Building communities of practice for Digital Humanities

The field of digital humanities (DH), or computational social sciences, is inherently interdisciplinary.  It connects humanities and social sciences (HSS) with computational approaches to research.  For this to work, DH researchers will need to have knowledge and skills in both areas, or will need to rely on collaborations between researchers from HSS and more computationally oriented fields. In South Africa, DH is still in its infancy. 

Currently, there is limited adoption of computational research practices within HSS, which diminishes the potential of researchers to optimally address critical societal problems.  Even though researchers are interested, they find it difficult to move into DH.  The South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR), which aims to build research capacity in DH, recently started the Escalator project.  This project develops a Champions program, through training (e.g., the development of training material and the organization of training events both online andoffline) with the aim to build a community of practice.  In other words, the idea behind Escalator is that the success of DH in South Africa depends on the human in DH.


Menno van Zaanen

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Digital Humanities Tilburg