How might an ethnography of the digital, as an external space of embodiment, complicate our understandings of how people come to interact with various nexuses of spaces? How is embodiment within an analog setting different from that of a digital one? How does COVID-19 energize digital spaces and the digital humanities as a whole?

This working group takes up the above questions of embodiment and virtual intimacies while also contending with existing tensions in affect and emotion studies. Scholars invested in affect/emotion, the body, sound, ethnography, and digital connectivity would contribute and benefit from the discussions that will take place, as well as thinkers grappling with abstracted field sites and the challenge of paying attention to the senses and interaction during this age of social distancing. Ultimately, this working group is a place where discourse takes place but could also be where new scholarship is produced or curated. The texts we will be considering and analyzing will go beyond the written word. The body of work we will be discussing will draw on studies of emotion and affect, Black digital humanistic discourse, as well as information technology studies.

Readings may include:

  • Virtual Intimacies by Shaka McGlotten (2013)
  • The Cultural Politics of Emotion by Sarah Ahmed (2004)
  • “Digital Epidermalization: Race, Identity, and Biometrics” by Simone Browne (2010)
  • Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin (2019)
  • “Markup Bodies: Black [Life] Studies and Slavery [Death] Studies at the Digital Crossroads” by Jessica Johnson
  • Distributed Blackness by Andre Brock Jr. 

This working group will serve as a collaborative space amongst graduate students, junior faculty, and senior faculty, and is open to curious scholars at neighboring universities. We will meet monthly (virtually) for two hours on the second Wednesday of each month.

The group is organized by ACLS Emerging Voices Fellow and LifexCode: Digital Humanities Against Enclosure member Dr. Sarah Bruno and is sponsored by the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University.

For more information on this working group or to join, please email Dr. Sarah Bruno.