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Scholars as Bricoleurs: The Plurality of Digital Humanities

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Lecture by Dr. Smiljana Antonijević. The event is part of the lecture series 'New Horizons: Confronting the Digital Turn in the Humanities'

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While theoretical debates about the role of digital scholarship in the humanities abound, comprehensive empirical studies are relatively rare. This talk will probe digital humanities (DH) from an empirical perspective, discussing findings of an ethnographic study of 250 scholars described in the presenter’s book “Amongst Digital Humanists: An Ethnographic Study of Digital Knowledge Production." We will first look at how scholars across disciplines engage with digital technologies in their research workflows, focusing on scholars’ practices, needs, and challenges at different stages of the research lifecycle—from collecting and analyzing research data, to sharing and archiving research outputs. We will then examine how humanists’ digital scholarship emerges spontaneously, based on specific research or teaching needs, and, once so adopted, interacts with scholars’ research practices as a subjective process of knowledge production. In a bricolage manner, humanists construct their digital workflows from a diverse range of tools and methods suited to their preferences and needs, engaging with digital technologies in an unscripted and highly personal way that corresponds to their style of thinking and working, to their intimate epistemology. The “unruly” approach of bricolage may be outside the boundary of most DH theory, yet it is important for both DH theory and practice to recognize and engage with this variety of voices and non-canonical technology uses, paving the way for the pluralistic future of digital knowledge production in the humanities.

Dr. Smiljana Antonijević explores the intersection of communication, culture, and technology through research and teaching in the USA and Europe. She is the author of Amongst Digital Humanists: An Ethnographic Study of Digital Knowledge Production (2015), while her other recent publications focus on ethnography of DH coding (2020), data ethnography (2019), Internet and trust (2019), humanists’ digital workflows (2018), and others. In addition to academic work, Smiljana is engaged in applied research in Silicon Valley, focusing on artificial intelligence, intelligent automation, and digital security.

This event is part of "New Horizons: Confronting the Digital Turn in the Humanities", a lecture series organised by the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH).


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