Data, Social Justice, and the Humanities Conference

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 9:00am to 4:00pm

Ehrlicher Room, 3100 North Quad, 105 S. State St.

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. 

Co-organized by UMSI Clinical Associate Professor and Research Investigator David Wallace and Assistant Director of the Institute for the Humanities Patrick Tonks, 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.

The conference schedule is as follows:

PANEL I (9-10:30 am): 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 and challenges. Shifting media landscapes in all realms of the social lend urgency to sustaining and transforming this tradition. This panel provides insights from leading figures who are at the nexus of digital scholarship and activism.  

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

BREAK (10:30-10:45 am)

PANEL II (10:45 am-12:15 pm): 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.   

Panel members: David A. Wallace (Chair), University of Michigan School of Information; Alexandra Stern and Maria Cotera, University of Michigan; Michelle Caswell, University of California, Los Angeles

LUNCH (12:15-1:30pm): 2435 North Quad

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

Paul Conway

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.

Panel members: Paul Conway (Chair), University of Michigan School of Information; Jentery Sayers, University of Victoria; Simone Browne, University of Texas, Austin; Moya Bailey, Northeastern University

BREAK (3-3:15 pm)

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

For more information, visit the University of Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities Digital Currents website.