Are Digital Humanists underdogs?

I am increasingly confronted by many in the broader Digital Humanities field’s hackneyed claims that they are underprivileged. I see full Professors do this, Directors of Centres do this, lecturers and programmers do it. They claim they are misunderstood and unloved because they are Digital Humanists. They claim they are discriminated against, spat on in the street and stared at in public. They claim that they can’t get the right amount of recognition for their work and that they are intellectual giants, discriminated against because the system is not kind to them. Boo!

I am sorry, but I don’t rate highly marketable computing skills as prerequisites for the underprivileged. A classicist with computing skills and humanities education (a ‘digital humanist’) is highly employable in all contexts. A classicist with only a humanities education is less employable. A historian with computing research and humanities research skills (again, a ‘Digital Humanist’) is very employable, perhaps more so than someone with a narrower set of skills. Why do many Digital Humanities scholars, especially the more successful ones, whine so much?

It has a lot to do with the nature of the field. The Digital Humanities is a broad and eclectic field with little common academic ground. So, where better to find common ground than in the comfort of the ‘underprivileged’?  As long as some force discriminates against the Digital Humanities, it can find the elusive ‘common ground’.

The ‘underprivileged’ thesis of the Digital Humanities is an immature, unconvincing and distracting argument and acts as a retardant for intellectual growth. The assumption of  ‘privilege’ is a much more humble and responsible footing to engage with human culture, rather than looking for acceptance from a straw man whilst stomping on his foot!

The next time someone in the Digital Humanities says they are ‘underprivileged’, politely ask them to explicitly prove it to you, provide some statistical evidence, and bring some rigour to their thesis. Would we expect anything else from any other researcher? Then, we can move away from this refuge of the tyrant and engage with some grave subject matter, some of which may be about people more underprivileged than ourselves.



One response to “Are Digital Humanists underdogs?”

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    Retwitted this. Greetings from the Speedy DNS

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