“Collection and colonization…survival and adaptation”: Postcoloniality as Necessity in Digital Humanities Projects

When Kimberly Christen, Alex Merrill, and Michael Wynne highlight some of the advantages of Mukurtu CMS as used for The Plateau Peoples’ Web Portal as “linking histories of collection and colonization with those of survival and adaptation” in “A Community of Relations: Mukurtu Hubs and Spokes,” I believe they get to the heart of the question of whether calls for postcolonial ethics and accountability in digital humanities (DH) projects may be attained, even with “circulatory” and “dynamic” (Graban) subjects. Namely, that such calls can be attained because they must be attained, because there is a need for them in order to survive and adapt against both the enduring legacies of colonialism and emerging neocolonial practices. The need and the desire to create such an ethics already exists and is actively being deployed as well as critically reflected on.

For example, the digital humanities work that we examine this week as an introduction to the topic of Data Colonialism, though just a small sampling of the possibilities of such achievement, does in fact accomplish much in the way of proving these exigences. The projects also show some of the more general decolonial principles that may guide further efforts of resistance—efforts which the representative work show to be both possible and absolutely necessary, in spite of the (very real) difficulties of working with in-flux subjects and sometimes against a culture steeped in “algorithmic obsession” (Graban) and open access ideals (though not necessarily practice).

Christen, in “Relationships not Records: Digital Heritage and the Ethics of Sharing Indigenous Knowledge Online,” points out that even open access practice is “more complicated, more nuanced, and conditional” than the implied ideals of “unfettered access as the norm and description and sharing without cultural, historical, or political context” (406). These ideals greatly inform general perception of open access and transparency standards in DH undertakings. Since the rise of open access, nonetheless, there has not been universal agreement about what that means or what its practice might subsequently entail.

Because of this seeming contradiction, Christen shows that a disruption of such dominant cultures could orient itself more around bringing to light incongruities that already exist in the system, and pointing out the double standard in not allowing for such a wealth of meaning to exist for other(ed) cultures. In other words, since the culture of open access is clearly not an infallible monolith of practice, even within the culture it pervades out from, why shouldn’t there be systems that openly work to complicate it in the ways that it already complicates itself (in a less self-aware way)? There are no reasons why other cultures of data usage would be any less valid in their contexts—just reasons for their being less prevalent that are often tied to colonialism, particularly in terms of Christen’s work with Indigenous knowledge archiving.

Both Christen’s article and Christen, Merrill, and Wynne’s efforts in extending Mukurtu CMS through Mukurtu Hubs and Spokes act against colonizing influences in DH projects and scholarship. They also also begin to extend some decolonial frameworks or ethical guidelines in progress—tentative answers that they assert based on the work that they have undertaken so far as perhaps useful heuristics, but dynamic as a postcolonial perspective would assert necessary. These frameworks or guidelines in progress include, among other considerations, the steps of ETHICS (Engage, Talk, Help, Invest, Create, Support) (Christen 411) and the “‘Mukurtu Shared’ workflow model” which emphasizes helping to build and maintain trust at all levels and stages of a project and incorporating “cultural and ethical checks” (“A Community of Relations”) to this end.

Moreover, the guidelines undergirding Rapid Response Research (RRR) again speak directly to the need for postcolonial ethics and accountability as a framework for scholarly intervention into “pressing political, social, and cultural crises.” RRR emphasizes the same kind of “agile development model” that in part guides Mukurtu Hubs and Spokes in “A Community of Relations.” Decoloniality comes into play not just in the actual work undertaken, like the Torn Apart/Separados project and its dynamic “critical data & visualization intervention” of the humanitarian crisis arising from the “USA’s 2018 ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’ for asylum seekers” (Torn Apart/Separados). It also comes up in the considerations for creating such an RRR project in the first place.

These considerations emphasize in detail whether there is truly a pressing need for the work proposed and encourage deep self-reflection on the makers’ “best intentions to ensure [they] aren’t hurting, rather than helping” (“Rapid Response Research”). Archival considerations go beyond collection and clinical detachment from context in these projects—to the contrary, they must be informed by context and their aggregation is useful insofar as it is looking to discover and shed light on previously unnoticed or deliberately ignored knowledge (like the widespread economic ramifications of ICE across the US). It is not collection of information that implies that data as “open, reusable, and unhinged” (Christen 405)—the data is hinged on examining the crisis. The same data is even being considered with specific ‘Reflections’ contributed by scholars in the project to try to cut off the potential danger of decontextualization that may then have neocolonizing influences on data.

