New Contexts and Sites of Humanities Practice in the Digital
The last couple of decades have seen an increasing prevalence of digital technologies and internet in the study and practice of arts and humanities. With the growth of fields like humanities computing, digital humanities (henceforth DH) and cultural analytics, there has been a renewed interest in the increasing role of the ‘digital’ in interdisciplinary forms of research and knowledge production. DH in particular has become a field of much interest and debate in different parts of the world, including in India. Globally, in the last two decades, there have been several efforts to organize the discourse around this field which seeks to explore various intersections between humanities and digital methods, spaces and tools1. But DH also continues to remain a bone of contention, with several perspectives on what exactly constitutes its methodology and scope, and most importantly its epistemological stake. A specific criticism has been the Anglo-American framing of DH, located within a larger neoliberal imagination of the university and the higher education system at large. As a result, the connection of these two threads—a history of DH located in humanities computing and textual studies and its contextualization within the American university—is often represented as the history of DH. This has been met with resistance from several scholars and practitioners across the world calling for more global perspectives on the field. Drawing upon excerpts from a recently completed study on mapping the field of DH and related practices in India, this essay will attempt to outline the diverse contexts of humanities practice emerging with the digital turn, along with a reading of some of the global debates around DH to understand the discourse around the field in the Indian context.