For postcolonialists

Global Renderings in the Queer Digital Humanities

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      Rahul K Gairola

      How might Digtal Humanities textual scholars respond to urgent calls to queer digital humanities practices, methodologie, theory, and projects in a challenging era of a global pandemic and social justice movements?

      This panel responds to and extends crucial work done by Bonnie Ruberg, Jason Boyd and Jamie Howe in “Toward a Queer Digital Humanities” (2018). We apply Ruberg et al’s heuristic and extend it specifically by adding global and historical contexts to their conceptualisations in a comparative frame at the margins of textuality. In our framing, the digital milieu viscerally destabilizes fixed and historical moorings of both \”queer\” and \”global.\” The digital milieu\’s ability to be at once intimate in proximity of viewing experiences but distant in proximity of bodies compels us to read it as a queering apparatus that facilitates the abstraction of material bodies while bringing viewers into the intimacies of people\’s faces and their personal spaces. As such, our four papers coalesce into an ongoing research project that extends the questions posed by Ruberg, Boyd, and Howe by reading the queerness of the digital milieu as a contradictory space within which productive tension can lead to new possibilities.

      Stretching from the hybrid relationship between colonial Australian literature and contemporary knowledge representation in digitised environments, to queer Black American poets during the Cold War to Spanish fiction from the political Transición to the ubiquitous, digital literacy that attends AI, we render a queer genealogy with fundamental ramifications for the limited scope of digital humanities today. We undertsand \”queer\” in the digital milieu to signify online identities in relation to gender and sexuality as flexible, migratory, and unstable. In plain terms, we examine, in diverse ways, intersectional networks of race, gender, sexuality, otherness, nationality, language, etc. We do so among and between our respective texts, literally and figuratively focussing on margins. Thus, as per Ruberg et als directive, we queer DH with respect to this process\’s productive tension to “render visible” diverse voices while underscoring factors at play in today’s urgency for a global, queer DH.


      As evidenced by our ligheting talk videos, our panel brings together four papers investigating the queer margins of digital textual or methodological culture. From the closet to the closest reading, from what counts as hermeneutical evidence to disrupting the structures of knowledge, our panel engages the critical task of queering DH. How might DH textual scholars respond to call to queer DH practices, methodologies and projects?

      Barnett considers the queer politics of metadata in digitisation projects identifying the way item-level markings become work-level interpretive interventions. Cytron deploys close and distant reading to position Eduardo Mendicutti’s 1982 radical act of queer world-building in a global context through intertextual mapping and TEI. Sumner considers the queer implications of distant reading techniques on the FBI files on Langston Hughes and James Baldwin, which conflate homosexuality, race, and poetics by identifying all three as “perversity.” Gairola deploys queer of color critique as a lens to read the intersectional nexus of queer and postcolonial theory through analyzing machine learning’s supposed ability to detect “gayface” with facial recognition software. Together, these papers identify and press upon diverse margins in global queer digital inscriptions and.

      We invite you to join our Global Renderings in the Queer Digital Humanities to continue this critical dialgoue. We will open up asynchronous dialogue across social media sites including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the Humanities Commons based on the above guiding question. To aggregate this theme across social media platforms, we will use the hashtag #GlobalQDH and encourage you to join the discussion and use this handle. Please stay tuned here for more provocations and resources during and beyond the #DH2020 conference. See you in the queer cybersphere!

      Cheers, queers!
      Rahul, Tully, Tyne, and Megan

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