I am impressed with my students and their thinking when we consider the purpose, advantages, and challenges in doing DH on Haiti. After Spring Break, my students presented a review of previous themes from the course. During Week Two, we focused on Digital Humanities on Haiti. While most students see the benefits of doing DH, they also considered critical questions to think through DH. On their PowerPoint, the presenters asked:
- “After looking at the pro/cons of digital scholarship, do you think that digital humanities will contribute to bettering the positionality of Haiti and increasing access to scholarship?”
- “Who will write this new ‘scholarship’ and through what lens?”
One student responded to worries of translation and access. Will meaning and symbols be lost through interpretation? Who has access to these digital collections and are these projects meant to be accessed by all? In this sense, is DH somewhat exclusionary? Other students highlighted that DH may not include the collaboration of Haitian students and scholars. Hence the second question on authorship of digital scholarship on Haiti. Another student stated that if Haitian authors are made invisible within the creation of DH on Haiti, could this lead to issues of exceptionalism. Students are thinking through the lens of decolonization, power, and exceptionalism – themes that they engage in this course and must address in their own collaborative projects. I share these reflections to highlight the importance of teaching students both opportunities and issues in creating digital projects and to encourage them to question the processes and outcomes of these collections. I’ll discuss more of these reflections on decolonization, social justice, and digital scholarship on Haiti at the Caribbean Studies Association Conference in Havana, Cuba and the Digital Humanities Conference in Mexico City.
Featured Image: Students’ PowerPoint Slide on Week Two: Digital Humanities on Haiti.