HomeCall for Workshops: Critical Digital Humanities and Participatory Design (#CDHNepal2019)

Call for Workshops: Critical Digital Humanities and Participatory Design (#CDHNepal2019)


Critical Digital Humanities and Participatory Design: A Workshop Series in Kathmandu, Nepal

Date: June 13 -30, 2019 (3 weeks)

Host Organization: SAFAR: South Asian Foundation for Academic Research


Dr. Laura Gonzales

Assistant Professor of Digital Writing and Cultural Rhetorics, The University of Florida

Multilingual User-Experience Collaborative, co-director

Bibhushana Poudyal 

Overseas Digital Humanities Consultant, South Asian Foundation for Academic Research (SAFAR) and Center for Advanced Studies in South Asia (CASSA)

Faculty, Institute of Advanced Communication Education and Research (IACER)

PhD Student, The University of Texas at El Paso

Venue: Malpi International College, Kathmandu

Contact for Registration:

Prof. Sangita Rayamajhi, sangita.rayamajhi@gmail.com, Mobile: 00977-9818538797

Prof. Arun Gupto, orungupto@gmail.com, Mobile: 00977-9841476911

For more on Registration, check: http://www.safarsouthasia.org/activities/


Introduction: Digital Humanities and Critical Digital Humanities

DH is an academic field and a scholarly activity at the intersection of the various computational tools or digital technologies and the various disciplines of Humanities. It both uses and reflects upon the application of the various digital technologies by engaging with old and new critical and crucial questions in Humanities. DH is considered to be the method to address the demand and desire for interdisciplinary methodologies that are necessary to address the shifting ecologies of knowledge production and dissemination and to create a pedagogical atmosphere that transgresses current pedagogical limitations. James Purdy (2011) says, “the life of knowledge production, particularly in the academy, depends upon digital archives as the texts we study and produce—and that defines the discipline—increasingly live in these spaces.” Hence, DH “aims to produce and use applications and models that make possible new kinds of teaching and research, both in the humanities and computational science (and its allied technologies)[1]” (Melissa Terras, 2011).

The question is where do we stand in this changing academic, scholarly, and pedagogic scenario? We can check this 2012 infographic which attempts at quantifying Digital Humanities around the globe: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/infostudies/melissa-terras/DigitalHumanitiesInfographic.pdf (Melissa Terras, 2011). This might not be the only way to measure it, but it is definitely one of the significant ways to see our participation, contribution, access, and agency in this shifting ecologies where the printed words are not the only way of knowledge production, dissemination, and amplification. This also means where our scholarship, research, and academia are in this globalized present. Undoubtedly, the presence is very scant. Most of the libraries are still limited in printed form of information, which makes our epistemological participation and amplification of our knowledge systems in the global context next to impossible. And the bitter consequence of this is we are re-presented around the world (if we are ever discussed) as the way powerful Western institutions have been representing us for centuries. We might be, once in a while, an object of inquiry but hardly a participant or agency of that inquiry. Some of the examples of those re-presentations can be palpated in the digital archival projects called like Digital Archaeology Foundation[2], 2015 Nepal Earthquake[3], The Thak Archive[4], and Birds of Nepal[5]. These are created by the West and are archived on West-based institutions. In these digital archives, the knowledge that is produced and disseminated about Nepal has a very simplistic dimension: exotic and/or damage-based. However unintentional and well-intentioned they are, these digital archives about Nepal are no different than what Edward Said (1978) aptly remarked vis-à-vis Description de l'Égypte, the “great collective appropriation of one country by another” (84). Nepal becomes a matter of past, rather than a dynamic present, to be preserved for the future. And Nepal is just an example. What we are talking about here is the dominant portrayal and creation of Non-Western worlds or what is also called a Global South in the digital spaces by institutions of Global North.

Only when Digital Humanities or Digital Research and Writing Labs are incorporated in our academia and libraries with rigorous conversations with Critical Humanities, the scenarios can be one of the crucial ways of starting an ethical transformation. Whether in Global South or Global North, scholars and activist researchers have started engaging in Post/Decolonial Digital Humanities[6] and Feminist Digital Humanities[7] projects where the digitally untold and yet-to-be circulated knowledge system and information have started to be distributed and amplified. What we need now is Non-Western based academic and scholarly spaces with infrastructures that support and endorse the projects like these, which we are emphatically calling Critical Digital Humanities.


The purpose and goal of these workshops will be to provide hands-on training and experiences in digital publishing for scholars in South Asia. The academics involved will provide training in digital tools starting with minimal computing and extending to digital archiving platforms. Through a participatory design and critical framework, our implied goal is to demystify or eliminate hesitancies that scholars may have toward digital publications, instead of positioning scholars as experts who can make valuable contributions to Digital Humanities practices and conversations.

No prior experience with Digital Humanities research is necessary to participate in the workshops. All newcomers are welcomed, as the program will begin with an introduction to Digital Humanities and digital publishing platforms. Through this workshop, attendees will collaborate on a digital publication that illustrates their own experiences, backgrounds, and cultures in digital spaces.


These workshops will serve as one step in a broader initiative to build collaborative, reciprocal relationships between institutions in the US such as The University of Texas at El Paso and institutions of higher education in Nepal and South Asia. The meet will build a pathway for participants to situate themselves and their work within the fields of Digital Humanities and Human-Centered Participatory Design, imagining together what (re)presentations of South Asia in online spaces can look like with more participation and engagement from Nepali and South Asian scholars in these areas.

Future Connectivity

These workshops will establish a reciprocal relationship between Digital Humanities scholars in the US and in Nepal and South Asia, leading to long-term DH initiatives that enhance the representation and depth of South Asian intellectual knowledge in online spaces.


Prior to the in-person workshops, participants will connect with the facilitators through video conferencing, email, or through the program directors to make plans for the workshop. These plans will include exploring digital tools before the start of the workshop so that the workshop time can be more efficiently used for building DH projects together. Participants will also be asked to prepare a piece of writing before the workshop. This paper will discuss a project that participants have worked on and that they would like to see represented or published on a digital platform.

Week 1 

Introductions to minimal computing

Landscape analysis project: How is Nepal currently represented in online spaces? What do we want to change about this representation? How do we change it? What do we need to make this change?

Goal-setting. Project groups will be selected based on participants’ interests and skills.

Week 2 

Hands-on tool workshops: Digital Archiving, Metadata creation, Digital Mapping, Usability and User-experience research. Creation of digital projects in teams.

Week 3 

Revising, publishing, and next steps. The workshop will end with a digital publication published collaboratively by all workshop attendees.  

For more on the schedule, please check: Detailed Schedule

[1] Digital archiving/curation; Digitization of printed texts; Textual mining, analysis, and visualization; digital cartography; Online publishing; Computational cultural analytics

[2] See https://www.digitalarchaeologyfoundation.com/about-the-digital-archaeology-foundation/

[3] See https://archive-it.org/collections/5764

[4] See http://www.digitalhimalaya.com/collections/thakarchive/, Digital Himalaya

[5] http://www.digitalhimalaya.com/collections/birdsofnepal/, Digital Himalaya

[6] See https://www.utpjournals.press/doi/abs/10.3138/carto.47.3.1069; http://dhpoco.org/blog/2014/04/08/a-postcolonial-distant-reading-of-eighteenth-and-nineteenth-century-anglophone-literature/; http://www.slavevoyages.org/; https://dsl.richmond.edu/panorama/redlining/#loc=4/36.71/-96.93&opacity=0.8; https://www.saada.org/; https://www.wired.com/story/ice-is-everywhere-using-library-science-to-map-child-separation/

[7] See https://wwp.northeastern.edu/; http://bcrw.barnard.edu/digital-feminist-archives/; https://guides.lib.umich.edu/c.php?g=282777&p=1884212; https://riseupfeministarchive.ca/