Black History Month at DDH

Update: Video for all three events is now available at the following links:


We’re delighted to announce a series of three events for Black History Month in the Department of Digital Humanities. Please note that separate registration is required for each event.

Black British Digital Studies

Join us for a conversation between Dr. Francesca Sobande, Rianna Walcott, and Keisha Bruce about their research in Black British Digital Humanities, Francesca’s latest book, the Digital Lives of Black Women in Britain, and their experiences as Black British scholars.

When: Tuesday, 27th October 2020, 5:00-6:30 pm GMT

Register: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/black-british-digital-studies

Dr. Francesca Sobande is a lecturer in digital media studies at the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University. She is Course Director of the BA Media, Journalism and Culture programme and is an affiliate of the Data Justice Lab. Francesca’s work focuses on digital culture, Black diaspora, feminism, creative work, and the experiences of Black women. She is author of The Digital Lives of Black Women in Britain (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) and is co-editor with Professor Akwugo Emejulu of To Exist is To Resist: Black Feminism in Europe (Pluto Press, 2019). Francesca tweets at @chess_ess and more about her work can be found at francescasobande.com.

Rianna Walcott (she/her) is an LAHP-funded PhD candidate at Kings College London researching Black women’s identity formation in digital spaces, and a graduate twiceover from the University of Edinburgh. She co-founded projectmyopia.com , a website that promotes inclusivity in academia and a decolonised curriculum. She frequently writes about feminism, mental health, race and literature for publications including The Wellcome Collection, The Metro, The Guardian, The BBC, Vice, and Dazed . Rianna is co-editor of an anthology about BAME mental health – The Colour of Madness , and in the time left over she moonlights as a professional jazz singer. Rianna tweets at @rianna_walcott and more about her work can be found at riannawalcott.com.

Keisha Bruce is a Midlands4Cities-funded PhD researcher in Black Studies at the University of Nottingham. Her research interests include Black popular culture, diasporic visual cultures, and digital media representations. Her PhD thesis explores Black women’s digital visual cultures on social media with a particular focus on how identity is mediated, and diasporic community is fostered online through processes of visuality and affect. Outside of her thesis she is currently undergoing an archiving project on Black girlhood in Britain. You can find her on Twitter at @keishastweets.

Black Joy on Black Twitter: An In-Conversation with André Brock

As we continue to endure the privations forced upon us by the pandemic and various government responses thereto, it is important to locate sources of joy. Writing about Black cyberculture often revolves around oppression, resistance, labor, or consumption. Brock, however, argues that Black digital practice’s deviation from technocultural practice and desire can be understood as a feature, not a bug. He proposes that Black Twitter, in particular, offers a space for Black joy to originate, participate, and conversate, leading to surplus libidinal, communal, and political energies powering movements such as Black Lives Matter. Rianna Walcott will discuss how she uses Brock’s perspectives in her research on Black British digital cultures.

When: Wednesday, 28th October 2020, 5:00-6:30 pm GMT

Register: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/blackjoy

André L. Brock is an Associate Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at Georgia Tech. He is an interdisciplinary scholar with an M.A. in English and Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University and a Ph.D. in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His scholarship includes published articles on racial representations in videogames, black women and weblogs, whiteness, blackness, and digital technoculture, as well as groundbreaking research on Black Twitter. His article “From the Blackhand Side: Twitter as a Cultural Conversation” challenged social science and communication research to confront the ways in which the field preserved “a color-blind perspective on online endeavors by normalizing Whiteness and othering everyone else” and sparked a conversation that continues, as Twitter, in particular, continues to evolve. His most recent book is Distributed Blackness: African American Technocultures, published by NYU Press. You can find him on Twitter at @DocDre.

Black Speculative Fiction

Like many parts of our lives, the cultural artifacts that shape our imaginations – films, books, and so on – are shaped by relationships of race. Join us for a free-wheeling conversation between Black speculative fiction authors, Hamza Mohamed and Ayize Jama-Everett, for an exploration of the role and importance of Black voices in shaping our collective imaginations of the present, and possible futures.

When: Saturday, 31st October 2020, 5:30-6:30 pm GMT

Register: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/blackspeculativefiction

Hamza Mohamed launched his own publishing imprint, Wings of Crows in the beginning of 2020 with his debut novel Abeed: Dreams of a Lost Nation, the first of a trilogy. His work weaves stories from East Africa and it’s diasporas. With Wing of Crows, Hamza hopes to build a platform for Black writers as well put an emphasis on Black protagonists in fiction. You can find him on Twitter @HajimeNoHamza.

