Asian American Studies and/as Digital Humanities

Authored by: Lori Kido Lopez , Konrad Ng

The Routledge Handbook of Asian American Studies

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9780415738255
eBook ISBN: 9781315817514
Adobe ISBN: 9781317813927


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This chapter explores the state of Asian American studies in the digital age and its intersection with the emergence of the “digital humanities” as a field of study. We are concerned with two central lines of inquiry: How does the rich scholarship and history of Asian American studies shape the concerns of Digital Humanities, and how is Asian American studies being shaped by the agendas and pedagogies of Digital Humanities? Within the realm of media and communication studies, the development of scholarly interest in digital technologies has mirrored the development of new communication technologies. In tracing the connections between communication and culture in a digital world, scholars have worked to make sense of the meaning behind shifting practices of representation, media production, information sharing, community and identity formations, and countless other practices. The use of computing tools and digital methodologies now extends beyond the field of communication to reframe the teaching and research of subjects across the humanities scholarship, forming a diverse set of overlapping research agendas and pedagogies that contend with the intersection between technology and knowledge production. Some of the field’s earliest histories begin with “humanities computing,” 1 but transformed into “digital humanities” by 2006 when the National Endowment for the Humanities launched its agency-wide Digital Humanities Initiative. Much of the initial focus within Digital Humanities has centered on digitizing archival materials and working to transform images, text, and other forms of analog data into code. This process of digitization then allows for a wide variety of engagements—the data can be analyzed through algorithms or software, transformed into visualizations or maps, preserved online, made widely accessible and available to the public, or interpreted collaboratively. We can see through these modes of operation that Digital Humanities is many things, including an object of study, a methodology, a set of practices, and a political ideology. The work of digital humanists thus far has often been housed in English and Communication/Media Studies departments, but what we explore in this chapter is the way that the field can and does overlap with important inquiries within American studies, ethnic studies, and Asian American studies.

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