Call for proposals : Digital humanities Asia

Call for proposals : Digital humanities Asia : Harnessing Digital Technologies to Advance the Study of the Non-Western World, 26-29 April 2018, Stanford University

Deadline : 15 July 2017

Over the past decade, a powerful new suite of spatial, textual, and social network analysis tools – broadly understood as the Digital Humanities – has begun to reshape the methods that we as Humanists and Social Scientists bring to bear on our questions, and indeed the very questions we ask. Looking out over the terrain of Digital Humanities (DH) initiatives, the vista is a marvelous and dynamically changing one. At Stanford University alone, one can point to award-winning programs such as the Mapping the Republic of Letters project, myriad initiatives based at the Stanford Literary Lab, the Kindred Britain project, and the ORBIS Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World, to cite only a handful of examples. When we extend our view across the United States and worldwide, the roster of DH initiatives becomes ever more compelling and exciting.

At the same time, an impartial view of Digital Humanities scholarship in the present day reveals a stark divide between “the West and the rest.” With notable exceptions, such as the Markus platform, CText, the China Biographical Database Project, the Digital Islamic Humanities Project, and others, far fewer large-scale DH initiatives have focused on Asia and the Non-Western world than on Western Europe and the Americas.

This divide runs very deep, and is not primarily a question of scholarly interest or orientation. The “Asia deficit” within Digital Humanities is in no small part the outcome of more entrenched divides within the platforms and digital tools that form the foundation of DH itself. Digital databases and text corpora – the “raw material” of text mining and computational text analysis – are far more abundant for English and other Latin alphabetic scripts than they are for Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, and other Non-Latin orthographies. This deficit, in turn, derives in large part from the widespread unavailability of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) platforms, text parsers, and tokenizers capable of handling and processing Non-Latin scripts – not in any way due to the paucity of primary source materials. As a result, when we look at DH in Western Europe and the Americas, we find a vibrant intellectual environment in which even college and university undergraduates – let alone more advanced researchers – can download off-the-shelf analytical platforms and data corpora, and venture into new and cutting-edge research questions; while, in the context of Asian Studies, we find an environment in which many of the most basic elements of DH research remain underdeveloped or non-existent.

The objective of this multi-day conference is to advance a new era in Non-Western Digital Humanities by bringing together leading and emerging scholars of East, South, Southeast, and Inner-Central Asia working in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics, and Engineering.

With support from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange, and multiple departments, centers, and divisions at Stanford University, the conference will focus on four (4) areas of research that represent both the core of DH as a whole, as well as areas in which Asian Studies scholars have been underserved and under-resourced: (1) the Spatial Analysis of Asian Human Geographies, (2) Text Mining and Computational Analysis of Asian & Non-Latin Scripts, (3) Network Analysis of Non-Western social formations, and (4) the development of Digital Humanities tools and platforms designed for the unique challenges of Asian Studies scholarship.

DHAsia is seeking paper proposals for its 2018 Summit Meeting focused on East, South, Southeast, and Inner/Central Asia.

Material should be submitted via email/attachments to Tom Mullaney : with the subject heading « DHASIA 2018 APPLICATION ».

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