Data, Collaboration, Laboratory: Bringing Concepts from Science into Humanities Practice

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Humanities researchers have been looking for new tools and strategies to overcome what has been called, in recent years, a crisis in the humanities. These efforts maintain that it is possible to change the widespread view that humanities fields are arcane or irrelevant by changing conceptual frames in ways that show the humanities to be useful, accessible and actionable. Specifically, researchers have been claiming for the humanities frames and concepts from the sciences, such as the humanities labs that signal (in both name and design) quantifiability, verifiability and functionality. This tactic of borrowing categories from the sciences is part of a larger tactical turn that we may call the scientification of the humanities. The new field of the digital humanities, in particular, is a central site for this turn. With a focus on digital humanities practices, this article aims to describe the tactical meanings, in the humanities, of the borrowed concepts data, collaboration and laboratory, all of which strategically frame the humanities as a practical, innovative and profitable field. Ultimately, I show that the trajectory of scientification in the humanities follows a path from concepts to transformation.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)526-541
Number of pages16
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

ID: 16073037