Reviewed by: Society for Cultural Anthropology
Of interest to: Students
Primary Theme: Technology
Cultural anthropologists use digital tools across the research cycle, from the audio recorders, cameras, and other gadgets we use to collect data in our (already mediated) field sites to the increasingly multimodal options for presenting and disseminating our research online. Yet as a distinctive form of inquiry known as “digital scholarship” begins to take shape, capacitated by the digital scholarship centers that are cropping up at many colleges and universities, cultural anthropology seems strangely peripheral to these developments. Those of us who engage with the digital humanities generally do so as cross-disciplinary, if not undisciplined, guests. Why might this be so? Is it a cause for concern? And, whether or not we as anthropologists choose to align ourselves with digital scholarship as such, how can we more fully and responsibly leverage the possibilities afforded by digital technologies in the work that we do?
This roundtable brings together scholars and practitioners at different career stages from anthropology and beyond, including the domains of librarianship and scholarly publishing. Through a moderated discussion, we aim to explore the particular conditions that foster or inhibit the creation of digital scholarship in cultural anthropology. How does the disciplinary expectation that original research ought to involve the production of new data, rather than the use of an existing corpus or archive, map onto prevailing imaginaries of digital scholarship? How do different digital forms, ranging from highly curated digital archives and exhibitions to platforms on which comparatively “raw” data can be queried, correspond to different publics that might have a stake in anthropological research both within and beyond the university? Might digital scholarship invite a more recursive relationship between analysis and dissemination, one that is marked by ongoingness and collaboration rather than linearity and closure? Finally, what are the pedagogies, partnerships, and incentive structures that are needed to capacitate this kind of scholarship and to promote its uptake?