I would like to welcome AHA THATCampers to The New School, a university established in Greenwich Village in 1919, on January 6, immediately following the American Historical Association’s annual meeting, January 2-5, in New York City. I want to thank my colleagues Dan Royles, Monica Mercado and Shane Landrum for volunteering to organize. This is a particular gift at a moment when many of us are absorbed in activism against violence toward communities of color that have been highlighted by the grand jury decisions in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases.
THATCamp is being co-sponsored by the Humanities Action Lab, a New School initiative of which I am co-director, and one that has put #DH at the center of its practice. Although our web site is still under construction and being edited, you can see more of what we are about here. This leads me to some of the things I am interested in pursuing at THATCamp:
- How does #DH intervene in moments of national crisis, like the one we are in now? How can we use the humanities, made public by our digital practice, to give voice to communities that are endangered by decades of escalated policing, and address the failure of understanding that white communities often have about conditions they do not experience or see?
- As we move forward with a progressive #DH scholarly agenda, how do we both compete for resources that support our practice and at the same time not reinforce the structural subordination of poor and marginalized populations who may not have access to our work?
- Does technology have the power to open universities to communities who are excluded from higher ed because of structural racism and classism?
- What tools might matter to the above agenda — what tools reinforce structural inequalities?
If these questions seem highly provocative, it’s only because they are! I am sure that many of us will be having these conversations at AHA, but the unconference would allow us to put them front and center.