The postcolonial needs that Mukurtu Hubs and Spokes, Torn Apart/Separados, and Rapid Response Research address prove the myriad possibilities available for developing corresponding ethics and accountability by what they have accomplished so far. These possibilities offer paths forward to address concerns about the ‘staying power’ of such postcolonial efforts (as Christen et al and RRR both highlight): they are here to stay so long as there are people concerned with maintaining them, and they will continue to improve and adapt because those efforts are designed with self-reflexivity and ‘survival’ in mind, though perhaps not always explicitly articulated as such.

Moving forward into our meeting, I want to consider specifically how these different concrete efforts, which have begun to evolve ethical frameworks/guidelines of their practice, may continue to develop these frameworks. I also want to think about how these frameworks may be useful or perhaps also something to survive or adapt against to some degree in future DH projects, in the efforts of creating further frameworks better suited to different cultures and contexts.  

Works Cited

Christen, Kimberly (2018). “Relationships not Records: Digital Heritage and the Ethics of Sharing Indigenous Knowledge Online,” in Routledge Companion to Media Studies and Digital Humanities, edited by Jentery Sayers. Routledge: Taylor and Francis, pp. 403-412.

Christen, Kimberly, Alex Merrill, and Michael Wynne (2017). “A Community of Relations: Mukurtu Hubs and Spokes,”  D-Lib Magazine, vol (23), number 5/6.

 “Rapid Response Research” (from The Nimble Tents Toolkit) <https://nimbletents.github.io/rapidresponse/>

tgraban [Tarez Samra Graban]. “Data Colonialism.” FSU Digital Scholars, WordPress, 13 Feb. 2019, digitalscholars.wordpress.com.

Torn Apart / Separados <http://xpmethod.plaintext.in/torn-apart/volume/1/>


Data Colonialism

Friday, February 22, 12:00-1:30 pm
PIH Digital Humanities Lab (Diffenbaugh 421)

“Data Colonialism”

The timbre of this topic rings deterministically but the idea of colonizing (or de-colonizing) data may echo more familiar quandaries shared by humanities and social science researchers who strive to be ethical in their practice and in their criticism. For scholars in many fields, colonization and decolonization processes are mediated more obviously through language, yet for our second meeting of the semester, Digital Scholars will consider the various ways that colonialism may well be conveyed through data sets and points, whether those occur in structured or unstructured ways, whether they are sought or shared. While decolonizing methodologies often call for ethics of postcolonial hybridity and accountability, we will consider whether these ethics can be reasonably attained when the subjects in question are circulatory and dynamic. Finally, we will ask whether and how a renewed attention to our culture of transparency and algorithmic obsession can help archivists, analysts, and activists avoid both the broader entrapments of “neo-colonialism” writ-large (Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism, 1965) and the specific entrapments of more localized cultural erasure.

Participants are invited to read the following in advance:

and to browse the following projects:

There is no barrier to entry and all are welcome to participate from their preferred disciplinary viewpoints, but participants are encouraged to bring laptops or tablets.

This conversation acts as prelude to two upcoming webinars, both held in the R&D Commons (Strozier Library basement level) or by remote attendance:

  • Data Colonialism with Alex Gil (Columbia U) – Wed. February 27, 3:30-4:45 p.m.
  • Data Colonialism with Larry Madowo (BBC Africa) and Kimberly Christen (Washington State U) – Wed. March 6, 12:00-1:15 p.m.

We hope you can join us at any of these meetings.


“Information Wants to Be Free”: Ideology and Intersectionality with “People in Data”

To begin FSU Digital Scholars’ new theme—People in Data—our group read several articles opening discussions central to the representation of people in our databases, our scholarship, and our methodologies. Throughout our readings, some central themes emerged, including how people’s lived experiences are collected and archived, who does or should do this archiving, and to whom the data should become available when it is aggregated in digital spaces.

Kimberly Christen’s “Does Information Really Want to be Free? Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the Question of Openness” interrogates these issues through the conversation surrounding open access and the “information wants to be free” meme that accompanies these discussions. Christen worked on the Mukurtu CMS multimedia archive and suddenly found herself thrust into the digital rights management (DRM) conversation as news of her archive circulated. The Mukurtu CMS archive, she describes, “is a tool that can be adapted to the local cultural protocols and dynamic intellectual property needs of any indigenous community” and featured the ability “to manage and define access, circulation, and licensing at granular levels” (2873). It was the way in which this archive managed access (i.e., limiting it to outsiders and sorting the data in line with the community’s cultural values) that made it so notorious in the DRM and open access community.

