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Update on ADHO Activities 2020-2021

The past year, fraught with so many challenges for our international community, has been one of building and rebuilding for ADHO. While we met virtually and largely asynchronously for DH2020 instead of gathering as we had so carefully planned in Ottawa, we have greatly missed the sharing of scholarship and fellowship that a 2021 DH conference would have brought. However, we acknowledged early in the year that health and safety restrictions would have made an international DH conference impossible in 2021. Instead, we are supporting regional conferences hosted by our Constituent Organizations and are looking forward to the meeting the Program Committee and our colleagues in Tokyo are planning for DH2022. Announcements about this conference are forthcoming in fall 2021, and we recently accepted nominations for the Antonio Zampolli Prize (honoring a single output in Digital Humanities to be awarded at DH2022.

ADHO Community

Mourning Stéfan Sinclair, Roy Wisbey, Rebecca Munson, and Scott Enderle

First and foremost, we mourned the losses of Stéfan Sinclair, Roy Wisbey, Rebecca Munson, and Scott Enderle.

Stéfan was an active supporter and engaged leader in ADHO and CSDH/SCHN. Scholars and students around the world have benefitted from Voyant Tools, a platform Stéfan co-created with Geoffrey Rockwell.

Roy co-founded the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing (ALLC now EADH, and played a key role in the development of Digital Humanities at King’s College London. With his wife Erni, Roy built an archive of machine-readable texts of medieval German literature that was later accessioned by such institutions as the Oxford Text Archive.

Rebecca was Assistant Director for Interdisciplinary Education at the Center for Digital Humanities at Princeton University. She was also a literary scholar with a focus on Shakespeare and early modern dramatists. Rebecca founded and directed Common Readers, a digital initiative dedicated to gathering and analyzing annotations in early modern play texts through a custom-designed relational database.

Scott was most recently the Digital Humanities Specialist in Penn Libraries and the Price Lab for Digital Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania. Scott received his PhD in English from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011, focusing on eighteenth-century British literature and the history of copyright law. He was an active software developer, creating new technologies for textual analysis using methods from statistics and machine learning.

New Constituent Organizations

In June 2021, Der Verband Digital Humanities im deutschsprachigen Raum (DHd) joined ADHO as a Constituent Organization (CO and Women and Gender Minorities in Digital Humanities (DH-WoGeM) and DHTech became Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Other proposals for COs and SIGs are currently being considered.

Our COs have persisted in their work this year in a variety of ways, most notably through their virtual conferences, which are bringing together digital humanists from around the world. Although the pandemic has confined our international activities, domestic or regional educational seminars and workshops remain active. For instance, the seminars on Digital Literacy for the Humanities of JADH, and TADH continued to offer workshops for DocuSky, which is a platform for Digital Humanities studies focusing on Chinese texts.

ADHO SIGs have also continued their work while acknowledging and honoring the limits placed on many of their organizers and members by the medical, social, and political pandemics of 2020. Their events and initiatives have included Around DH 2020, Open/Social/Digital Humanities Pedagogy, Training, and Mentorship, 2021 Digital Humanities Summer Institute, 4th ACM SIGSPATIAL International Workshop on Geospatial Humanities, AudiAnnotate Workshop, and Tool Criticism 3.0. For the next year, SIGs are planning individual as well as common activities. Browse the SIG websites, sign up for SIG mailing lists, or follow them on Social Media to find out more about their activities.

Journals affiliated with ADHO continued their work in 2020-21 with special issues covering Digital Humanities & Colonial Latin American Studies and AudioVisual Data in DHlabor, collaboration, pedagogy, curriculum, and text modelsartificial intelligence, language, and literature. In addition, Humanistica’s Humanités numériques published its third volume, “Humanités numériques spatialisées;” the Journal of JADH released a special issue on Buddhism and TechnologyJournal of Digital Archives and Digital Humanities published articles on topics ranging from social network analysis, authorship, and poetry to literature, history, and infrastructure. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities also released its first-ever bilingual issue, “Digital Humanities 2018: Puentes/Bridges”, edited by DH2018 Program Committee Co-Chairs Élika Ortega and Glen Worthey and Local Organizer Ernesto Priani, followed this month by the DH2019 supplement, open to all, ‘Digital Humanities 2019: Complexities,’ edited by DH2019 Program Committee Co-Chairs Elena Pierazzo and Fabio Ciotti with Hugo Quené.

Internal Activities

Within ADHO’s leadership, we are continuing to implement our governance changes, which has involved everything from reconfiguring the Executive Board’s (EB’s) day-to-day procedures to the Constituent Organization Board’s (COB’s) adopting new policies as we change not only how ADHO operates but how we engage with digital humanities communities around the world. A significant part of this work involves our commitment to address structural racism, a process that is ongoing and extends to all of our committees and initiatives.

Our first commitment involved engaging a paid external consultant to assess issues of structural racism in connection with ADHO’s various activities. In fall 2020, we announced a request for proposals and in early 2021 reviewed one submission. This process proved an extremely valuable exercise. The COB opted not to engage the consultant in favor of prioritizing our second commitment, creating an external task force to guide the review process, including whether and how to engage a consultant. To this end, the COB is forming an anti-structural-racism working group who will invite members of the broader DH community to form a task force to initiate a broader conversation beyond the EB/COB and help decide how best to use funds for external expertise or assistance. The working group includes Susan Brown (CSDH/SCHN representative and COB President-Elect Kathleen Fitzpatrick (ACH representative Isabel Galina (RedHD representative and COB President Fatiha Idmhand (Humanistica representative Hannah Jacobs (Communications Officer and Cecily Raynor (Multi-lingualism & Multi-culturalism Committee Chair). Further information about the task force will be forthcoming in fall 2021.

