What do you do
at the beginning
of the end
of a story?
Hold fast the feeling
of sandpaper hands
of worn and tired rosaries
of stiff furniture wrapped in plastic.
Inhale the air
of tiger balm
of the damp, dark, disinfected hallway
of concoctions of ginseng, seahorse, and powdery dreams.
Hold your breath to the melody
of spilled pills
of hesitant doors opening and closing
of the rhythmic hum of snores, sniffles, and television whispers.
Replay the image
of the wrinkled forehead
of greys floating down paisley pajamas
of fluorescent flickers against translucent skin.
And just be
because they can no longer.
Rather than get lost in the semantic battle of defining disciplines (What is/are the digital humanities?), this presentation explores how we as humanists can use data to help us think through our humanities questions, evidence, and argument. Drawing from ‘digital’ and ‘data science’ methods of experimental design and operationalizing, I shared my data science project on the library of congress collection of Vietnamese materials.
Video of presentation
This talk was part of the “Texts as Data—Data as Texts” Seminar and Workshop at Yonsei University in Seoul on January 12, 2017.
The map interface for searching materials. The Vietnam Project MSU Archive
While writing about my data science course at the School of Information in the spring of 2016, I realized that I needed a long preface to explain why it was that a historian of Vietnam was using computational methods in their research. My long engagement with the world of ‘tech’ has become less of a dabbling and more of a blurry (exciting) amalgamation where all of my work in history, digital humanities, quantitative methods, data science, and information science have converged.
Bowker, Geoffrey C., and Susan Leigh Star. Sorting Things out: Classification and Its Consequences. Inside Technology. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1999.
“To classify is human”
Geoffrey Bowker and Susan Leigh Star undertake the challenging and encompassing topic of ‘classification’ in Classification and Its Consequences. The authors argue the that 1) classification is a ubiquitous human activity (“human artifacts”) and 2) the consequences of classificatory architecture influence and ‘torque’ human lives politically, socially, linguistically, and cognitively. The authors provide investigate infrastructure of classification schemes in the medical and social realm such as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), the Nursing Intervention Classification (NIC), and racial classification in South Africa.
Hue-Tam Ho Tai. Millenarianism and Peasant Politics in Vietnam. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983.
Hue-Tam Ho Tai examines the history of the millenarian tradition Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương (Strange Fragrance from the Precious Mountain)—a collection of Sino-Vietnamese folk religion (mystical currents of Zen, White Lotus, popular Taoism) in the spiritually and ethnically diverse Western Nam Bo Khmer-Viet frontier in 1849 (appearance of Buddha Master) to 1975 (Communist takeover of the South). Ho Tai makes two primary arguments: 1) The foundation of the Hoa Hao sect by Huynh Phu So in 1939 was the modern embodiment and adaptation of the Bửu Sơn Kỳ Hương to profound change in the colonial period. 2) The Hoa Hao was a competing ideology of change to Communist revolution and traces its progression and limitations as a movement. (In the 1940s, the Hoa Hao united the sects of the western Delta into a theocratic state, and offered itself as an institutional, military, alternative society to Vietminh communist power.)
Below is an annotated bibliography of part of my reading list with Professor Janaki Bakhle, titled ‘Colonial Studies: Power and Knowledge.” This reading list focuses on agents and institutions of colonial knowledge and is framed by the following commentary:
“Colonial conquest was not just the result of the power of superior arms, military organization, political power, or economic wealth—as important as these things were. Colonialism was made possible, and then sustained and strengthened, as much by cultural technologies of rule as it was by the more obvious and brutal modes of conquest that first established power on foreign shores. The cu1tural effects of colonialism have too often been ignored or displaced into the inevitable logic of modernization and world capitalism; but more than this, it has not been sufficiently recognized that colonialism was itself a cultural project of control. Colonial knowledge both enabled conquest and was produced by it; in certain important ways, knowledge was what colonialism was all about.”
Nicholas Dirks forward to Bernard Cohn, Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge (1996)