Race, Computation, and the Analysis of Culture

Friday, April 13, 12:00-1:15 pm
Innovation Hub Program Room (Shores, first floor – map)

Race, Computation, and the Analysis of Culture

For many humanists working in or across data-driven spaces, the understanding that “race” is a simultaneous implication in the history of computation and impetus for the further development of “big data” projects and mechanisms raises daunting questions about the ethics of their research. Indeed, humanists’ commitment to patterned (distant) reading methods stems from their critical and historiographic desires to diversify “condition[s] of knowledge” (Moretti, Distant Reading, 2013). At the same time, such methods may texturize certain historical facts at the expense of other cultural canons, or in ways that further encode racial bias (McPherson, 2013; Gallon, 2016).

This need not be the case. For our final session of the academic year, Digital Scholars hopes to work through this dilemma in videoconference with Dr. Richard  Jean So, Assistant Professor of English and Cultural Analytics at McGill University, and current Faculty Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Humanities Center.  Author of Transpacific Community: America, China, and the Rise and Fall of a Cultural Network, and incoming Director of the McGill .TxTLab, Dr. So pursues scholarship that fulfills dual aims: seeking positive versions of DH methods that can be applied to questions of race/racial difference, while also furthering critiques of algorithmic reliances in the humanities that perpetuate colonizing orientations toward culture.

All are welcome at this culminating discussion, where there is no barrier to entry — ethnically, disciplinarily, methodologically, or otherwise. Participants are invited to read the following in advance:

We hope you can join us.
-TSG

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