Humanities and Digital Media: #dakotaaccesspipeline Edition

In the text introduction of Roopika Risam’s novel, New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities In Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy, Risam emphasizes how digital humanities has been created to diversify the digital realm that has been accessed more frequently in this generation due to technological advancements. The digital realm can provide different sources of information, such as literature pieces, historical pieces, etc. However, the problem Risam states is how the digital realm focuses more on white cis-gender male text-based literature and history, which masks other pieces created by a minority who has the same creative or intellectual capacity. Digital humanities allow people from different backgrounds to have a voice through the internet, in most cases bringing attention to injustices in our society, a great use of the platform. 

Throughout history white men have been known to have access to education (classism is a factor in this as well), however many women were not allowed to have the same intellectual knowledge as men, probably due to fragile masculinity. Risam argues this is a continuation of racism and sexism that has been embedded in our society that has continued but has adapted to this generation of discrimination. Due to postcolonialism, the history of many indigenous tribes has been erased, this was mainly due to mass genocide. Indigenous people had to either submit to the dominant white culture or died trying to maintain their culture. “The lives of colonial subjects and people of the African diaspora have historically been viewed as disruptive to dominant cultures that preserve a white status quo, as have their languages, histories, and cultural heritages (14).”  

Through digital humanities people can obtain access to different diverse sources of information that can raise awareness to the public at an instant. Risam’s main goal is to increase minority sources where their voices will not be silenced. By introducing a diverse perspective of information to scholars or to an everyday audience this will enlighten people’s outlook. A main example is the Dakota Pipeline Protest, many Native Americans, and other American civilians did not want oil companies to drill into Native American land that endangers the access to water supplies and the environment (McKenna). There was a large protest that captivated the nation’s attention and raised awareness through social media. #dakotaacesspipeline started trending on twitter instantly, this is a great usage of digital humanities because social media attracts people instantly to a social injustice problem that needs to be addressed.  

Discussion Questions: 

  1. By bringing humanities and digital media together how has this improved society today?  
  2. Do you believe there are any issues with bringing humanities and digital media together? If so, how would it create problems?  
  3. Do you believe digital media has constructed another form of inclusion? But how can this hurt movements?
  4. How can we bring back social justice hashtags after social media has focused on other political issues? Example: #BlackLivesMatter is still trending

Work Citation: 

McKenna, Phil, et al. “2016: Dakota Pipeline Protest Became a Native American Cry for Justice.” InsideClimate News, 15 June 2018,

Risam, Roopika. New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy. Northwestern University Press, 2019.

2 Replies to “Humanities and Digital Media: #dakotaaccesspipeline Edition”

  1. Hey Claudia!
    I admire your clear interpretation of Roopika Risam’s text, New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities In Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy. You echo her importance of how necessary it is to expose society to the views and information from people of all identities and intersecting traits/personalities. This text argues that the digital realm is one of the most widely used things, but there is only a small percentage of the population that hold power to display their words to be a moving digital influence- as you mentioned. This interferes with the sphere of public education, as a certain context from history isn’t represented on the internet which leads to important pieces of history missing for the public to be educated about. This idea continues the cycle of inequality- reminding me of the poverty cycle, the school to prison pipeline, the cycle of judicial injustices, and other cycles that are systematically hard to break. People of minority groups are left to “submit” to the digital culture of a narrow mindset. To answer your question, by bringing humanities and digital media together improved society today by cultivating “new communities to create new worlds in the digital cultural record” (Risam). I see this quote live through the invention of social media in which anyone who is able to make an account can post to the public, almost anything they wish in order to raise awareness and spread ideas. News can be posted and reach trending on twitter in an instant; in this way, anyone who follows the platform’s user policies correctly are able to spread information that may or may not go viral.

  2. Claudia, I loved your post. I think too often we forget about important things like these hashtag movements. They’re on Twitter’s trending page for a month and then somehow swept under the rug when the next “important’ one comes by. The thing is that they’re all important. They should always be brought up and kept relevant. Along with the example you gave us about the Pipeline, I think about Flint, Michigan… They still don’t have clean water… Like why clean water… Stuff like this just seriously upsets me, especially when people will donate millions of dollars to other causes, but won’t help here in the U.S. Billionare’s donated SO much money when the Notre Dame caught fire, within 24 hours. But Flint still doesn’t have water. Ridiculous.
    I do see a lot of these different hashtags still on my social media page, but that’s just because I follow the right accounts. That also just brings us back to the echo-chamber concepts that we talked about previously. The biggest issue is that the people that actually care and are trying to make a difference are the people seeing these things. They do not need to be informed anymore. The others need to be informed and told. I’m not sure how to break down the echo-chamber wall or if we did even get information into their hands, would they read it?

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