“...Technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.” ~ Steve Jobs
The Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur started the Interdisciplinary Research Platform on Digital Humanities (IDRP-DH) in 2019, making the Institute a pioneer in launching an exemplar platform for Digital Humanities in India. With the starting of such a platform, the Institute also joins hands nationally and globally with a new field of organised research that emerged at the beginning of the 2000s examining the use and application of digital technologies in humanities, the liberal arts, social science scholarship, and beyond. Popularly nested under an umbrella term “Digital Humanities”, this area of scholarship takes a critical stance to examine the role, use, application, and impact of digital tools in our everyday life, our societies, economies, cultures, and governments.
To be sure, disciplinary evolutions of the natural sciences, social sciences, the arts and humanities and allied technologies have converged and diverged over the centuries. The digital scholarship in the social sciences, the arts and humanities are only emerging. One reason for the growth of digitization in the social sciences, the arts and humanities is not an emulation of the natural sciences, rather, discovering meaning in the application of information technology as an aid to fulfil the disciplines’ basic tasks of preserving, reconstructing, transmitting, and interpreting the human record historically and contemporaneously. While the use of computational tools in social science and humanities work is not very new, however, the availability of a large body of cultural artefacts after the digital turn, as well as emergence of new kinds of digital objects and embodiments, has opened up several possibilities for social science and humanities research, practice and pedagogy using computational approaches.
The premise of IDRP-DH at IIT Jodhpur is on two aspects: (1) Digital Humanities is interdisciplinary, and therefore IDRP-DH focuses on integrating knowledge and methods from different disciplines, using a real synthesis of approaches; and (2) the Digital Humanities platform investigates the unique relationship that technology has with the humanities, social sciences and similar other areas. Specifically, the DH platform examines questions that primarily arise out of the humanities, social sciences, and allied disciplines and those that necessitates answering with the use of technology, and also questions about humanities and social sciences that are enabled because of the presence of technology. This of course opens up a much larger discussion about the evolving nature of technology in society, a symbiotic one, that the IDRP-DH also actively explores.
The research focus and pedagogy in Digital Humanities at IIT Jodhpur emphasize on many of the emerging and related epistemological questions on knowledge production about generating digital data from material objects, and on rethinking of existing processes of knowledge production. Some key extramurally funded research projects of this interdisciplinary platform include the Indian Heritage in Digital Space Project of the ICPS funded by the DST, the Archiving project on Cine-Politics funded by SPARC (Government of India), and the CRAFTs project (Handicrafts and Handloom) which also envisions setting up of a CRAFTs lab as the Common Facilities Centre (CFC) for Technology Intervention as part of the Jodhpur City Knowledge and Innovation Cluster project of the Government of India.
Pedagogically, IDRP-DH places the Institute at the frontline of organized teaching programs on Digital Humanities in the country. The doctoral program in Digital Humanities started in 2019, and the M.Sc. program in Digital Humanities is starting from the upcoming academic year (AY 2020-2021). The doctoral program offers unique opportunities to redraw conventional disciplinary boundaries among the humanities, the social sciences, the arts, technology and engineering, and the natural sciences en route to training students to learn a balanced mix of qualitative and quantitative approaches to understanding Digital Humanities. Doctoral students have the opportunity to hone their skills through internship opportunities with various reputed organizations across the country, such as the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) and the French Institute of Pondicherry. The M.Sc.-DH program is a first of its kind in India, and has been tailored to provide critical insights into the key parameters that are continually influencing and impacting the amalgamation of diverse disciplines that comprise Digital Humanities, especially digital technologies with humanities that constantly re-engineer emerging societal structures and behavior. Some of the major thrust areas of the M.Sc. DH program are archiving, cultural heritage and digital preservation, data analytics for social sciences, data journalism, and digital marketing. The M.Sc. program has been conceptualized through an intensive curriculum development workshop conducted in September 2019 with experts across the fields, and has attracted significant accolades from the Digital Humanities fraternity nationally.
Faculty members affiliated with IDRP- DH are from various departments: Humanities and Social Sciences, Computer Science and Engineering, and Mathematics to name a few. In addition, IDRP-DH enjoys the advisement of senior faculty members from other esteemed institutes in the country such as IIT Delhi, IIT Indore, IIT Kharagpur, IIM Indore, and ISI Kolkata, and other senior officials such as from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The interdisciplinary faculty of IDRP-DH has been instrumental in organizing various international workshops on Digital Humanities such as at the IEEE BigMM Conference (2019, 2020), participate in national and international Digital Humanities conferences such as the Digital Humanities 2020 conference by the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations, and other national and global events such as the International Heritage Symposium and Exhibition, 2020 . To enhance collaborative workflows, IDRP-DH actively involves academics and resource people from other institutes and universities across the country and internationally.
Coordinator, Digital Humanities
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences