Humanist Discussion Group

Humanist Archives: June 3, 2021, 6 a.m. Humanist 35.63 - interdisciplinary

              Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 63.
        Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
                      Hosted by DH-Cologne
                Submit to:

        Date: 2021-06-02 15:44:14+00:00
        From:  Paola Moscati <>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.59: interdisciplinary

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to take part in this debate because I recently wrote an
article (now in print) on the interdisciplinary turn in the
development of archaeological computing/digital archaeology and
digital cultural heritage in terms of integration and fusion of
expertise. I explored the evolution of this process over time,
starting from the debate raised in 1991, when Tito Orlandi organised a
Seminar on 'Discipline umanistiche e informatica. Il problema
dell’integrazione' at the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. On that
occasion some topical issues were highlighted in order to find some
common ground between information science and humanities scholarship
and to outline a cross-disciplinary approach.

Moving backwards in time, already from the 1960s the role of
‘integration’ was at the heart of many interdisciplinary initiatives
supported by the Academy (see e.g. the Symposium on ‘Symmetries’) and
by the Centro Linceo interdisciplinare “Beniamino Segre”, as part of
their efforts to foster collaborative development between scientists
from different research backgrounds. The concept of ‘fusion’, however,
is much more recent and responds to a global resource management
model, which combines the methods of digital archaeology with the
objectives of Heritage Science, with a focus on digital humanities and
on a new ‘infrastructure’ philosophy, based on integrated systems that
embody the responsible planning and management of common resources.
To quote Alan Liu, the risk is likely to be “to impose an ultimately
impoverished uniformity of interdisciplinarity”.

Paola Moscati

Humanist <> ha scritto:

> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 35, No. 59.
>         Department of Digital Humanities, University of Cologne
>                               Hosted by DH-Cologne
>                 Submit to:
>     [1]    From: Alan Liu <>
>            Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.56: interdisciplinary (102)
>     [2]    From: Dr. Herbert Wender <>
>            Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.56: interdisciplinary (5)
>     [3]    From: Willard McCarty <>
>            Subject: doing not labelling (18)
> --[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------
>         Date: 2021-05-31 09:02:56+00:00
>         From: Alan Liu <>
>         Subject: Re: [Humanist] 35.56: interdisciplinary
> Dear Willard,
> I'm not sure where this belongs in the rich thread prompted by your
> original question: "What evidence can be adduced to demonstrate that
> digital humanities is in practice interdisciplinary?"
> Here's something from a long-ago essay I wrote, later included as chapter 6
> in my *Local Transcendence* book under the title "The Interdisciplinary War
> Machine." (An earlier version appeared in German as “Die interdisziplinäre
> Kriegsmaschine” in *Texte zur Kunste*, No. 12 (Nov. 1993): 127-37). The
> vocabulary of "Web 2.0" in this excerpt is now quaint. But I think the main
> point still applies. In the present application: whether DH is or
> can/should be perceived as interdisciplinary is a question that should be
> asked not just in an academic context, where much of the good discussion
> has played out, but also in a wider societal one. I'm afraid to say that
> this opens up the Pandora's box of all the not-well-informed or
> throw-out-the-baby-with-the-bathwater critiques of DH as "neoliberal" (a
> term at least as unbounded and ill-defined in its usual adversarial stance
> as "interdisciplinary" in its typical advocatory stance).
> From my *Local Transcendence: Essays on Postmodern Historicism and the
> Database* (University of Chicago Press, 2008), p. 177-178:
> Some of the most crucial problems in interdisciplinary studies now bear on
> the differential relations between such *institutions* as corporate
> business, science, the health industry, the legal profession, media, the
> government, the military, and education. In varying ways,
> interdisciplinarity has recently been central to all these institutions.
> But the interdisciplinary practices of some institutions have exerted an
> overpowering, normative influence over those of others – to the extent that
> we may say that we are now threatened by a monoculture of
> interdisciplinarity. The current hegemon, clearly, is corporate
> interdisciplinarity. In the corporate sphere, interdisciplinarity is a
> function of the elementary social unit of the New Economy: the team (a
> phenomenon I have discussed in greater detail in *Laws of Cool*). One of
> the most important kinds of corporate teams is the interdisciplinary team
> (including the "tiger team" outside the normal chain of command) created to
> address particular problems or opportunities by assembling experts from
> across departments (e.g., design, engineering, manufacturing, marketing).
> And paralleling corporate interdisciplinarity is the model of big science,
> which at least since the Manhattan Project has had remarkable success in
> convening similar multidisciplinary research teams (composed, e.g., of
> physicists, mathematicians, chemists, and computer scientists).
> Furthermore, in just the single decade from the popularization of the
> Internet in the early 1990s through the rise of the "Web 2.0" or
> "user-created content" / "Web services" era in the early years of the
> twenty-first century, the corporate and the scientific practices of
> interdisciplinarity have been reinforced by collaborative information
> technologies (e.g., collaboration programs, "extranets," "Web services,"
> "content-management systems," blogs, wikis, and, in general, fuller
> implementations of the principle of networking). Such technology both
> allows work teams to interoperate seamlessly across corporate information
> systems and geographic borders and, as in the case of social networking or
> folksonomic-tagging sites, disseminates an uncannily similar model of
> teamwork to popular culture. The crucial point is that, while in the past
> most social institutions improvised their own protocols, practices, and
> conventions of interdisciplinarity, the current domination by big business
> and big science abetted by Web 2.0 has the potential to impose an
> ultimately impoverished uniformity of interdisciplinarity ....

Unsubscribe at:
List posts to:
List info and archives at at:
Listmember interface at:
Subscribe at: