1st Edition

South Asian Digital Humanities Postcolonial Mediations across Technology’s Cultural Canon

Edited By Roopika Risam, Rahul K. Gairola Copyright 2021
    156 Pages
    by Routledge

    156 Pages
    by Routledge

    The digital cultural record has a powerful role to play in both new and future strategies of creating new homes within the digital milieu. For example, the development and establishment of new digital archives around South Asian studies not only allows us to create new archives of the past but also to remember and commemorate the past differently. New maps transform how we understand space and place. And new digital comfort zones facilitate connections for those whose family and loved ones are only accessible online. Such interventions are essential to the recuperation of the integrity and soul of a people who have lived through and continue to shoulder the fraught and painful legacies of the British Empire and the communal bloodshed wrought by its demise.

    Building on the important history of digital humanities scholarship in South Asia and its diasporas that precedes this work, this book contends that South Asian studies is further positioned to offer a new genealogy of digital humanities, demonstrated through this assemblage of essays that reveal how the digital continues to shape notions of home, belonging, nation, identity, memory, and diaspora through a variety of humanistic methodologies and digital techniques.

    South Asian Digital Humanities thus demonstrates that postcolonial digital humanities has great possibility for creating some of the most important social justice scholarship in South Asian studies of the past century. It offers these essays as innovative interventions that complicate the digital cultural record while lodging a 'homelanding' for South Asians within it, positioning digital humanities as a method through which South Asian studies can strategically participate in the ongoing struggle for representation within digital knowledge production.

    This book was originally published as a special issue of South Asian Review.


    Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

    Foreword: From Subaltern Studies to South Asian Digital Humanities

    Radhika Gajjala

    1. South Asian Digital Humanities Then and Now

    Roopika Risam & Rahul K. Gairola

    2. Digital Humanities on the Ground: Post-Access Politics and the Second Wave of Digital Humanities

    Nishant Shah

    3. Emulation as Mimicry: Reading the Salman Rushdie Digital Archive

    Porter Olsen

    4. Inside and Outside the Literary Marketplace: The Digital Products of Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy, and Salman Rushdie

    Tawnya Azar

    5. Gender-Based Violence in Contemporary Digital Graphic Narratives From India

    Jana Fedtke

    6. Acoustic Traces of Poetry in South Asia

    A. Sean Pue

    7. Beyond the Archive Gap: The Kiplings and the Famines of British Colonial India

    Amardeep Singh

    8. Colonial Topographies of Internet Infrastructure: The Sedimented and Linked Networks of the Telegraph and Submarine Fiber Optic Internet

    Dhanashree Thorat

    Afterword: The Vision and the Work into the 21st Century

    Sukanta Chaudhuri


    Roopika Risam (PhD, Emory University, Atlanta, USA) is an Associate Professor of Secondary and Higher Education and English and the Faculty Fellow for Digital Library Initiatives at Salem State University, USA, where she also serves as Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies, and Coordinator of the Combined B.A./M.Ed. in English Education. Her research interests lie at the intersections of postcolonial and African diaspora studies, humanities knowledge infrastructures, digital humanities, and new media. Her first monograph, New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy, was published by Northwestern University Press in 2018. She is co-editing two volumes: Intersectionality in Digital Humanities with Barbara Bordalejo for Arc Humanities Press and The Digital Black Atlantic with Kelly Baker Josephs for the Debates in the Digital Humanities series (University of Minnesota Press). Along with Carol Stabile, she is Co-Director of Reanimate, an intersectional feminist publishing collective recovering archival writing by women in media activism. She recently received the Massachusetts Library Association’s Civil Liberties Champion Award for her work promoting equity and justice in the digital cultural record.

    Rahul K. Gairola (PhD, University of Washington, Seattle, USA) is The Krishna Somers Lecturer in English & Postcolonial Literature in the Creative Media, Arts, & Design discipline and a Fellow of the Asia Research Centre at Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia. He is the co-author of Migration, Gender and Home Economics in Rural North India (Routledge, 2019); author of Homelandings: Postcolonial Diasporas and Transatlantic Belonging (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2016); and co-editor of Revisiting India’s Partition: New Essays on Memory, Culture, and Politics (Orient Blackswan/Lexington Books, 2016). He is the co-editor of the “Digital Spatialities” special issue of Asiascape: Digital Asia (Brill) and is an Article Editor for Postcolonial Text. He sits on the executive committees of Global Outlook::Digital Humanities (GO::DH), the Australasian Association of Digital Humanities (aaDH), and the Digital Humanities Association for Research and Teaching Innovation (DHARTI, India). He is currently working on a monograph that re-thinks the notion of “home” in technology and sexuality in the South Asian diaspora, and an edited collection on trauma and healing in Asian literature and culture. In addition to teaching in Western Australia, he has taught at the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee, India, and a number of American institutions including The City University of New York, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Seattle University.

