Session 4: Queering Information/Going Rogue

How to subvert structures in a field that should be inclusive and interdisciplinary?

We all have ingrained ideas about how one should learn – how do we reverse those if structures aren’t working? Expand our outlooks/ worth with rather than against our own biases


Also, how to reform outside academia as well as within. You can “rebuild your own house.” Don’t need to be shaped by the conventional academy


Have to confront problems of “the old way” when creating a “new way”


democratization of information – in an ideal world, you don’t have to have a degree to go outside the academy to critique the academy


Do digital projects get peer reviewed? You still get stuck in the tenure-track mentality. And conversely, if you want to be on the tenure track, digital projects don’t always get counted.


If your project has a public audience, how do you readjust your metrics of success? It’s not like a scholarly book when you’re successful if you get published.

-You need metrics of success to get funded


Even if you’re outside the academy, you will probably still be in dialogue with the academy


National Museum of African American History is getting scholars to peer-review their exhibits

-But the public can also respond to it

-Also rely on individual knowledge and stories of community voices

-Not just an object is, but what it means and what stories are associated with it (rethinking the museum/exhibit)


Do you research and publish because you care about it/feel a moral duty or something else? Objectivity is an issue – sometimes you’re really excited about a topic and miss things. Expressing your research in different ways (digitally and in print, or in an exhibit) shows multiple sides and can create a more complete picture


Move from research to action – research can inspire social movements (public sociology). Also you can bring learning and activities to communities

Franz Boas Association – group of anthropologists and historians trying to do things with Franz Boas’s works, but also giving information back to Native Americans

-they have an indigenous advisory board

-undo the imperialism of anthropology



While we’re on the topic of scholars sitting in a room talking about marginalized groups – let’s notice that we’re in a pretty non-diverse room – how did our ThatCamp get that way?

-Twitter might be helpful in reaching people who couldn’t be here – so THATCamp isn’t perfect, but it might be a step in the right direction. As it is, camp has been mostly publicized at the school, where there is not as much diversity as there might be.


There are a lot of situations where your intentions might be good, but the outcome is less than desired – for example, affirmative action primarily benefits white women (which is great), but not other marginalized groups (not great)


Eleanor Roosevelt Papers confronts the problem of being able to get the papers online, but the budget is not there, and it would not be in the spirit of Eleanor Roosevelt to put the papers behind the paywall. Information should be open access, and they hope to move towards democratization of information, but having trouble getting there


access is a huge problem – some databases cost hundreds of dollars to access, and some people can afford it – but many cannot!! (For a lot of students even, they’re only accessible if the library pays)


Do the rights of the public supercede the rights of the donors who gave the money or the documents? Issues when donors place restriction on collections


Students at GW are often required to have computers for classes, or they can’t take them – might alienate students who can’t afford computers. ProQuest also charges to make your dissertation open-access at Gelman, which makes students pay $200 (kind of a barrier to making everything open-access).


“You both have to live in the situation you’ve got and change the situation you’re in.” Idea of individual rather than collective responsibility can be problematic, but individual action might have to be the way to start on the right track


“Sharing data is like being seen without your pants on” – stigma makes open access scary to some people


Question at DH meetings ALWAYS seems to be about funding – have to build a community that is passionate about being open and sharing resources, to make the project more successful


Emilie Davis diary ( – transcribed, annotated, made public access (great!) BUT a publisher came forward to give a book deal, so now the digital project doesn’t get updated in the same way, faces the problem of migration in a way it might not have if it had not been prepared for publication


In the academy you have an obligation to research and say “here’s reality,” but outside you can say “I don’t like that reality, let me try to change it.” (You hit a wall though, trying to fix reality in ways such as getting people to stop being jerks on the internet)

(Twitter and other platforms actually get help from trolls – hey, their site is getting a lot of hits! Oops

So maybe going corporate and trying to help platforms get rid of trolls might be even harder than you think.)


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About Angela Spidalette

I am a junior at the George Washington University studying archaeology and classical studies. I have participated in projects such as the Lodz Ghetto Project through the USHMM and the Smithsonian Transcription Center. Furthermore, I find the digitization of museum collections very interesting.