Our committees have also dedicated much of their time to implementing governance changes and addressing challenges and opportunities surfaced by the pandemic:

The Admissions Committee, co-chaired by Paul Arthur and Martin Grandjean, is working to revise the admissions protocol in response to a number of issues that ADHO faces as we continue to grow, including a changing financial model, whether and how to handle individual joint memberships between COs, and clarifying definitions of “constituent organizations,” “affiliated organizations,” and “special interest groups.”

The Awards Committee is restructuring itself to better support the nomination and review process for each ADHO award. Going forward, separate subcommittees will be appointed to manage the very different sets of tasks involved with the annual conference attendee awards and the occasional professional and lifetime awards; a third subcommittee will aim to adapt committee processes to meet ADHO’s current goals of virtual conferencing and multicultural diversity. Micki Kaufman is generously continuing in her role as Awards Committee Chair, coordinating between the subcommittees.

The Conference Coordinating Committee (CCC) continues to facilitate the DH conference, coordinating with program committees and local organizers for DH2022 and DH2023, and planning for a call for bids to host DH2024. The CCC now comprises a Chair (Diane Jakacki Chair-Elect (Michael Sinatra and a newly-elected Adjunct Chair-Elect (Miriam Peña).

The Communications Team is composed of Communications Officer Hannah Jacobs and two Communications Fellows. In 2020, the Fellows were Nabeel Siddiqui and Mariana Zorkina. Along with their weekly social media and content management activities, Nabeel and Mariana supported the virtual DH2020 conference and worked with Hannah to develop a new policy that clarifies the team’s work and meets commitment 6 of ADHO’s anti-racism statement, to create social media policies and procedures that ensure inclusive representation. The 2021 Fellows Anna Sofia Lippolis and Erdal Ayan are implementing these policies in their work through content management and social media analysis, and are assisting with the creation of new communications channels, including a newsletter and/or email list and a podcast, details to be announced later in 2021.

The Communications Team is also partnering with the Infrastructure Committee and the Multi-lingualism & Multi-culturalism Committee (MLMC) to update ADHO’s website, a project long in the making. Our goal is to be able to share content in multiple languages while also supporting a broader community of multilingual content managers and updating the site’s usability and accessibility.

The Infrastructure Committee, chaired by Simon Wiles and supported by Systems Administrator John Cheng, has been supporting a number of ADHO and CO activities with a focus on long-term sustainability and maintainability. In addition to assessing current server infrastructure, the committee has continued to expand its use of GitHub to support various projects and has begun to convert prior conference websites, when available, to static sites for long term preservation. The committee has also redeployed websites such as Digital Humanities Abstracts, supported instances of DHConvalidator and CiviCRM for ADHO as well as for its COs, and created a Dashboard for monitoring the various ADHO-supported websites. Most importantly, Simon and John have responded to a number of security issues among websites and email lists, keeping disruptions to a minimum.

The MLMC, now chaired by Cecily Raynor, develops and promotes policies in ADHO and its COs designed to help us become more linguistically and culturally inclusive. The MLMC plays a key role in meeting the commitments outlined in our anti-racism statement. In addition to pursuing possibilities for ADHO’s website translation, the committee is developing initiatives to promote multilingualism and multiculturalism at future conferences in coordination with the CCC and current and past Program Committee chairs.

Part of the COB, ADHO’s SIG Liaison Berenike Herrmann coordinates among the SIG conveners, encouraging connectivity and advocating for SIGs with ADHO leadership. SIGs are open to any member of an ADHO-CO. Notably, SIGs can now apply for ADHO funding to engage in time-limited projects. To allocate the funding, the SIG conveners are working to establish application and review procedures, as well as guidelines for fundable projects.

The EB continues to manage activities concerning our anti-racism commitments in consultation with the COB, and in general to enact its policy and strategy decisions. The EB and COB officer cohort has undergone its annual rotation, with the successful completion of Elisabeth Burr’s one-year term as COB President (and Isabel Galina’s resumption of those duties and with the end of Leif Isaksen’s two-year term as inaugural EB Chair (and Glen Worthey’s assumption of those duties). Susan Brown (CSDHSCHN) has been voted COB President-Elect, and Fatiha Idmhand (Humanistica) has been voted the COB Secretary following Claude Willand’s (CenterNet) service as a COB representative and secretary. Joining the COB are Fabio Ciotti (EADH Fatiha Idmhand (Humanistica Nirmala Menon (centerNet and Evelyn Gius (DHd). Fabio Ciotti replaces Elisabeth Burr, and Fatiha Idmhand replaces Martin Grandjean as CO representatives. Currently, ADHO’s COB conducts most of its work via email with complementary virtual meetings and one annual meeting with the EB and Committee Chairs. The EB meets biweekly, with Committee Chairs joining these meetings monthly. We use Google Drive for internal document editing and sharing.

The COB has also elected new members to the EB: Scott Weingart, who is beginning a term as Deputy Treasurer, and Diane Jakacki as EB Chair-Elect, who is also currently serving as Chair of the Conference Coordinating Committee. Of very special mention is Brian Croxall’s release from the role of ADHO EB Secretary (and previously, that of its Steering Committee after four years of outstanding service. We are likewise grateful to the COB and EB members, both rotating out of their roles and continuing on, for all of their hard work guiding ADHO into its new governance model.

More details about all of ADHO’s activities in 2020-21 will be found in minutes from our annual meeting, which are forthcoming.


This post was drafted by the Communications Team with significant input from the Committee Chairs, EB, and COB.