Ayize Jama-Everett was born in 1974 in Harlem New York. He holds three Master’s degrees (Divinity, Psychology, and creative writing), and has worked as a bookseller, professor, and therapist. He desires to create stories that people want to read, and he believes the narratives of our times dictate future realities. Three of his books have been published by Small Beer Press – The Liminal series – with another on the way.  He’s published a  graphic novel with noted artist John Jennings, entitled The Box of Bones, and a graphic novel adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo is forthcoming from Abrams Press. Shorter works can be found in The Believer, LA review of books, and Racebaitr. You can find him on Twitter @AyizeJamaEveret.

Department of Digital Humanities contributes to world-leading research on data/AI as part of new UKRI National Research Centre on Privacy, Harm Reduction and Adversarial Influence Online

The Department of Digital Humanities is bringing its world-leading research on the social and political dimensions of data and AI to a newly established national Research Centre on Privacy, Harm Reduction and Adversarial Influence Online (REPHRAIN).

The centre brings together more than 50 leading academics with industry, non-profit, government, law, regulation and international research centre partners. The aim is to identify and reduce the threat of harm from loss of privacy, insecurity, inaccurate information and other issues that have emerged as the digital economy has grown.

King’s will be jointly leading two strands of the work, on minimising harms while maximising benefits from a sharing-driven digital economy; and balancing individual agency and social good.

Dr Mark Coté, Senior Lecturer in Data Culture and Society at the Department of Digital Humanities and a PI for the new centre comments:

REPHRAIN will allow us to continue our world-leading cross disciplinary research on the social dimensions of data and AI. The Departments of Digital Humanities and Informatics look forward to collaborating with leading researchers across the UK to make our digital lives not only more safe, but empowered.”
Further details can be found in announcements here (KCL) and here (UKRI).

Job: Lecturer in Digital Culture and Media Education

The Department of Digital Humanities is seeking to appoint a permanent Lecturer (Academic Education Pathway) to contribute to our teaching in the area of digital culture and society. The post-holder will have a sound knowledge of the theories, key concepts, and methods providing expertise in areas within this domain, and will be expected to develop it. As a non-exhaustive list of examples, we are interested in all aspects of digital culture and media, and especially in expertise regarding platform and app studies, algorithm studies, smart cities, digital health, ethnography, anthropology, and digital methods, data analysis, dataveillance, digital inclusion and exclusion, as well as in online teaching.

We are looking for a range of expertise to support our fast expanding five postgraduate programmes – in particular on the MA Digital Culture and Society – and on the BA Digital Culture. Candidates will be expected to provide high quality teaching across all levels, including undergraduate, Masters, and PhD, to supervise undergraduate and graduate student dissertations, and to keep abreast of the latest scholarship in their field. Candidates will be striving to become scholars of national and international standing.

The post holder will complement existing teaching in the Department and offer students new opportunities in their studies of digital society and culture. She/he will support student specialisation in their own area. The successful applicant will also be expected, within reason, to teach outside their own immediate area of expertise.

The successful candidate will also undertake pastoral duties including personal tutoring and administrative duties linked to Departmental, Faculty and University administration.

Candidates will contribute to the life and reputation of the Department, the Faculty, and the College through taking on an appropriate administrative role, contributing to internal networks and collaborations, taking part in external national and international activities, and undertaking industry and public engagement where appropriate.

This role is based at King’s Strand Campus in London, and the post holder will be expected to offer a blended package of learning, both online and face to face.

Interviews are expected to be held in the week commencing 2 November 2020.

Full-time – 35 hours per week

Contract – indefinite

Full details and application link can be found here.

Joint Statement on Humanist

In early August a post commenting on an essay by the writer Khalid Warsame, was circulated to the recipients of the Humanist email list. This post referred to Warsame’s alleged beliefs about British colonial guilt and made direct reference to ‘casual anti-white racism’. Several members of the list responded to condemn the use of this term, including a researcher and colleague in DDH. We understand that the forum editor and moderator chose not to publish two of these responses, a decision which is not in line with the behaviours and guiding principles we in the Department of Digital Humanities (DDH) and King’s Digital Lab (KDL) expect. We are therefore disappointed that these standards and values were not maintained on this occasion. We will ensure this is not repeated. The moderator has since posted an apology on Humanist, admitting that the decision to censor the responses was “mistaken” and subsequently released a number of the responses.

As a community, we are committed to freedom of academic expression, and, most importantly, to the principle of empowering individuals of all backgrounds and levels of seniority to have their voices heard. We are acutely aware of the central role that the study of race and inequality, and the decolonization agenda, play as core parts of the contemporary Digital Humanities, and we are proud to have some of the world’s leading researchers in these areas among our community. We fully support the recent statement of the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (ADHO) – of which Humanist is an allied publication – on Black Lives Matter, Structural Racism and Establishment Violence, and the associated nine action points. We recognize there is inequality and racism around us and our community; and that some of this racism has been normalized and perpetuated in academic practice. As a university dedicated to academic, educational and research excellence, addressing issues of race and fighting racism, racialisms, and racial inequality are central to the university’s mission of ensuring our students receive the highest quality education, and that they, our staff and partners are supported to thrive while serving society and making the world a better place.

