Neoliberalism and DH -Emma Poff

Since high school, my goals have been centered around having a job I enjoy and finding a way to obtain it. I worked hard in high school to work hard in college to get me to the goals that I wanted to accomplish. Sadly whether I would like to admit it or not, these goals for a worthwhile job do also depend on money. The things we all enjoy still have to have some benefits financially.

Without having some stipend this summer, I do not know if I would be able to afford going without a job to help me pay for food and necessities. So when we dicuss and read different viewpoints on whether DH exhibits neoliberal characteristics, the simple answer is yes, it kind of has to in some way. If we are trying to make the digital humanities an environment that is free and open to everyone, we must make sure that everyone can participate regardless of money. So if people need money to complete their research digital project, we must give them a stipend of some sort to truly follow the values of DH.  Sometimes to get the money for grants and stipends the DH community has to reach out to foundations and business ventures for support. I do not think this is a negative aspect of digital humanities however, because those who are willing to give money for research see the value in making information more accessible. It’s not a money-making venture in this way.

Digital humanities is not just placing information into archives in databases. Digital humanists must come up with their own questions and problem solving to create and utilize digital tools to help benefit people they are trying to educate. While some people are paid to create certain tools, they are still working to make information available and open to collaboration. I think that avoiding all aspects of neoliberalism is virtually impossible. We have been programmed to think about the benefits outweighing costs. With this mindset, come people think that we cannot also create and research for anything beyond monetary benefits. I think that no matter if a professor is writing a book or making a website, he will have the same output in terms of how he makes money. Saying that DH supports neoliberalism discredits precious institutions that make professors and scholars write books for publishing and monetary bonuses. DH is not anything different that what we have used before to present research. People will always need money and use commercializing and assistance to succeed. Just because technology requires different skill sets with some people being paid for different tools does not lessen the impact and overall mission of collaboration and openness.

One Reply to “Neoliberalism and DH -Emma Poff”

  1. Good points here. I think it’s important to remember that everything has a cost … nothing is free! And getting tangible benefits from something isn’t necessarily a bad thing. By giving the DSSFs a stipend we hope to free you from the burdens of having to think about how you’re going to eat, get shelter, etc. while working on research. This is a very privileged thing, I think, since most of the time researchers often don’t see this sort of benefit, but we are in a position at the moment to offer this, so we do.

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