Monday, April 24, 2023

Creating an Edge by Turning Adversity into Advantage

During my sabbatical, I’ve been conducting research on EDI initiatives, in addition to completing my certificate in the EDI Certificate program at UBC. It’s been rewarding, and I’m grateful for the opportunity, but it has been draining and what some call an emotional burden - to listen to, process, and reflect on the inequities of the workplace and the traumatic experiences of library workers who faced discrimination, prejudice, and racism.  I've listened to some truly heartwrenching stories.  

Harvard faculty Laura Huang researches interpersonal relationships and implicit bias in entrepreneurship and in the workplace.  The wonderful aspect of this book is that it’s not limited to any particular subject domain or just the business stories of successful people.  Rather, it’s extraordinary stories of ordinary people who came from disadvantaged backgrounds infused with evidence-based research.  Huang calls this approach EDGE – enrich, delight, and guide – to make your effort go further. These concepts make up the core structure of succeeding within an imperfect system and success ultimately requires knowing who you are so that you can turn that knowledge into an advantage.  Here is Huang's approach to creating one's edge.


Enrich - The ability to provide value to and enrich those around you. The difference between those who truly enrich and bring value to others and those who don’t actually bring value. Those who have an edge demonstrate and communicate the value they bring, rather than leave it up to others to determine.
  • Hard work should be enough; oftentimes, it’s not.
  • Know your weaknesses will help you identify your circle of competence, or “basic goods.” You’ll know not only where you’re valuable, but where you’re invaluable.
  • To use your basic goods in distinct ways, go where others don’t.
  • Embrace constraints as they provide the most opportunities.
  • Trust your intuition and your experiences – your “gut”
Delight - It’s the element of surprise, the unexpected. Delight isn’t about charming, entertaining, or slick. Rather, delight is about violating perceptions, but in a benign way, unsettling and challenging beliefs about your context, grabbing the attention of gatekeepers, and making way for you to show how you enrich
  • Before people let you in, they need to be delighted.
  • Don’t over plan. Instead, aim for flexibility and opportunities to delight.
  • Stay authentic and embrace how delight occurs in situ.
Guide - Empowering ourselves to guide our own contexts. When you know how others see you, it gives you the capacity to guide and redirect that perception, so that you can influence how people grasp and appreciate the value you command.
  • "Being yourself” means guiding others to the best versions of your multiple identities.
  • Know how others see you, so you can redirect them to how they should see you.
  • Guide others to what is within you by recognizing what is around you.
  • Guide how others see your trajectory. It’s not where you’ve been; it’s where you’re going.
Effort - Effort and hard work reinforce the edge that you create for yourself. Gaining an edge requires hard work, plus. You need hard work, but when so many factors are driven by outside forces, you also need to know how to allocate effort.
  • Turn adversity into your edge.
Laura Huang proposes that rather than spinning our wheels and feeling sorry for ourselves for these injustices, we need to accept the reality of our disadvantages and do something about it.   It's an inspiring monograph for those who have faced discrimination and seem to hit a wall all the time.  As a person of colour who grew up in an immigrant household and was the first to have gone to university in my family, I've faced racism and microaggressions as many of my generation and background have.  This book offers some solace.      
“Your past is not something that you should lament; it should be another asset in how you gain your unique advantage. Let your past make you better, no bitter.”

Friday, April 07, 2023

Rest is Resistance as Liberation

I learned about this book from the EDI Scholar-in-Residence, Nneka Allen, who introduced the concept of rest to the audience.   What a lifechanging moment.   I couldn't put down Tricia Hersey's book once I picked it up.  Rest is not a luxury, but resistance against grind culture.  Rest is a form of resistance because it disrupts and pushes back against capitalism and white supremacy. But Tricia Hersey argues that resting is not intended for us to come back stronger and more productive for a capitalist system. 

As someone who has grown up and is born in this system and culture, the idea of rest is a novel concept to me.   Rest is a deep movement of deprogramming our minds to discard this false belief of striving for constant perfectionism. Because capitalism has captured most of us, we are under the spell of the hustle-and-grind culture that compels society to the “unreachable finish line of wealth.” Rest is not encouraged or modeled in such a culture.  Some of the key highlights I want to share here:


“Students are being trained to be workers who can follow orders, memorize facts, and be on time no mater what. Imagination and critical thinking skills are replaced with cookie-cutter learning and standardized testing"

“We have been socialized, manipulated, and indoctrinated by everything in culture to believe the lies of grind culture. In order for a capitalist system to thrive, our false beliefs in productivity and labor must remain"

“We center rest as a means for healing and liberation. We believe sleep deprivation is a racial and social justice issue"

“Rest is resistance because it is a counternarrative to the script of capitalism and white supremacy for all people"

“Unlike white feminism, womanism holds space for race, class, and gender and understands the family and community of Black woman are collaborators in the struggle for liberation” 

“We can . . . begin to honor our bodies and trust our ability to learn new ways of being. We don’t have to be burned out, sleep-deprived, painfully exhausted, or disconnected from our selves and each other"

“I name academia as one of the main sites of grind culture. The headquarters of pushing through exhaustion, competition, expectations, and a lack of balance. people live in the library never once leaving, bringing sleeping bags to lay under tables and in between bookshelves. . ."