We will continue to take steps in the longer-term discussion about decolonizing the Digital Humanities and acknowledging the persistence of structural racism. As we reflect on this, we hope that we can all collectively learn how to be better practitioners and allies in the fight against racism and support our BAME students and colleagues.

Two lectureships to support teaching in the field of Digital Economy at DDH

The Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London is looking for two permanent Lecturers (Academic Education Pathway) to support our online and on-campus teaching on our fast growing MA programmes. The openings are for a Lecturer in Digital Entrepreneurship and Marketing Education and a Lecturer in Digital Economy and Society Education to support our successful MA programmes like the MA in Digital Asset and Media Management and the M. Sc. in Digital Economy as well as our undergraduate programme.

Lecturer candidates will have a track record of providing high-quality teaching and supervision, and know how to work collaboratively. They are on their way to becoming scholars of national and international standing with a trajectory that illustrates this ambition. The Department’s research-led teaching profits from its exciting research projects valued at some £8m as well as from close collaborations with a wide variety of London-based and international organisations and institutions.

We are seeking to recruit exceptional candidates to join the Department no later than 14th of September, who can enthuse and inspire our students and contribute to the life and reputation of the Department through academic leadership and public engagement. The department has a diverse student community of international graduate students, undergraduates and PhD students exploring the role of digital technology in society from a variety of different perspectives. This includes our BA in Digital Culture, MA Programmes in Digital Asset & Media Management, MA in Big Data in Culture & Society, MA in Digital Culture & Society and the new M. Sc. Digital Economy as well as MA/PhD research degrees in Digital Humanities.

The Department particularly welcomes applications from women and black and minority ethnic candidates. Further details are available here (Lecturer in Digital Entrepreneurship and Marketing) and here (Lecturer in Digital Economy and Society). If you have any questions regarding the posts please email stuart.dunn@kcl.ac.uk.

Closing Date of Job Ad: 23 August 2020
Interviews are planned between the 7-9 September 2020
Start date: 14 September 2020

Recruiting participants for survey study on public perceptions of immunity during Covid-19 pandemic

Dr Btihaj Ajana, Reader in Media and Digital Culture at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, would like to invite you to take part in this survey study on immunity in the context of Covid-19.
The purpose of this study is to examine public perceptions and understanding of “immunity” during Covid-19 pandemic and how these influence behaviour and acceptance or rejection of protective measures such as lockdown, social distancing, self-isolation, mask wearing, and Contact Tracing Apps.
We are recruiting adults (18 +) to complete a short survey on this topic. The survey takes approximately 10 mins to complete and your responses will remain confidential.

 To take part, please follow this link: https://kclbs.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bBkSpkE1v5dhtiZ

 

Creative AI Lab launches creative AI tools & resources database

We are excited to launch a Creative AI Tools & Resources Database as one of the outcomes of the Creative AI Lab, a collaboration of the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London with the Serpentine.

The Creative AI Lab serves artists, art institutions, technologists and digital scholars in exploring practices around new AI technologies such as deep neural networks and machine learning. Its aim is to encourage critical engagements with ​AI, in particular with deep learning,​ which has become by now a technology that is set to shape human development over the next century.

The work of the Creative AI Lab, which is led by Mercedes Bunz (Digital Humanities, KCL) and Eva Jäger (Serpentine) includes a growing Creative AI Tools & Resources Database which you can find here, a series of research workshops (like this one), and forthcoming papers as well as a series of online tutorials which will surface AI/ML infrastructures by exploring their interfaces.

The project is supported by funding from the AHRC and by a LAHP funded PhD scholarship starting in October and held by Alasdair Milne. As a collaborative research initiative, it brings together knowledge and expertise from different cultural institutions and practitioners inquiring how the arts can contribute to this emerging field.

Visit our newly launched website and resource data base here. 

Worldmaking in the Time of Covid-19

The project Language Acts and Worldmaking, funded by the Art and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) under its Open World Research Initiative (OWRI), has been awarded funding by King’s College London’s King’s Together Coronavirus Rapid Response fund, for its proposal, ‘Worldmaking in the Time of Covid-19‘. ‘Worldmaking in the Time of Covid-19’ seeks to analyse the ways in which COVID-19 has been narrated across the world. We are currently data mining news items from English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, Russian, Hebrew, Korean, Japanese, Mandarin and Arabic speaking countries, and momentarily using digital tools to compare and analyse how the pandemic has been narrated. The project provides valuable insights into the global narrative of COVID-19.

