Re-contemplating Geography as it Governs the Assemblage and Nomenclature of ‘Black’ through Gallon and Josephs
I want to briefly (lol) examine geography as a link between Gallon and Josephs’ approaches to ‘Black’, diasporically, and how it governs the deployment of ‘Black’ and the application of it in Black DH (BDH).
Across the many BDH projects included in Gallon’s essay (Graham’s Project on The History of Black Writing, Digital Schomburg) the offerings in BDH are rich, and yet deeply rooted in the West and recovery and epistemologies made there — which may be slightly antithetical to ‘Black’ as encompassing or universal, and what BDH seeks to accomplish as an application, without a closer examination of the term (to which Gallon begins to unpack in the beginning of her chapter).
We see this particular struggle intimated in Josephs’ offerings on her 2010s coursework; it is precisely compounded by the way geography moderates or governs ‘Black’ when contemplating the intersection of Digital and Caribbean, and how methods of DH can be used to emphasize (or contemplate) cultures that (should) assemble ‘Black’ and the DH field as a whole. I wished for greater detail on how the six out of eight Caribbean students (for the course) deployed DH with this in mind.
Despite the nomenclature of ‘Black’ and how ‘Caribbean’ intimately disrupts barrier (as a culturally diffusive ethnicity, not traditionally considered ‘West’ despite region) the dearth of information on the intersection of DH and the Caribbean encourages us to consider how BDH can (and must) look after this category as we consider the deployment and assemblage of ‘Black’ in the field.
When I contemplate BDH as an assemblage and in fact, “a progenitor and host,” per Gallon in Digital Humanities — specifically on the concept of humanity — Josephs’ struggle helps me to tangentially infer on how the geographical power structure of the West currently situates and governs BDH epistemologies determined to do the opposite in its purposeful “dismembering” of the DH field.
In looking at both, I yearn for more assemblages that look like Josephs’ work, and that move the dialectic of Gallon into categories that re-contemplate nomenclature – beyond whiteness as a next step – with greater consideration to geography, especially as a primary way to contemplate what assembles or constitutes ‘Black’, in (and outside of) DH.