In our class discussions, we have tackled the perceptions of Digital Humanities as a predominantly white, male, form of scholarship that lacks a critical lens. However, I strongly disagree with this statement, and believe that the digital humanities projects that myself and my peers are working on do the opposite: they promote understanding of history, of stratification, ability, refugee migration, race, sexuality, and in my case of stereotyping and negative impacts of excluding policies based on culture and ethnicity. Our projects strive to be intersectional, and that was one of the values that we came up with as a team during the very first day that we all came together to embark on this journey of exploration, research, and discovery. What does it mean to be intersectional? Before I started college, I didn’t fully grasp the meaning of this word. In fact, the dictionary on my computer still insists that the word doesn’t exist, and highlights it red every time I write it in my class notes or in a paper. To be intersectional means to understand how multiple factors can influence an outcome, and how things are connected. Race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc, do not operate as singular entities. Rather, they affect and influence one another, and can and should be associated to understand how they are all related and impactful. Over the course of this research internship, I strive for my research to not have one singular facet, I hope that I can stay honest to my work and stay objective. I am not Sami myself, and most research papers I have read on Sami are not written by Sami scholars, but rather, they are written by people who wish to learn more, who wish to understand, and who strive to teach and convey powerful and humanizing messages. I too hope that with my research I can help others understand the impact of government interference on indigenous groups, specifically how categorization and regrouping form images of Sami that do not convey the various parts of Sami culture. Not every Sami is a reindeer herder, and they are not all nomadic–assuming that they are, and for example, relocating them thinking it isn’t a problem since they move around anyway, not only influences their abilities to interact with their own traditional lifestyles, but the way that Sami children living surrounded by other Swedish children are perceived by their peers. It is important to understand that cultures evolve, that they are not static, and that not everyone in a culture that isn’t one’s own is the same, or lives the same life.
In “Pedagogies of Race: Digital Humanities in the Age of Ferguson,” by Amy E. Earhart and Toniesha L. Taylor, the authors ask what digital humanities would be like if they focused on social issues and were “transformatively critical.” I interpreted the latter term to mean being critical of research done through analysis, but also in a way that is transformative, or changing the way we look at social issues and information, with a goal of changing perspectives and asking more questions. Earhart and Taylor describe a digital project through Texas A&M University and Prairie View A&M University, both state universities in Texas, Texas A&M being predominantly white, while Prairie View A&M is a Historically Black University (HBCU). Their project of digitizing racial conflict titled White Violence, Black Resistance is relevant today, and compares with racial violence against African Americans today such as in Ferguson, MO. Their work, while historical in nature, has contemporary applications. In addition, Earhart and Taylor describe how the media is a strong source used to share experiences, and digital humanities broadens that field of expression and sharing. Having access to digital humanities in the classroom later has real world applications, and helps people analyze current events and form understanding of their roots and comparisons between the modern age and the past. Ultimately, this project partners two universities with contrasting racial populations. Having them work together expands their resource bases, especially considering that Prairie View does not have the same funding for library space and archives that Texas does. Their project builds bridges, shares multiple perspectives, and looks at history by revealing information on black resistance and white violence, rather than concealing it.
When I think of digital humanities, I think of collaboration and opening up discussion and eliminating barriers. I think that digital humanities have a strong impact on scholarship, and have a lot of power to induce change, so I am with the movement that Roopika Rasam describes in “Beyond the Margins: Intersectionality and the Digital Humanities,” it is time to #transformDH. She explains the assumption that digital humanities do not think, they just do. But if we are careful with our defining and the data we choose, if we understand who we are leaving out, who we are marginalizing, we can be more intersectional and true to the data we are using and the projects we are creating. In my project I detail the ways that the Swedish government has defined Sami and therefore marginalized those that do not fit the description. When we do research as digital humanists, we have to be careful not to do the same. I know that my project is from an outsider’s perspective, but being an outsider isn’t always a bad thing, it must just be recognized for what it is. My goal is to include many realities in my project–realities of reindeer herding Sami, Sami youth going to Swedish schools, Sami youth going to Sami schools, Sami that herd part time, and Sami who do not herd at all. Will I be able to include everyone in the narrative? Unfortunately, it is likely that I will miss part of it, but the amazing thing that I see happen through collaboration is the ability to discuss and learn more over time and from one another. I recognize that my project isn’t going to be perfect–no research is, it is a process–but I plan for it to be a step forward in the communication of acceptance and understanding.