    "Pertinent, provocative, and powerful – the contributions in South Asian Digital Humanities align and advance, engage and intervene, together documenting, situating and resituating essential foundations, rich contexts and imperative perspectives that collectively inform this important area. Risam and Gairola have produced a commendable volume that situates timely dialogues and debates of the digital humanities in the historical, theoretical, and geographical contexts of postcolonial South Asia."

    - Ray Siemens, Distinguished Professor of English and Director of the Electronic Textual Cultures Lab (ETCL), Implementing New Knowledge Environments Project, and the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; and Global Innovations Chair in the Digital Humanities in the PVC Office of Education and Arts at the University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia


    "The digital record has an increasingly important role to play in the study of South Asian texts and cultures. Gairola and Risam's timely collection is an important intervention at the nexus of humanities and digital research techniques, articulating the need for methodologies that embrace de-colonial, feminist and intersectional perspectives to understand South Asian approaches to identity, nationality, colonialism, and diaspora. Covering literature, poetry, digital archives, and data infrastructures, this formidable volume provides a roadmap for interrogating issues of diversity, equity, and representation, while providing a necessary platform for digital postcolonial studies that is inclusive of South Asian voices and cultures."

    - Melissa Terras, Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage at the University of Edinburgh's College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Data, Culture and Society; and Director of Research in the Edinburgh Futures Institute, Scotland


    "How do the digital afterlives of colonialism shape the formation of the digital record, and in turn, the cultural memory of humanity? In raising these questions, the contributors to this stimulating collection stake new and important terrain for the digital humanities. This collection of essays prises open rich veins of thinking around the digital turn and its implications not only for archives, pedagogy and research, but for the reproduction of silences, inequalities and broader workings of power. In revisiting the project of postcolonialism through the lens of the digital humanities, the gift of these essays is a re-spiriting of both. A politically engaged postcolonial scholarship must now contribute to envisioning a post-surveillance society, a politics of the disconnected subject and a differently connected global community."

    - Melinda Hinkson, Director of the Institute of Postcolonial Studies, Melbourne; and Convening Editor of the journal Postcolonial Studies


    "Roopika Risam and Rahul K Gairola’s South Asian Digital Humanities is an important and timely volume offering a collection of innovative chapters which explore digital humanities in the South Asian context. The contributors come from diverse disciplinary backgrounds and make innovative methodological and theoretical interventions. The field-defining introduction is followed by chapters that deal with digital politics, archives, literary texts and infrastructures. As an emerging discipline, I believe this will be a key text for digital humanities in South Asia."

    Rohit K Dasgupta, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Industries, University of Glasgow; and Visiting Fellow, Loughborough University, UK


    "South Asian Digital Humanities breaks new ground by drawing together established and emerging voices to set out an ambitious agenda and key issues for contemporary comparative research at the intersection of digital humanities, postcolonial and diaspora studies. In this impressive, innovative volume, diverse strands of critical debate are interwoven with wider historical and cultural trajectories, expanding our understanding of the possibilities of digital approaches to South Asian scholarship."

    Paul Arthur, Vice-Chancellor’s Professorial Research Fellow; and Chair in Digital Humanities and Social Sciences, School of Arts and Humanities, Edith Cowan University, Western Australia


    "This volume truly innovates valuable scholarship. Roopika Risam and Rahul Gairola have done an admirable job in producing and curating a collection of essays that constellates diverse scholarly questions and insights that explore, and expand, the boundaries of postcolonial studies and digital humanities. With nuance, breadth, and depth, this volume critically responds to the ever-growing complexity of the increasingly digital contexts in which we work, think, and live. And perhaps just as importantly, this work reveals  possibilities of what contemporary digital humanities can be, as well as the vital contributions that emerge from innovative explorations like this. South Asian Digital Humanities is a building block for much more to come."

    - Tyler Shores, University of Cambridge ThinkLab Manager; and Senior Research Associate, Intellectual Forum at Jesus College, University of Cambridge, UK.