Title VI National Resource Centers and the Digital Humanities

In Lee Bessette’s article on the digital humanities, Lee states:

I guess the first things that I am trying to build are bridges. Bridges between different humanities disciplines (translation, comparative literature) and bring them into digital humanities, at least in a more visible way. Looking at Mark Sample’s list of DH sessions at MLA 12, I was struck at how those working in a language other than English were off on their own panels, and probably largely attended not by those in DH but those who also worked in that language area. I think, more generally, DH could do more to bridge linguistic divides.

At MLA, I heard a few people who were focused on languages other than English say that the areas they were in hadn’t done as much with the digital humanities as English. I thought this was strange because the desires and structures in the digital humanities, in many ways, have so many analogs to existing departments and programs that bridge linguistic divides, especially with National Resource Centers.

The Department of Education makes grants to National Resource Centers to:

establish, strengthen, and operate language and area or international studies centers that will be national resources for teaching any modern foreign language. Grants support: instruction in fields needed to provide full understanding of areas, regions or countries; research and training in international studies; work in the language aspects of professional and other fields of study; and instruction and research on issues in world affairs. (Department of Education website)

This statement seems rather far-reaching and inclusive, and that’s what I’ve seen of the amazing work done by National Resource Centers. Through the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC), I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with several National Resource Centers, including the Center for Latin American Studies UF.  UF’s Center for Latin American Studies does fabulous work with a wide array of research, teaching, and service. The work includes a high degree of cross-disciplinary collaboration and a great deal of building, including being active collaborators and partners in building dLOC. For dLOC, UF’s Center collaborated with FIU’s Latin American and Caribbean Center, another partner in founding dLOC, and many others.

dLOC is absolutely incredible. It’s inspired me to learn many things, including more about the history, structure, and relationships of various aspects of academia, including National Resource Centers. I love dLOC for what it is, does, and represents in terms of the possibilities for the digital humanities. dLOC is only one, granted a successful and wonderful one, example of things built with collaboration by National Resource Centers.

Given that National Resource Centers actively build things, they do it collaboratively, and they include many alternative academics, to me, they seem always already present in conversations about the digital humanities to me, except in regards to terminology. UF’s Center for Latin American Studies has always built things in collaboration with others, using the appropriate technology of the time. Perhaps the “digital humanities” terminology hasn’t yet had enough time to articulate its difference to, yet connection with, the work already being done.

Or, maybe I have more to learn on the Centers and their relationship to the digital humanities.  That’s certainly an exciting possibility, given the rich history of UF’s Center for Latin American Studies. Whatever the case may be, for future work I’m excited to be able to have National Resource Centers as partners in and models for doing digital humanities work. I’m looking forward to doing more digital humanities work with dLOC with National Resource Center partners, and more digital humanities work with other National Resource Center partners. UF has other National Resource Centers as well. For example, I’ve worked closely with Dan Reboussin, Head of the African Studies Collection in the Libraries, to support the Center for African Studies by working with Dan to build the African Studies Digital Collections.

The Department of Education website includes a list of all of the currently funded National Resource Centers, which is a great resource for finding collaborators for many projects, including the digital humanities.