics to work in collaboration, how do you have been dealing with those kinds of structures that are, that gives you the opportunity to create projects but when it comes to, when there is a hiring  position is only for one person and that's how or the recognition of how to recognize all the labor?

RR: That is an absolutely good and important question, I mean I think that we have to take it apart though right, so there are several pieces of it, I mean one is you know if you say a professor and you're a tenure track professor, and you're doing digital humanities scholarship, it's in collaboration, the structures of tenure promotion or your instructors are hiring to get into that job or maybe looking a little a sconce at the fact that you have digital projects or these projects were done in collaboration with people, and also do you also have enough scholarship of the you know articles and books, kind I mean that's what they're looking at, and so that's one set of problems. What I've found is that you know, you have to look for the guidelines that different professional organizations have put together on how to evaluate digital scholarship, look to the advice of people who have managed to get tenure and get hired doing this kind of work and then also recognize to some extent, you'll be doing twice as much work, we will be doing double work because you know in many cases most people aren't going to say yeah you're digital humanities project and you got a $40,000 grant that's great, that's not good enough, they're also gonna say where's your book or where are your 10 articles, how are you measuring the impact of your digital humanities project right, so that's in that kind of role that's one kind of problem and this is not at all to speak for librarians, but what I've observed from collaborating very closely with a librarian is that there are a different set of pressures based on the fact that she is a librarian there's the fact that you know she can't really get release time, she can't get a course release to do this work because she's not teaching courses in the in the way that you know, you could release a professor from teaching a course, so that's an either/or something means something else she has to give up out of her job to undertake digital humanities work or what really happens it's something she does on top of her job so it's just more work right, and so I mean that's been really eye-opening for me working in collaboration with her because you know it's really I've sort of seen firsthand okay, how our jobs are very different in there are ways that my job as a tenure track professor does give me certain latitude, that you know hers is librarian doesn't because of the way our jobs are structured at the same institution and governed by the same union contract has been it's really been really interesting and then you know people and I'm not having closely collaborated people in other kinds of jobs, I don't I can't really speak to that, but means certainly people in all deck positions and other kinds of staff positions as well you know they'll have their their own pressures too you know, for us one of the ideas we've been talking about at our institution in Salem State with our collaborations is creating project charters, so I learned about this from Laurie Taylor at University of Florida where she does a lot of work of digital humanities and she's one of the people behind Digital Library of the Caribbean and you know the project charter sort of lays out from the beginning who's involved, what are the responsibilities of everybody involved, who can speak about the project under what circumstances, and you know how is the you credit distributed, and you know I mean, I think in large part in though in the collaborative model we have at Salem State, which also now includes Justin Snow our digital initiatives librarian we work really well together and so we haven't really had issues around labor but where we've had issues is when we started collaborating with other faculty members, the university who don't share the same values that we do and the same understanding of the particularity and the limitations of each of our jobs and how are the jobs are paid gigs, the jobs were actually being paid to do relates or doesn't relate to the digital humanities projects we are working on and so that's where you know that the charters have been more useful is setting out expectations in it in advance. The other thing to think about is you know give different kinds of job roles that can all be part of a collaboration, what one person needs for their career advancement is not necessarily the same thing that someone else needs so and I mean this is just a hypothetical right, I might need to be able to say, I give a talk and write a paper and so we I might give a talk or we might give a talk and we might write a paper, I might write a paper and you know usually we end up allocating authorship, in order of who contributed the most to the paper right for example, but and I tend to actually do most so they'll work on that and I tend to end up being the first author but partially we're doing that because I need that for tenure, they might they need other things like they're asked to demonstrate you know that they've done their job through different things, it may be through you know, how much of our collection got digitized and amid the metadata got created for it, so some more of that work might be done you know by the two librarians because they're claiming the credit for that in their evaluation procedures, but really I mean it really comes down to having the expectations laid out and clear on time so everybody feels like you know their voices are heard, they're labor is value and that always not taking advantage of them

SF: Great and to conclude, what are some of the projects that work with women of color and feminism? Do you think there is a still a lack of representation in projects of this kind and what is the role women of color have in DH?

RR: That is another excellent question, I mean there's never enough right, I mean it is never enough, you know I think there's two ways to approach this, I mean one is that there are a number of great projects, one of my favorites is Chicana por mi Raza, I think you had Maria Cotera here, I mean that's one of my absolute favorite projects because of like the really important work it's doing on, you're shedding light on the history, and the stories, and the voices of Chicana activism, and you know but for every you know every project like that there's still so much more that needs to be done. But I mean again this goes back, I am saying again a lot, but this goes back to saying that this shouldn't only be our problem, one of the things that I've seen happening that's been really interesting is projects on women that have existed for a very long time for decades are actually starting to ask how do we make sure that you know we're doing a better job of represent representing the category of women in the time there were writing because there been a lot of these these projects you know, when they were created you know, they could have been called the White Woman's Writers Project, or you know White Women Writers, right but when I look at projects like the Orlando Project, it's a Canadian project, they're doing really interesting work with their metadata, and they're tagging schema, to kind of make the intersectional dimensions of some of the people in their project legible and to think about how they're also making sure that there are, that they're consciously you know finding the women of color’s writing in the time period they covered, and making sure that they're there and then you know and thinking about how they're there, and how they're represented, as well, and Women Writers Project too, you know we see the work they're doing and they're also you know taking a critical look at what they're doing and you know and thinking about representation and so you know in addition to to the new work you know, we need more of that of that reflexive you know critical eye being cast back on existing work to find out where did we accidentally construct the category of women as white women, while calling it women, and how do we make sure we undo some of the damage done by that.

SF: I don't know if you have any anything else to add on, but what is the role of women of color have in digital humanities?

RR: In what regard?

SF: I don't know, like if it's important to have more women of color because it's necessary cause they will bring up other kinds of knowledge, other concepts, so what do you think, why are women of color necessary in this field?

RR: Yeah, I mean it’s exactly what you're saying right, it's about the perspectives that come out of the experiences of these scholars, it's often that these scholars, women of color are often the ones studying women of color, and thus have you know the expertise, they are the ones with the expertise to create you know digital humanities projects that represent and you know share the stories of women of color in inequitable ways. I mean that would be the main reason they're important and we're important and then the other would be that you know the perspective we bring on how we do scholarship right, the ways we were trained from our mentors and from our disciplines and our fields you know, that needs to be brought to bear on the practices of creating digital humanities, if we really do want to say that you know, we're working towards justice and equity and the digital cultural record.

SF: Would you like to add anything else?

RR: No!

 

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