Week 2: Question 3: Overspecialization
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  • @roopikarisam funny you should ask that because finding out about the #dhpoco comic strip, all I could think about was how this initiative would help revive postcolonial studies, an area of specialization which I love and in which I am trained, but which my grad students had come to view as somehow "done." Your question made me reflect on McPherson's observation that most American Studies scholars are either deeply suspicious of DH or are ambivalent about its potential to enhance the kind of cultural and political critique they already do. I would add poco scholars to that mix and for similar reasons: they are equally suspicious about how DH might duplicate rather than challenge historical power imbalances, continue exploitation of labor and intellectual property, and/or perpetuate silence through intimidation (I guess because of the seemingly high barrier to entry). Like @ReadyWriting, I think creolisation and negritude are apt concepts to import into this discussion because both are useful strategies for functioning within a network of uneven distribution of knowledge--whether we forge alliances based on shared identities as members of this or the other academic sub specialty (academia standing in for the African motherland in this example), or else novices, pedagogues, and hackers all try to learn for one another as we stake our individual claims on the DH territory, the point is that the undertaking you and @adelinekoh began with this summer school is open, communal and transparent, so it can't really be accused of being too narrow.
  • This is a great discussion, and makes me think of another way that DH can reinscribe institutional modularities. Until very recently, DH was largely considered the domain of the R1 university since the projects were so large and so resource-intensive. But as many of us in this group demonstrate, DH is happening at all sizes and types of schools. In fact, I'd argue that SLACs offer an important antidote to the overspecialization question. I cannot be overspecialized in my teaching, since my department is so small. In addition, my school requires that students take interdisciplinary team taught courses, which means that I regularly co-teach with colleagues in various disciplines, from psychology to art to math. Now I realize that the small size and resource poverty of my institution promote work across disciplines in ways I'd never experience at large universities where I wouldn't even know colleagues in other departments or divisions.
  • Profren, funny you should mention this--I just posted an open thread on Profhacker today on what DH outside the research university should look like. http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/open-thread-dh-outside-of-the-research-university/50919
  • Hah! Fantastic post on Profhacker, @adelinekoh. Thanks for initiating this--and so many--good conversations. I'll definitely be signing your Google doc.

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