 ________________________________________________________

On 31 Dec 2019 the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, China, reported a cluster of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei Province. Since then, the media have followed every step of this journey. From the time the virus was first identified (SARS-CoV-2) to the time the disease was named (COVID-19), specific codes played a central role in how the pandemic was narrated.

Science journalism is a Newsbeat that traditionally acts as an arena for creating meaning and offering scientific and technical knowledge that contributes to the debate and criticism of the information that is being disseminated and made available to the public.

At its heart, science journalism is largely about translation —the translation from one language to itself; of otherwise jargon-heavy language into digestible bite-size information to the lay public, allowing them to make informed decisions. Thus, in responding to the question of COVID-19, understanding the language in the news is essential for understanding the world around us and is particularly important in the communication of health threats and the perception of risks.

We seek to examine how Language, as the central medium for transcultural knowledge and the fundamental player in a globalised society, is being used to articulate narratives and shape discourses around the COVID-19 pandemic in the newsroom. As agents of worldmaking, news media have a specific role to play in the formation of theoretical collectives (Neumann and Zierold, 2010), as well as the dissemination of news and opinions. And the current pandemic has been an interesting case study: it is global, politicised, and almost omnipresent.

From Fake News to strain on the political and administrative authorities, it has affected a wide range of news items well beyond its scientific knowledge. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has not been treated the same around the world, and therefore it has not been narrated the same. The multiple languages of the pandemic have revealed novelties: they have expanded our lexicon with new expressions such as the Covidiota (Portuguese), Covidengue (Spanish), Dracula coughDracula sneeze (English), Hamsterkauf (German) or On-nomi (Japanese). The media has been an inexorable source of neologism and new expressions.

But they have also allowed for politicians to frequently speak of the pandemic in words and phrases that underestimated the situation in the world. The president of Brazil, for example, said that Covid-19 was nothing more than a “little cold“; while in the US, Donald Trump recurrently called the coronavirus the “Chinese virus“.

Language is not neutral. Language has a worldmaking power (Goodman, 1978) that shapes how we see the world, and consequently, hateful language can spread fear and anger. It is, therefore, necessary to consider the implications of particular associations with this disease. For example, the symbolic association of the “Chinese virus” is different from that of COVID-19. It has consequences on a social and political level, as is evident from various violent attacks on Chinese or Asian-looking individuals as we have seen in this country.

The news media provides insights into the current pandemic. They offer access to pertinent and comprehensive information, giving people different aspects of this virus crisis through their very specific lenses. As a mediator, they are also exposing possible discoveries that may change society and the way it exists.

“Language Acts and Worldmaking is uniquely placed to offer significant insights into its global narration”. We are working with a multi-disciplinary team to engage scholarship in Modern Languages, Digital Humanities, Linguistics and History, and to examine how COVID-19 has been told in the world.

[Updated with recording] 2020 LOATHING: Digital Tensions, Fragmentations and Polarisations – Friday 26th June

The following post is from Roy Cobby, 1st Year MPhil/PhD Student at the Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London.

The full video for the conference is now available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51Imzjpxwc8&feature=youtu.be

You can also access a booklet summarising the panels here: http://newperspectivesdh.com/index.php/recording/

The PhD Conference at the Department of Digital Humanities in King’s College London is a yearly opportunity for research students at the department to gain experience in event organising. Our proposed title was 2020 LOATHING: Digital Tensions, Fragmentations and Polarisations, as we wished to reflect what we perceived as a certain tiredness and cynicism with the so-called “digital revolution”. Any optimism of the high globalisation era has been replaced today with the social tensions, economic fragmentations and political polarisations caused or at least accelerated by the digital transformation. While further thematic details were still being finalised, the realities of confinement made us postpone it, without really knowing when or where we would be able to hold the conference.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, we decided that it would be a missed opportunity not to hold a conference this year. Aware of current limitations, we still believe that it is important to discuss ongoing digital transformations. If anything, the circumstances of working from home, online teaching and other adaptations have relied more than ever on the growing public and private digital infrastructure. Plus, proposed solutions are more or less connected to tech dreams and projects, from tracking apps to virtual health assessments. If recent financial information is to be believed, it is precisely those firms (GAFA) operating in the online space which are benefiting the most from the new reality.

We are very thankful for the involvement of KCL Digital Humanities Department, including Dr Mark Coté (who really helped us shape the conference, offline and online), and Drs Mercedes Bunz and Ashwin J Mathew, who will take part in the panels to provide comments on the lead panellists presentations. Following the truly international spirit of King’s and DDH, we were also happy to welcome Dr Rodrigo Firmino, from PUCPR Brazil.

2020 Loathing Conference programme