Coming from a background in rhetorical and communication theory, I began thinking of the “information wants to be free” meme Christen identified as a sort of ideograph, or, a “slogan”/“term” that Michael McGee identifies as the “basic structural elements, the building blocks, of ideology. . . . ” that “signify and ‘contain’ a unique ideological commitment; further, they presumptuously suggest that each member of a community will see as a gestalt every complex nuance in them” (7). In conceptualizing the “information wants to be free” meme as an ideograph, it could become a point of ideological inquiry that can guide the ways we think about the practice of digital humanities and archiving, especially as we consider the ways we represent people in data. For example, “information wants to be free,” as a point of ideological criticism, opens up questions such as: Who decides what information is free? Is information free in a global context, or are we to think more locally? What happens when this phrase shifts communities? Does it hold true?

Ideologically critiquing the ways we view information and people, cultures, and customs as data gives us a space to not only consider whether information should be free, but what ideologies are inherent in this argument. In the case of the Mukurtu CMS, I could not shake the connections to imperialistic curiosity and latent ideologies of colonization. For example, since Western cultures have historically entered and mined indigenous cultures for knowledge, capital, labor, land, and more, the argument for this information remaining open has troubling parallels to colonialist patterns. Who needs access to this data? Who is going to use it? What purpose will it serve? How will histories, stories, customs, and more get rewritten, appropriated, or worse should it become easier to find and circulate? What happens to members of this cultural background who are confronted with information they were not meant to see? Further, because the Mukurtu culture is still alive and well, it’s even more troubling for Western cultures to consider their customs moot in the want for more cultural knowledge.

Roopika Risam furthers this conversation by introducing intersectionality to digital humanities work in her article “Beyond the Margins: Intersectionality and the Digital Humanities.” In the case of Christen’s article and the Mukurtu culture, information needed to remain privately archived to preserve customary practice. Risam, however, argues for a method of archival practice that honors intersectional identity, a practice that would highlight identity and cultural difference. Intersectionality, another term we could label as an ideograph, “originates in the work of Kimberlé Crenshaw, a legal scholar who sought a model for understanding the relationship between race, gender, and violence against women of color” (Risam para. 5). In regards to identity, intersectionality considers the ways our identities are multifaceted and linked. The term has since been expanded “to look beyond the race-class-gender triad described by Crenshaw to additional axes of difference including sexuality and ability”; however, Risam argues that intersectionality is a potent frame of reference for digital humanities work, a frame that “resists binary logic, encourages complex analysis, and foregrounds difference” (para. 5).

Intersectionality as both an ideological frame and method in the digital humanities is particularly useful in considering “people in data.” In the case of the Mukurtu CMS, intersectionality foregrounds difference in a way that makes cultural difference not only worth discussing, but integral to this conversation. Intersectionality’s encouragement of complex analysis would also ensure that the reductive DRM conversation that emerged around Christen’s database could (and should) be troubled and expanded upon. Finally, intersectionality’s resistance to binary logic troubles our “information deserves to be free” ideograph, suggesting that information is not simply open or closed, but far more fluid and nuanced.

The topic of “people in data” lends itself nicely to both ideological criticism and intersectional frames. Ascribing too much objectivity to data concerning people’s lived experiences results in reductive conversations around and approaches to these lived experiences, identities, and histories.

As a novice to digital humanities scholarship and work, these frames will act as points of inquiry for me. Moving through the semester, and as I encounter archives, databases, and my own digital practices, ideology and intersectionality—both as the term relates to identity and as a method for the digital humanities—foregrounding difference and resisting binaries will likely be a central aspect of my work. I look forward to exploring this theme with all of you.

Works Cited:

Christen, Kimberly. “Does Information Really Want to Be Free? Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the Question of Openness.” International Journal of Communication, vol. 6, 2012, 2870-2893.

McGee, Michael. “‘The Ideograph’: A Link Between Rhetoric and Ideology.” Quarterly Journal of Speech, vol. 66, 1980, 1-16.

Risam, Roopika. “Beyond the Margins: Intersectionality and the Digital Humanities.” Digital Humanities Quarterly, vol. 9, no. 2, 2015.

