Call for Abstracts - Digital Humanities : the final frontier for the decolonization of knowledge?
For its 30th Anniversary, IFRA-Nigeria organizes a conference , in collaboration with the Institute of African Studies (University of Ibadan) : “Digital Humanities: the final frontier for the decolonization of knowledge?”. We invite researchers interested in presenting at the conference to submit their abstract before May 16th, 2021.
Computers and the Internet have radically changed the way we study, learn, research and write. It won’t come as a surprise that this very phenomenon has triggered a wave of research and publications especially in the last thirty years. It has led to intense debates on the role and place of Digital Humanities (DH) in academia. DH have been presented either as a revolutionary discipline or a mere technological tool for researchers. Even though a growing number of African universities and research centres have been developing projects related to DH, this conversation has, until now, largely been circumscribed to rich universities located mostly in Western countries. At the same time, the development of Internet connections in African cities, the democratization of IT equipment and the growing access to material published online have opened new alleys to produce original data, have worldwide academic discussions and create a more open field of publishing. Disciplinary and political barriers are being crossed by more and more researchers willing to collaborate on joint projects.
As proven by many scholars in Nigeria and elsewhere on the continent, Africa is already a part of the digital transformation of humanities. For example, an increasing proportion of public African archives, and to a certain extent private archives too, are being digitised and made accessible on the internet. Yet, as much as the new technologies are raising enthusiasm, they have prompted discussion among researchers and archivists, on subjects ranging from matters of intellectual property to sovereignty and governance. Digital Humanities do indeed raise questions about Africa’s sovereignty as some have argued that “twenty-first century missionaries carry not Bibles but scanners” and the “complex of the white saviour” seems sometimes to have been turned into the “complex of the digital saviour”. Such arguments righly point that it is critical to reject the fetishization of technological tools or the idea that they are “neutral”, in order to understand how and under which conditions they can help us reshape research questions in an hopefully more inclusive, bottom-up and critical way.
This conference will reflect on the role played by Digital Humanities in African contexts, as well as interrogate if and how they can contribute to the process of decolonization of knowledge currently underway within social sciences and the humanities, particularly in African studies. It aims specifically at interrogating the role played by DH in the relationship between academics based in universities in the South and their colleagues based in the North.
We would particularly welcome contributions on the following topics:
- What kind of projects show the potential of Digital Humanities in an African context? What do these projects bring to the existing scholarship?
- To what extent do Digital Humanities projects undertaken in Africa redefine the whole discipline of Digital Humanities? What is their epistemological contribution?
- How can DH tools already used in an African context reshape research questions?
- How do African scholars using postcolonial or decolonial perspectives contribute to Digital Humanities?
- What role can Digital Humanities play in the dissemination of research towards both students and a general audience? How can we best curate the large pool of data produced through digitisation?
N.B. Papers can be presented remotely. Limited funding will be available for scholars based in West Africa outside of Ibadan.
- Dr Ademide Adelusi-Adeluyi, Assistant Professor (Department of History, University of California)
- Dr Vincent Hiribarren, Director (IFRA-Nigeria), Senior lecturer (King’s College London)
- Dr Cyrielle Maingraud-Martinaud, Researcher (IFRA-Nigeria), Associate researcher (LAM, Sciences Po Bordeaux)
- Prof. Senayon Olaoluwa, Director (Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan)