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On Tuesday June 4, 2013 the History and Archives group will be presenting the paper "Digital Activism and the Digital Humanities" at Congress in Victoria, Canada



 At the close of every year TIME magazine awards a person or group of persons the honourific ‘Person of the Year’. In 2011 this title was awarded to The Protestor. From the Arab Spring to the Occupy Movement activists worked to gather support, to connect to each other, and to bring about change. In addition to massive mobilizations The Protestor had an arsenal of digital technologies at their disposal and terms such as Twitter Revolution, Revolution 2.0 and #__________ became ubiquitous.
           Shortly before the unrest of 2011 a collective of digital humanities scholars and practitioners in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and Australia came together to found 4Humanities. In response to alarming funding cuts to many universities and education programs these advocates believe it is their responsibility to act in defense of the humanities; “The humanities are in trouble today, and digital methods have an important role to play in effectively showing the public why the humanities need to be part of any vision of a future society.”[1]
           This paper will discuss the potential for digital activism in humanities advocacy from within the walls of academia:

• First we will define the term digital activism discuss its history and some tactics.

• Next we will describe the international 4Humanities Initiative, its goals and activities.

• Finally we will outline one activity undertaken at the University of Alberta to assist in this grassroots endeavour - the creation of an Advocacy Guide for digital humanists.

The Advocacy Guide is composed of five sections:

1. What’s at Stake - describes the funding and support issues prevalent in the Humanities.

2. Brief History of the Humanities - describes the historical ‘splitting’ of the Arts of Sciences.

3. Arguments FOR and AGAINST - covers the arguments both in support of the Humanities as well as those with a negative view.

4. Preparing for Advocacy - describes the important factors to consider when developing an advocacy campaign for the Humanities.

5. Tactics - discusses appropriate digital advocacy tactics drawn from the literature on digital activism.

Alan Liu writes that:

"Truly to contribute, I believe, the digital humanities will need to show that it can also take a leadership role. The obvious leadership role at present is service for the cause of the humanities. Now that the humanities are being systematically or catastrophically defunded by nations, states, and universities, the digital humanities can best serve the humanities by helping it communicate in the new arena of networked and social public knowledge, helping it showcase its unique value, and helping it partner across disciplines with the STEM sciences in “grand challenge” projects deemed valuable by the public and its leaders." [2]

The digital humanities have an advantage and even a responsibility to make use of the improved analytical and communicative methods afforded to us today. This paper will show some of the ways we can.


Introduction to Digital Activism

  • What is digital activism

Humanist Listserve in Response to Funding Cuts to the Humanities and the Call to Action

4Humanities Advocacy Guide

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