“People in Data”: What Can Digital Humanities Do and Look At, And Why?

In our first meeting of the semester, we discussed different readings about “People in Data,” and we ended by examining several DH projects to consider the contexts and implications of their creation and usage, and to generate the kinds of questions we might want to consider in guiding us throughout our discussions this semester. Because I am still grappling with these readings (and suspect I will continue to do so with these and the rest of the readings we will have this semester), I can only think of tentative questions, arising from the tentative connections I’m trying to sketch in building an understanding of these texts.

For me, the questions I pose in the title of this post, though very general, are where I am at in trying to figure the complexities of digital humanities as a field which I am just now being introduced to. What can digital humanities do, as multiple of the readings for our first session went towards addressing? And why are certain areas of inquiry privileged in the field, “risk[ing] replicating the exclusions of a dominant culture that already relegates difference to its margins” (2), as Roopika Risam’s article points out?

In Roopika Risam’s “Beyond the Margins: Intersectionality and the Digital Humanities,” Risam starts to undertake the task of considering what an intersectional approach to digital humanities might consider by looking at “intersectional traces” (12) in various projects. As we discussed the various readings, including Risam’s article, in our first meeting of the semester, I have come to think that maybe the ideas of Risam’s work—of overcoming “a ‘hack’ vs. ‘yack’ binary” (13) and of a digital humanities that “asks us to begin with the specificities of a data set, identify the layers of difference that intersect within it, and use that knowledge as a basis for project design” (13)—help to show some of the more positive possibilities of work that involves people in data.

The positive possibilities I am thinking about are echoed in the considerations of Claire LeMercier’s discussion of formal network methods, albeit tempered by her cautions about usage of “formal network” terminology heedlessly. To LeMercier, “formal network analysis thus allows to detect structures that might not be recognized by all actors involved in them, but whose shape still informs us about underlying social mechanisms” (5). The definition reflects the larger, complex idea LeMercier seems to be grappling with when it comes to the potentiality of formal networks for study in a more historiographical perspective. She calls for more rigor and “systematic, formal treatment of data” (12), but believes that this can be achieved in qualitative studies as well, so long as they give proper “consideration to their sources” (12). She privileges specificity over generality (in trying to define the ties that one may be looking at in considering network methods, to be specific), and abstraction over the desire to achieve a complete and ‘realistic’ perspective of networks through the usage of network methods—she finds the latter pointless. Though Risam’s article does not discuss networks as an overarching theme, it does also in the end call for more rigor of usage in a different context: that of intersectionality.

Risam’s definition of intersectional digital humanities work asks for consideration of difference not as an afterthought, but as a grounding in considering how a digital humanities research project takes shape. The work that she surveys in her article, she acknowledges, deals with “relatively painless ways” (12) of looking for intersectionality in digital humanities projects. ‘Painful ways’ would be encompassed the intersectional approach that she would hold up as the ideal of intersectional digital humanities, which involves the consideration of scholars actively involved in intersectional avenues of digital humanities engagement and work that does ground itself in intersectionality. These painful ways might perhaps include work like that discussed in Kimberly Christen’s and Dr. Graban’s articles.

Kimberly Christen’s discussion of and practical work with indigenous knowledge systems, as described in her article “Does Information Really Want to Be Free? Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the Question of Openness,” seems to embody intersectionality in a way that Risam would wholly support. Her work in creating Mukurtu as a content management system for indigenous communities tries very hard, I think, to address the ‘exclusions of a dominant culture’ (Risam 2) present when Western cultures may think of what digital rights management and flow of information should entail. The details put into the work of Mukurtu are such an obvious reflection of Christen’s larger purpose. From thinking about “a system that could be totally offline” (2881) if the community needed it to be, to considering a “two-click mantra” (2881) of usability, to “educational and community empowerment (train the trainer) components” (2882), everything Christen has considered in making Mukurtu seems to be grounded in considering and respecting difference as a guiding principle of the work undertaken.

Similarly, Dr. Graban’s case study in using metadata as a site for feminist recovery that considers locatability over location seems very in line with the conception of alternate histories that Risam finds so integral to intersectional digital humanities. The Metadata Mapping Project (MDMP) emphasizes locatability, “the fluid relations and circulations of pathways or texts” (174), as a way to recover work that may otherwise go unaccounted for, as in the presented case study of the work of Cecilia Hendricks. The emphasis on locatablity as what undergirds the MDMP, as central to the conception and construction of the work at hand, is something that particularly resonates with Risam’s points, I think.

