F20 Black Atlantic: Resources, Pedagogy, and Scholarship on the 18th Century Black Atlantic

Whose Voice Matters? : The Exclusion of Indigenous People in the Digital Cannon

Research is essential to the academic; however, researchers should be aware of scholarship that negates indigenous voices in academia. Specifically, in digital humanities, researchers should consider how imperialistic voices impact history, economics, sociology, and politics. Academics must acknowledge how narrow the digital cannon is and its impact on researchers. Smith’s “Imperialism, History, Writing, and Theory” helps to consider whose voice matters. This is important for research because researchers have access to a great deal of scholarship that may not be beneficial to indigenous voices. For my research project, I am considering the ways in which indigenous voices have been silenced through time. Specifically, I am considering how colonial powers impact early indigenous Caribbean voices through literature.  

The Early Caribbean Digital Archive is a project which entails pre-twentieth-century Caribbean resources such as diaries, histories, and narratives. Transcripts of a slave-ad, an account of the slave trade, and a runaway slave ad can show whose voices are centered. We see the description of such traumatic events from the colonizer. However, narratives such as The Adventures of Mr. George, A Creole may offer a lens of pre-twentieth-century colonized Caribbean life. I am also interested in the Obeah: Magical Art of Resistance exhibit, which shows indigenous Caribbean voices. Particularly, I am interested in differences in gender performance for the obeah practitioner.

For further research, I see Earhart’s “Can Information Be Unfettered? Race and the New Digital Humanities Canon” as a useful tool to understand how many non-canonical texts are not being digitized. This becomes a problem during research because the canonical bias impacts the availability of text. Canonical bias could impact the availability of early Caribbean narratives on digital platforms. In another text, Earhart and Taylor continue to critique the digital cannon and argue that social media sites, such as Twitter, should be considered when locating the “voices, spaces and places where African American contributions have been most actively present” (Earhart and Taylor). Twitter helped spread information regarding people color brutalized by the police. Those with canonical bias possibly avoid these digital artifacts because it shows real-world people speaking real-world languages to disrupt systems of oppression. Particularly, this can be of use for post-colonial Caribbean digital voices to show the impact of pre-twentieth- century colonialism.

I also want to focus on gender and race in pre-twentieth-century Caribbean life.  How does race and gender impact indigenous voices? Specifically, how does race and gender impact indigenous voices of the past? Margo Hendricks “Coloring the Past, Rewriting Our Future: RaceB4 Race” discusses the difference between premodern race studies and premodern critical race studies. Hendricks explains that premodern race studies ignore indigenous voices. She asserts, “PRS fails to acknowledge the scholarly ancestry (the genealogy) that continues to inhabit and nurture the critical process for the study of premodern race” (Hendricks). This becomes important when doing a study on race and gender in pre-twentieth century Caribbean life.  Hendricks askes researchers to use premodern critical race studies because this theory decenters whiteness and acknowledges indigenous ancestry. Also, “It recognizes the analytical gaze’s capacity to define the premodern as a multiethnic system of competing sovereignties” (Hendricks). Most importantly, PCRS centered research challenges researchers to critically assess scholarship. Therefore, PCRS can help with framing my research on gender and race in pre-twentieth-century life.


This page has paths:

This page has replies: