[Humanist] 29.82 Nepal? National identity and digital humanities?

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Jun 9 13:24:52 CEST 2015

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 29, No. 82.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

  [1]   From:    Domenico Fiormonte <domenico.fiormonte at gmail.com>         (43)
        Subject: Emergency Nepal 2015

  [2]   From:    Gregory Crane <gregory.crane at tufts.edu>                   (37)
        Subject: The Big Humanities, National Identity and the Digital
                Humanities in Germany

        Date: Sun, 7 Jun 2015 12:38:17 +0200
        From: Domenico Fiormonte <domenico.fiormonte at gmail.com>
        Subject: Emergency Nepal 2015

Dear colleagues and friends,

my work as teacher, researcher and digital humanist in recent years
has brought me into contact with a variety of cultural realities.
During these experiences I became progressively unable of drawing a
line between my academic activity as a scholar and my social
engagement as a humanist and social scientist. That's why I insisted
on asking Willard to send this email, although I realize it may sound
off-topic to some list members.

Since 2009 I have been involved with an Italian NPO working in India
and Nepal (http://www.ilmondodelleidee.it/?lang=en). In particular,
this NPO is concerned with education in a multicultural and
inter-religious world. Together with other volunteers of the NPO I
travelled to Katmandu and Pokhara in 2010 and 2012 and I had the
opportunity to admire the competence, passion and honesty of this
group of incredible people who are now gathering funds for a range of
initiatives connected to the recent earthquake.

I am aware that requests for help are constant, and it is not easy to
orient oneself, but if further reassurance is required, I personally,
taking advantage of a sabatical this year, will be in Nepal in October
to assist them in their work. Thus, I will be able to report back what
I have seen and the nature of our intervention.

Our friends and local collaborators are safe and sound, but the
effects of the second tremor two  weeks were devastating. Besides the
thousands of dead - we will never know the real figures, given the
"invisibility" of the poor - many stunning medieval sights in
Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur (the village where Bertolucci shot
Little Buddha) are now just rubble. It is as if an earthquake had
flattened Italian historical cities like Pisa, Arezzo e Siena all at
the same time. The Boudhanath Stupa, one of Tibetan Buddhism's most
important monuments, is now a pile of
stones. The same goes for many other UNESCO sites. To get an idea of
how things were and are now, have a look at the following photos:


You can find more information about the NPO (in English) here:

An interview (in Italian) about the present situation in Nepal with
Viola Padovani, the founder of the NPO, is available here:


If you are interested in our ongoing aid iniatives, please contact me
off list or go to the web site.

Grateful for any small nugget of help you'll be able to provide...


Domenico Fiormonte

        Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2015 12:32:26 +0200
        From: Gregory Crane <gregory.crane at tufts.edu>
        Subject: The Big Humanities, National Identity and the Digital Humanities in Germany

The Big Humanities, National Identity and the Digital Humanities in Germany

National funding agencies have a natural tendency, indeed an
obligation, to support national objectives. In the Humanities, this leads to
to a focus upon the Big Humanities -- educating the population in the
language(s), literature and culture of the national state, a focus that is
visible in the United States, Germany and elsewhere. But in Germany, this
focus raises strategic questions about how to move forward. Dariah-DE, for
example, is nominally a European project but it conducts its business in
German, publishes its reports in German, and its core element of
infrastructure, TextGrid, is developed in German. This makes it difficult
for developers outside of the German speaking world to follow, much less
participate in developing, Dariah-DE and TextGrid. At the same time, the
second language of Literary Studies and Literary Theory in English is
French, rather than German -- a major Digital Humanities project that
focuses on German literature, history and culture and that publishes largely
in German will have a difficult time exerting influence within an
international Digital Humanities community insofar as that community uses
English as a lingua franca.

The Anglophone community can get away with focusing on projects that focus
on the national interests of their various countries -- if they produce
interesting technology and do interesting work on English literature, many
people in the international DH community can readily follow the English
publications, documentation and even commented source code (where source is
properly documented). But where 77% of the 55 million records in
Elsevier'™s Scopus database of Arts and Humanities publications point to
English language publication, only 4.2% of the records point to German
(French, with 7.1% is the second most widely used language, an order
magnitude less than English).  The German DH community needs to decide how
it balances its obligation to advance the cultural identity of the German
speaking world against its aspiration to participate within, and have an
impact upon, the international Digital Humanities community. Such impact
goes beyond technology and digital methods --“ it raises also the questions
of how fully a Digital Humanities infrastructure for German language,
literature and culture is designed to expand the role that German language,
literature and culture can play beyond the German speaking world.

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