What can digital humanities address? For one, I think these articles show how it can address reflective concerns within the apparent vast possibilities of its field—as LeMercier considers formal network analysis in an age where the technologies to do so effectively (or ineffectively) are more available than ever before, as Risam deliberates on intersectionality in a work that seems to blend a partial survey with a discussion of what should come next, and as Christen and Graban reflect on a purpose to their work fully evident in their particular practices. And why does digital humanities address what it addresses? I don’t think that’s a question I can even pose a tentative answer to, but I think right now I want to consider whether the inquiry we have begun to be presented with in these readings is customary in the field, a new and promising direction, or more an outlying conversation that needs to brought more to the forefront.

Works Cited

Christen, Kimberly. “Does  Information Really Want to Be Free? Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the Question of Openness.” International Journal of Communication, vol. 6, 2012, 2870-2893.

Graban, Tarez Samra. “From Location(s) to Locatability: Mapping Feminist Recovery and Archival Activity through Metadata.” College English, vol. 76, no. 2, 2013, 171-193.

Lemercier, Claire. “Formal Network Methods in History: Why and How?” in George Fertig, ed., Social Networks, Political Institutions, and Rural Societies (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011).

Risam, Roopika. “Beyond the Margins: Intersectionality and the Digital Humanities.” Digital Humanities Quarterly, vol. 9, no. 2, 2015.

An Introduction to “People in Data”

Friday, January 25, 12:00-1:30 pm
PIH Digital Humanities Lab (Diffenbaugh 421)

An Introduction to “People in Data”

During Spring 2019, our meetings and programming will be centered on the activities of the Demos Center Project at FSU, allowing us to review and explore various instantiations of “People in Data” from rhetoric to textuality to networks to prosopography, and many critical spaces between. The Project fosters and supports scholarship involving structured data around people (the demos) and their environment, with the aim of asking and answering questions about data in society and applying humanistic thinking to data-driven problems.

Thinking more intelligently, more creatively, more critically, and more compassionately about data—its constructions, deconstructions, representations, and misrepresentations—is Demos’s core mission, particularly when those mis/representations involve people and raise timely questions about who has agency or influence over individuals or groups through data points. Thus, for our first meeting of the semester we will consider what constitutes a “data humanities” approach and begin to identify its problems and possibilities across scholarship, in classroom teaching, and in community-oriented presentations. We’ll survey some DH projects and consider one or two cases in data  harvesting (esp. last year’s controversy on Cambridge Analytica’s alleged 2017 election hijacking). As a simultaneously academic and extra-academic field, the data humanities embrace a vital network of methods and materials that bring together data curation, computing, and data science under the aegis of humanistic study.

While the January 25 meeting is primarily for graduate students enrolled in or regularly attending the group, all Digital Scholars participants are welcome to read and join us for conversation on the following:

  • Christen, Kimberly. “Does  Information Really Want to Be Free? Indigenous Knowledge Systems and the Question of Openness.” International Journal of Communication, vol. 6, 2012, 2870-2893. [download PDF here]
  • Graban, Tarez Samra. “From Location(s) to Locatability: Mapping Feminist Recovery and Archival Activity through Metadata.” College English, vol. 76, no. 2, 2013, 171-193. [download PDF here with FSU login]
  • Lemercier, Claire. “Formal Network Methods in History: Why and How?” in George Fertig, ed., Social Networks, Political Institutions, and Rural Societies (Turnhout: Brepols, 2011). [download PDF here]
  • Risam, Roopika. “Beyond the Margins: Intersectionality and the Digital Humanities.” Digital Humanities Quarterly, vol. 9, no. 2, 2015. [available here]

Participants are encouraged to bring laptops or tablets. We hope you can join us.

A Critical Analysis of Digital Humanities as Two Separate Fields

In computer science, there’s not a designated class for a reflection of how computer science concepts are taught. At most, a class is required to talk about the ethics of computer science by following copyright laws and knowing the policies on intellectual property. There is no space to reflect on how programming is taught and to be critical of its traditional methods. On the other hand, humanities has had this framework of critiquing to better understand a work, whether it is literature, history, and anything in between. The next critical level would be to check our own biases in analysis of critiques done in the humanities. The discussion with Dr. So on Friday aimed to critically analyze the parts of digital humanities that make up strictly the digital and strictly the humanities to further the field of digital humanities and expand its impact on society.

