This space is the repository for the papers, presentations (slides, videos, etc) that will form the basis of the CSDH-SCHN 2021 online conference, to take place May 30-June 3rd.

Pedagogy of the Digitally Oppressed: Anti-Colonial DH Pedagogy as Care Work

As scholars of colour with contingent access to and precarious movements within privileged academic spaces, we began the Pedagogy of the Digitally Oppressed collective because we were witnessing and experiencing the colonial, white supremacist oppressions built into mainstream computer systems and, relatedly, replicated in the field of mainstream digital humanities (DH). Engaging with and guided by the work of Black, Indigenous, racialized, queer, feminist, and disabled scholars who are writing and speaking out about these issues (Ansloos; Bailey; Benjamin; Brocke; Duarte; Francisco-Menchavez; Freire; Hamraie; Kim; McKittrick; Noble; Phillips; Piepzna-Samarasinha; Risam; Wemigwans), we hoped to foster a community of thinkers who sought to work together to imagine-into-being a liberating “otherwise” for DH, and to support one another through the challenges of creating that “otherwise” — an otherwise that nurtures the ethics of what these citations might bring to the classroom, of what their material entanglements might do, of where and with whom we practice our scholarship. 

As we will discuss in this paper, Covid-19 has brought into overt and urgent view the immense systemic failures of higher education pedagogy for lives already vulnerable and precarious. Amidst the university’s push for “business as usual,” we find ourselves asking: What do messages of safety or of “being safe” mean in the context of anti-colonial DH pedagogy as we move our classes and communities entirely online? Following the words of Katherine McKittrick, how can we forget — for all too many of us are forgetting — that many of our students and colleagues already navigated unsafe lives before this global pandemic? Revisiting Dorothy Kim’s teachings on “Race, Social Justice and DH”, how can we overlook the hostility of already popular online spaces to targeted bodies and anti-racist, anti-casteist, and anti-patriarchal classroom and studio conversations? What constitutes the “essentials” of online and remote learning in this pandemic, so that our pedagogies are not merely mediated by elected (or enforced) web platforms but instead are always critical of their capacities for and claims to provide a “safe space” for learning and teaching? 

In response to these questions, we have been talking about care work (Piepzna-Samarasinha) and about what anti-colonial DH care work would, could, and should look like. In this paper, we will suggest that, in contrast to the university’s current colonial-capitalist use of digital technology for pandemic learning and knowledge production, or even co-optation of critical digital discourse in the name of care, scholars and educators should engage with digital technology in ways that help to build, organize, and nourish communities of action against colonizing logics and towards greater support, kindness, and sustained care for one another — both in the present pandemic, but also in and for our mutual long-term futures. Our paper will provide an invitation and a call-to-action to foster DH communities that, through deep care work, have the ability to not only dismantle capitalist-colonial systems and capitalist-colonial responses to sociocultural, sociopolitical issues, but also to honour embodied technologies and lived realities in the production of classroom-based DH learning.

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