Saturday, December 24, 2016

Digital Humanities in East Asia

As an area of scholarly activity at the intersection of computing and the disciplines of the humanities, Digital humanities (DH) has evolved from simply digitizing historical texts to the philosophical, such as reflection on the nature of representation itself.  As an attendee of the Digital Humanities Summer Institute since 2008, I've seen the growth of DH as a niche study to become an emerging area of importance to the scholarship in the humanities.  I spoke to a number of librarians and scholars in the area of digital humanities and noted the various projects and stages of development across countries in Asia.  If anything, the growth of DH is Asia is far from a homogenous process.

Upon the return of my sabbatical, I presented on the state of Digital Humanities in East Asia to peers at UBC.   In examining the state of DH in Asia, my research reveals a dichotomy of what Tom Mullaney of Stanford University as a West and the Rest.   As Mullaney puts it:
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.
So it's not surprise to see uneven development across Asian countries.  The following is a list of DH scholars that Mullaney has shared and is a group that represent that wonderful work that East Asian studies experts are using the technology to enhance their research in ways that could not have happened (or at least a less immersive way) in the pre-digital world.

  • Eunkyong Shin, Columbia University - Specialist in Network Analysis, Applied to Study of Resistance Movements in Colonial Korea

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