Centre for Internet & Society

Puthiya Purayil Sneha attended and presented at a conference on 'The Arts, Knowledge, and Critique in the Digital Age in India: Addressing Challenges in the Digital Humanities' organised by Sahapedia and Department of Liberal Arts, Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad on November 28-29, 2019.


Conference: Website (external)

Digital humanities and new contexts of digital archival practice in India

This is the abstract of Sneha's presentation on digital humanities in India and transitions in digitization and cultural archival practices in the postcolonial context. The presentation was part of a session titled 'Community and Knowledge.'

The last few decades have seen several large-scale efforts in digitalization across various sectors in India. In space of Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (GLAM) in particular, there have been several initiatives undertaken by state institutions, along with individual and collaborative efforts to digitize and make cultural heritage and educational content available online. The growth of new areas of research and creative practice like digital humanities has also brought to the fore the need for digital corpora, including new technologies and methods of research as ways to engage with cultural content through the development of digital pedagogies and creative practice.

Many of these questions are located in long-spanning efforts in digitization and digital literacy more broadly, which are still fraught with challenges of access, usage and context. While digitization and archival practice form a significant aspect of the discourse on digital humanities, there still exist a number of anxieties around its practice. Especially in the case of community-led efforts, such as archiving oral histories or GLAM initiatives with collaborative knowledge platforms like Wikimedia, challenges of the digital divide are persistent, reflecting also a larger politics around the growth and sustenance of cultural heritage projects and the humanities and arts more broadly.  Drawing upon excerpts from work on mapping the field of DH in India, and ongoing conversations on the digital transition in cultural archives, this presentation seeks to understand the practices and politics of digitization and archival work today, and how it continues to inform the growth of fields like digital humanities in India.


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