“The stress, anxiety, overloaded curriculum, and pressure we normalize in public schools and higher education are toxic and dangerous for everyone involved, but particularly toxic for young children and young adults who are still developing a sense of self . . . we seek external validation from a violent system void of love"

“. . . resting is a connection and a path back to our true nature. We are stripped down to who we really were before the terror of capitalism and white supremacy"

“The system has been lying and guiding us all blindly to urgent and unsustainable fantasies. We have replaced our inherent self-esteem with toxic productivity"

“You don’t have to always be creating, doing, and contributing to the world. Your birth grants you rest and leisure as well"

Naps are about a “deep journey toward decolonizing and returning to our natural state before the terror and the lies were given to us"

“We are going up against such violent systems in our attempt to disrupt and push back: white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, patriarchy, classism, anti-Blackness, homophobia, etc"

“Go to your beds. Go to your couches. Find a hammock. Go into the portal of naps. Go there often. You don’t have to wait on permission from the dominant culture"

Tricia Hersey suggests a 30-day sabbath, a quarantine and liberation from our grind culture, and focusing instead on rest. It means not only detoxing from technology and social media but announcing and making it clear as possible to everyone in your spheres that you will not be available during this time. Without a model from our culture for what it looks like to stop and pause, a sabbath is an opportunity for “intense imagination work and collaboration with Spirit” even if it’s for ten minutes, a weekend, or a month.” Whatever it is, this rest should be unique to us and only us.  

Monday, April 03, 2023

Future Horizons: Canadian Digital Humanities

It's been a few years of hard work and many fruitful research discussions with my research partner, Sarah Zhang, and the fruits of our labour are out with our chapter in Future Horizons: Canadian Digital Humanities.   When we first started out together on this project, we worked on with the historical dataset of the Chinese headtax registers (the records of migrants as they stepped off the ship and onto Canadian soil).  In 2019, we were asked to present at Paul Barrett's graduate studies seminar where we talked about the migrants' head tax, GIS, and digital humanities.  From there, we worked on presenting it at conferences.   In 2021, we were asked to submit a chapter to a book that Sarah Roger and Paul Barrett were thinking about putting together.  And in April 2023, it was finally published.  
Across more than twenty chapters, Future Horizons explores the past, present, and future of digital humanities research, teaching, and experimentation in Canada. Bringing together work by established and emerging scholars, this collection presents contemporary initiatives in digital humanities alongside a reassessment of the field’s legacy to date and conversations about its future potential. It also offers a historical view of the important, yet largely unknown, digital projects in Canada. 
Future Horizons offers deep dives into projects that enlist a diverse range of approaches—from digital games to makerspaces, sound archives to born-digital poetry, visual arts to digital textual analysis—and that work with both historical and contemporary Canadian materials. The essays demonstrate how these diverse approaches challenge disciplinary knowledge by enabling humanities researchers to ask new questions.

The collection challenges the idea that there is either a single definition of digital humanities or a collective national identity. By looking to digital engagements with race, Indigeneity, gender, and sexuality—not to mention history, poetry, and nationhood—this volume expands what it means to work at the intersection of digital humanities and humanities in Canada today.

Introduction
1. Digital Canadas? Transforming the Nation — Sarah Roger and Paul Barrett

Part 1. Situating and Disrupting Digital Scholarship
2. Where Is the Nation in Digital Humanities, Revisited — Roopika Risam
3. Rerouting Digital (Humanities) Scholarship in Canada — Andrea Zeffiro
4. Closed, Open, Stopped: Indigenous Sovereignty and the Possibility of Decolonial DH — David Gaertner
5. “This Game Needs to be Made”: Playable Theories ⇌ Virtual Worlds — Jon Saklfoske
6. Reimagining Representational Codes in Data Visualization: What Contemporary Digital Humanities Might Learn from Visual Arts-Based Disciplines — Julia Polyck-O’Neill
7. Making, Conversation: An Experiment in Public Digital Humanities — Kim Martin and Rashmeet Kaur

Part 2. Digital Poetics
8. Canadian Poetry and the Computational Concordance: Sandra Djwa and the Early History of Canadian Humanities Computing — Sarah Roger, Paul Barrett, and Kiera Obbard
9. Canadian Poetry and the Computer — Sandra Djwa
10. “saga uv th relees uv human spirit from compuewterr funckshuns”: Space Conquest, IBM, and the Anti-digital Anxiety of Early Canadian Digital Poetics (1960–1968) — Gregory Betts
11. From the Digits to the Digital: Bodies in the Machines of Canadian Concrete Poetics — Eric Schmaltz
12. Nations of Touch: The Politics of Electronic Literature as Digital Humanities — Dani Spinosa
13. STOP WORDS — Klara du Plessis

Part 3. Digital Canadian Archives
14. Wages Due Both Then and Now — Pascale Dangoisse, Constance Crompton, and Michelle Schwartz
15. Analog Thrills, Digital Spills: On the Fred Wah Digital Archive version 2.0 — Deanna Fong and Ryan Fitzpatrick
16. Humanizing the Archive: The potential of Hip-Hop archives in the digital humanities — Mark Campbell
17. Sounding Digital Humanities — Katherine McLeod
18. Unsettling Colonial Mapping: Sonic-Spatial Representations of amiskwaciw√Ęskahikan — Kendra Cowley
19. Beyond “Mere Digitization”: Introducing the Canadian Modernist Magazines Project — Graham H. Jensen
20. “A Legacy of Race and Data: Mining the History of Exclusion” — Allan Cho and Sarah Zhang