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Data, Social Justice, and the Humanities Conference

Friday, October 3, 2014
12:00 AM
Ehrlicher Room, 3100 North Quad, Ann Arbor

The abstracts are available here.

Contemporary humanities scholarship continues to be challenged by the volume, pervasiveness, and instability of digital source materials, as well as by the need to develop methods, tools, and analytical frameworks for digital data. These transformations to scholarly inquiry and communication provide a timely opportunity to share and reflect on academic approaches to historical and contemporary struggles for social justice. This one-day conference explores the implications of gathering and analyzing digital data for humanities scholarship in light of social justice imperatives. Activism, archiving, and representation will serve as interpretive lenses to focus discussion.

Breakfast and welcome 8:30-9am

PANEL I 9-10:30am
Humanists as Activists: Changing Modes of Scholarly Communication

There is a long tradition in the humanities of scholar-activists who connect their research to social justice issues. Shifting media landscapes in all realms of the social lend urgency to sustaining and transforming this tradition. This panel provides insights from leading figures at the nexus of digital scholarship and activism.  

Chair: Lisa Nakamura, University of Michigan
Jessie Daniels, City University of New York
Jacqueline Wernimont, Arizona State University
Michelle Habell-Pallan and Sonnet Retman, University of Washington

PANEL II 10:45-12:15
Social Justice and Archives in the Digital Age

Archives have increasingly found themselves not only as source materials for scholarship but also as objects of scholarly interest as socio-political constructions that shape possibilities for knowledge construction. The “pasts” that archives hold regularly connect to contemporary struggles for social justice, making the “archive” a political and social instrument of the present. This panel will review the research of scholars who link archival work with social justice endeavors.   

Chair: David A. Wallace, University of Michigan
Alexandra Stern, University of Michigan
Maria Cotera, University of Michigan
Michelle Caswell, University of California, Los Angeles

PANEL III 1:30 - 3pm
Data Representations and the Humanities

Data need not be “big” to be daunting. Humanities scholars are confronted by the challenges presented not only by the sheer volume of digital materials - both converted analog and born digital - but also by new tools, methodologies, and tactics to mine and make sense of digital content. This panel considers “data representation” on two fronts: the implications of data collected by others to represent individuals and broader social aggregations, and the innovative ways scholars themselves collect, analyze, and represent data.

Chair: Paul Conway, University of Michigan
Jentery Sayers, University of Victoria
Simone Browne, University of Texas, Austin 
Moya Bailey, Northeastern University

WRAP-UP 3:15 - 4:00
Sidonie Smith, Director of the Institute for the Humanities