Bodies of Information: Intersectional Feminism and the Digital Humanities

(edited by Elizabeth Losh and Jacqueline Wernimont, University of Minnesota Press, 2018)

Reviewed by Elena Kalodner-Martin


"This is not about learning how to do it better next time—this is about you leaving before there is a next time."

— Deb Verhoeven, 2018, p. 71


Deb Verhoeven's chapter was presented as an infographic, which explored the vast unequal distribution of men to women at the annual Digital Humanities Conference in 2015 and called on male presenters to actively make physical space for female bodies. Nickoal Eichmann-Kalwara, Jeana Jorgensen, and Scott B. Weingart additionally discussed the lack of racial, gendered, and global diversity in conference settings; this, as they discussed, has ramifications for the topics that DH continues to (fail to) explore. Christina Boyles's examination of financial resources and infrastructural support explored why DH suffers from a continued absence of intersectional feminist content: namely, a historic lack of funding and recognition. Finally, Bonnie Ruberg, Jason Boyd, and James Howe discussed how queering the digital humanities does not simply involve the inclusion of LGBT voices but requires using and developing a queer lens to shift methodologies, conceptual models, and the tools themselves (p. 121).


Part II. Values explored how the traditionally white, male, and heterosexual focus in DH work has created lasting methodologies that limit and obscure diverse projects. This section allowed for an interrogation into how DH risks uncritically adopt[ing] tools and methods… and reinforc[ing] preexisting power structures while still exploring how it can save the humanities (Eichmann-Kalwara et al., p. 72). This group of authors did highlight the latest promising trends towards a more diverse and intersectional DH, such as the Mellon Foundation's commitment to funding feminist research (Boyles) and Kara Keeling’s Queer OS, an interdisciplinary approach to queer operating system design (Ruberg et al.). However, these authors focused their attention on how the hegemonic spaces and practices of DH prevail both in obvious and more covert ways.

Though most ambiguously named ("Values"), this section included texts that do the necessary ideological grounding work for the digital humanities. Though the historical trends within the field have worked to limit access and discourage diversity, the current efforts of the authors in this section, projects created, and organizations referenced demonstrate a commitment to a more equitable future. For students seeking information about the ideologies that have formed and sustained DH work and want to explore moments of tension and opportunities for disruption, these texts' interdisciplinary and intersectional approaches showed what is possible and what still needs to be done.