By exploring the societal norms within the structure of programming practices and analyzing their effect on society, it will encourage a more critical look into the connections between society and traditional programming methods (McPherson , 2013; O’Neil, 2016). Three key features of programming practices are modularity, binary mindset, and black box theory. Each play an important part in the way programming is taught and relates back to societal norms. Modularity of code allows for a simple swap if a certain part of the code does not work with the rest of the program. McPherson explores parallels in racial segregation at the same time of the development of Unix (McPherson, 2013). A binary mindset refers to the background of programming in the way that computers work with 1s and 0s. This association with 1s and 0s lends itself to society and sorting individuals into good and bad, the best and the worst, with little room in between. An unfortunate programming practice in the digital community is the black box issue. There has always been a barrier between those that code and those that do not by excluding those from the process of coding. O’Neil explores both the binary mindset and the black box issue through the use of “weapons of math destruction”. But through this analysis and through a critical view of these things that are accepted parts of reality, it’s possible to change these parts of reality to shift towards better, more hopeful views of reality.

On the strand of humanities, there is some backlash when exploring topics in digital humanities. When exploring topics of cultural heritage, there is potential for erasure from different cultures, based on those that are working in digital humanities. When it comes to exploring race and gender within texts through a digital analysis, its possible to cross the line of stereotyping for the sake of finding patterns within the text.

From examples of societal norms leaking in to our perception of programming and analysis of humanities, its important to be conscious of the inherent biases that can saturate our day to day. In regards to programming and its effects on digital humanities, a program is only as good as its creator. In regards to digital humanities and societal practices that have become the norm, just because a practice is prevalent may be the poorest reason for continuing it. Being critical of traditional practices, either in technology or humanities, will effect the future of digital humanities as a field, for the better.

Works Consulted:

O’Neil, Cathy. (2016). “Introduction” in Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy. Great Britain: Allen Lane.

Gallon, Kim. (2016). “Making a Case for the Black Digital Humanities.” Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016. Lauren F. Klein and Matthew K. Gold (Eds.).

McPherson, Tara. (2013). “Why Are the Digital Humanities So White? or Thinking the Histories of Race and Computation.Debates in the Digital Humanities 2012. Matthew K. Gold (Ed.).

Race Within Digital Humanities​

The readings that the digital scholar’s group was asked to read in preparation for Dr. Richard Jean So’s visit this week, took on the topic of race within digital humanities. These reading challenged us to consider how race is constructed within data-driven spaces, as well as the role that race plays in computational history.

In “Making a case for Black Digital Humanities” Gallon seeks to “articulate a relationship between the digital humanities and Africana/African American/Black studies…so as to highlight how technology, employed in this underexamined context, can further expose humanity as a racialized social construction”. Gallon notes that discussions about the lineage of black studies within digital humanities are historically absent. In order to begin the work of tracing this lineage, scholars need to engage in “a discussion of the black digital humanities by drawing attention to the “technology of recovery” that undergirds black digital scholarship, showing how it fills the apertures between Black studies and digital humanities”.  Recovery, notes Gallon “rests at the heart of Black studies, as a scholarly tradition that seeks to restore the humanity of black people lost and stolen through systemic global racialization”.  This recovery within digital humanities seen to recover those who have been excluded, or whose histories have been remained hidden. “One of the essential features of the black digital humanities, then, is that it conceptualizes a relationship between blackness and the digital where black people’s humanity is not a given”. Ultimately, Gallon challenges those involved in digital humanities to shift our epistemology in order to generate new questions about the relationship between the racialization of humanity and the digital spaces.

Tara McPherson, in her article “Why are digital Humanities So White Thinking the Histories of Race and Computation” argues that technological systems are inherently constructed for white audiences. Further, she argues“the difficulties we encounter in knitting together our discussions of race (or other modes of difference) with our technological productions within the digital humanities (or in our studies of code) are actually an effect of the very designs of our technological systems, designs that emerged in post–World War II computational culture”. Thus, part of the struggle that we face in trying to make digital spaces more inclusive is the actually coded design that underlies these spaces. McPherson notes that “First, we must better understand the machines and networks that continue to powerfully shape our lives in ways that we are often ill-equipped to deal with as media and humanities scholars. This necessarily involves more than simply studying our screens and the images that dance across them, moving beyond the study of representations and the rhetorics of visuality”. We need to move beyond visualization and on to construction. It is this that will help us to move beyond the boxes we create.