The Digital Humanities Alliance of India Conference 2018—jointly organized by IIM Indore and IIT Indore commenced on June 01 at IIM Indore. DHAI is an initiative toward organizing and facilitating digital practices in arts and humanities scholarship in India, both within and beyond academic institutes. The two day conference would see participation from more than 50 national and international delegates.
The inauguration of the conference took place with the lamp lighting ceremony by Professor Paul Arthur, Professor Paul Arthur, Chair, Digital Humanities and Director, Global Studies Centre, Edith Cowan University, Perth Australia; Ms. P. P. Sneha, Digital Humanities Practitioner, Centre for Internet and Society (CIS), Bengaluru; Professor Nirmala Menon, Department of Humanities and Social Science, IIT Indore; Professor Rishikesha T. Krishnan, Director, IIM Indore and Professor Ashok Thorat, Institute of Advanced Studies in English, Pune.
Professor Dibyadyuti Roy, Conference Coordinator & Faculty, IIM Indore welcomed the guests and the participants. He thanked IIM Indore and IIT Indore members for coming together and being supportive in organizing the event. He also discussed about what digital humanities is, and how it is affecting our lives. Professor Krishnan while addressing the gathering noted that Indore being the city with both IIT and IIM helps the institutions to come together and organize various events—however this is the first time both the institutes have come together to organize an academic event at a huge level. He welcomed the delegates and believed the conference to be a productive one.
Professor Nirmala Menon also interacted with the gathering and shared how DHAI came into existence. She noted that there are many scholars, faculty members and researchers working in this field and have come together to give this association an official format.
This was followed by the first keynote address of the conference by Professor Paul Arthur. He spoke on the topic—‘The Tyranny of the Digital: Being Human in the Digital Age’. He began his talk discussing about how technology has evolved in past few decades and how the digital age affects our daily lives. Sharing insights about how digital age transformed since the historical times till today, Professor Arthur noted what it means to be a human in this digital age. ‘The technology has changed with time from the invention of computers-internet-smartphones—and we as humans are now absorbing these transformations. Today we can easily access various services and facilities with a tap on any app—and this is now considered ‘normal’ in the modern global world’, he said. He also discussed about social media and how it has created digital communities—leading to mass communication and convenient connectivity. ‘Digital world has also evolved other fields and their work patterns, be it medical, automobile, etc. Digital humanities not only help in better lifestyle, but also in better understanding of problems, finding solutions, being a better human being and a better citizen’, he concluded.
This was followed by three panel discussions round the day. The topics for panel discussions were Digital Humanities and Social Justice in India; Lived, Perceived and Conceived Digital Spaces and Digital Pedagogies, New Media Literacies and Scholarly Publishing. The panel discussions included eminent speakers from colleges across India and abroad.
The day concluded with a keynote address delivered by Prof. Chaz Evans on the topic Fidelities of Context in Global Video Game Production. He discussed about the famous video game ‘Overwatch’ and its characters. He noted that although the game apparently shows diversity of cultures with characters from different nations and occupations, it does this only for profit. The game doesn’t celebrate diversity as political progress but normalizes marginalized perspectives.