On April 27-28th 2018, I had the opportunity to participate in the DHAsia Summit at the Stanford Humanities Center, a major academic event in the United States during the Spring quarter. Sponsored by the Mellon Foundation, it was organized by Thomas Mullaney with the support of the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA). The summit gathered about fifty world leading Asia scholars committed to digital practice.
I will make no attempt to summarize or provide an exhaustive list of the various projects presented. I will rather observe that such variety itself testifies of the diversity of practices that fall under the umbrella term “digital humanities” and reveals the unbounded nature of the digital field. I also noticed the effort to establish international standards and common sets of practices around selected tools (III-F), and a general trend toward more integrated projects (global gazetteers).
The closing discussion pointed to the permanence of nation-based research, the unequal representation of countries (notably the preeminence of China and Japan), but also suggested the emergence of a community of Asia scholars around digital practices. Concluding remarks discussed the afterlives of such spectacular but short-term events, raising the issues of how to perpetuate the ephemeral community spirit generated by the physical gathering of individuals, and questions the need / relevance of institutionalizing such initiatives.
My own paper aimed to present MADSpace, the research platform that I developed as a digital companion to my PhD project devoted to a spatial history of advertising in modern Shanghai. An abstract and the Powerpoint of my presentation are available here.