Paper publication: Boundary Practices of Digital Humanities Collaborations

I am really happy that today the first paper based on my PhD research was published in the DH Benelux Journal. This new journal will serve to turn select conference abstracts from the annual conference into full papers. The first volume follows last year’s conference theme Integrating Digital Humanities. My paper critically explores the integration of the humanities and the computational domains, and concludes that the digital humanities may be more heavily oriented towards the humanities than a balancing of the digital and the humanities, limiting the ability of DH to emerge as a ‘third space’ in-between the humanities and computational domains. You can find the volume here, including my paper in HTML and in PDF.


One of the defining characteristics of digital humanities is its emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration. In order to coordinate across disciplinary boundaries, the development of common ground is necessary to negotiate goals and practices. Yet how such common ground can be established, and whether the adoption of interdisciplinary practices and vocabularies results in participants drifting apart from their disciplinary cultures is underexplored. In this paper I investigate the boundary practices of digital humanities, referring to the interactions of scholars with cross-disciplinary collaborators and disciplinary peers, and how these are affected by disciplinary diversity and physical distance within collaborations. With an online questionnaire, which received 173 responses, I have found that there is often little disciplinary diversity in digital humanities collaborations, with participants and leadership coming mostly from the humanities. The physical distance is often great, and communication increasingly relies on email. I have not found that these dimensions affect the respondents’ frequency of communication with collaborators or peers. My conclusion is that physical distance and disciplinary diversity cannot be confirmed to affect the frequency of boundary interactions of digital humanities. I furthermore conclude that digital humanities collaborations are biased towards the humanities rather than a balancing of the digital and the humanities. This paper thus provides an empirical grounding for discussions of digital humanities as a meeting place between the computational domains and the humanities.

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