A Guerrilla Theory for the Digital Humanities

The following paper will be presented in long form at the 2016 Keystone DH conference in Pittsburgh, PA.

This paper charts a political economy of the digital humanities and interrogates the invocation of the guerrilla as a means of conceptualizing DH praxis. Featured most prominently in the discourse of the #transformDH movement, the guerrilla, following Natalia Cecire’s description, is a valuation of “the oppositional, the maroon, and the fugitive that characterizes #transformDH [that is] clearly indebted to the legacies of queer theory and critical race studies.” Simply stated, connected to contemporary concerns for postcolonial DH and #activistDH, the guerrilla operates as a means of thinking DH praxis from a position of radical difference. Beyond DH praxis, the guerrilla is invoked in the discourse of New Media and political theory as an ungovernable monster, a pack of wolves, and an active nihilist. It is, parallel to the DH invocation of the figure, a figure made ‘other,’ but a divisive other, one that is both violent and unpredictable.

I follow this duality by exploring collaborative and collective acts of political becoming endemic to guerrilla discourse and tactics. Augmenting the discourse of post-colonial DH, I turn to the heritage of Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino’s Towards a Third Cinema in particular, arguing that collective acts of cinematic practice in Latin America might serve as an analog for a guerrilla DH. I conclude this paper by theorizing the guerrilla as an inherently collective figure and an expression of what Cathy N. Davidson thinks as “collaboration by difference.”

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