This event spans multiple dates:
30 May 2022 14:00-15:00 Online
1 Jun 2022 14:00-15:00 Online
6 Jun 2022 14:00-15:00 Online
8 Jun 2022 14:00-15:00 Online


Methods Fellows Series | Digital Humanities: Exploring critical, intersectional and decolonial methods

Isabelle Higgins, Methods Fellow – Cambridge Digital Humanities

This Methods Fellows’ Workshop Series event aims to encourage participants to think critically and reflexively about the nature of digital humanities research. It will explore (both individually and collectively) the function and effect of critical, intersectional and decolonial research methods and their impact on research fields, participants and research outputs.

For each seminar, participants will be provided with a reading list that will contain both core introductory texts and additional readings. They will be expected to do 30 minutes of reading ahead of each seminar. The seminars themselves will be a mix of presentations, small group discussion and the study of specific empirical cases.

Throughout the seminars, we will collectively assemble a shared bibliography of academic texts and other digital resources. Participants will also be encouraged to bring and share examples and challenges from their own research.

To increase space for discussion and critical reflection, participants will be encouraged to form small working groups, focused on the seminar theme they find most productive, and to connect with their working group for a 30-minute call to reflect on their chosen seminar outside of the scheduled four hours of teaching. There will be the option to feedback on these discussions to the wider group, deepening our shared understanding of the content covered in the course. Isabelle will also hold virtual office hours following the seminar series. In these ways and others, the series will aim to cater for those new to this area of research, as well as for scholars who are already working in digital humanities.

Key topics covered in the sessions will include:

  • Seminar 1: Digital Humanities in Social and Historical Context: Considering what and how we research

We will focus on placing digital humanities, as a discipline, in the context of its emergence. Disciplinary Sociology, for example, is increasingly grappling with its colonial past (Meghji, 2020). What happens when we examine the history and context of digital humanities? McIlwain (2020) reminds us of the historical ties between the development of computational technology and the surveillance of Black bodies. Yet digital humanities research has also sought to challenge the legal, social and political power exercised through digital systems (Selwyn, 2019). Does contextualising our methods change how we approach them?

  • Seminar 2: Critical approaches to Digital Environments: Affordances, Interfaces, AI, Algorithms

We will draw on the vast range of work produced by race critical code scholars, which help us to explore the assumptions and inequalities that are coded into the software we study (or use to conduct our studies). Ruha Benjamin (2016a:150) reminds us to ask of digital technology: ‘who and what is fixed in place – classified, corralled, and/or coerced, to enable innovation?’ How does a consideration of encoded digital inequalities affect our methodologies?

  • Seminar 3: Critical Engagement with User Generated
    Content: Beyond content & discourse analysis

We will draw on critical theories that draw attention to the digital and social constructs and conventions that shape the production of user-generated content, with Brock’s (2018) Critical Techno-Cultural Discourse Analysis as one such methodological contribution. We’ll explore what happens to our research when we broaden our methodological framing, considering the type of content produced by users and how it is produced, who is producing it, and what governs this production.

  • Seminar 4: Looking forward: Our roles as researchers in Digital Humanities

We will pay attention to the growing calls from a range of cross-disciplinary scholars who invite us to actively consider the impact of our methods on the future. We’ll explore different notions of methodological responsibility and innovation, from the speculative (Benjamin, 2016b), to the caring (de la Bellacasa, 2011), to the adaptive and inductive (Markham & Buchanan, 2012). What happens when we place our research into its broader context and consider how our methods will shape the future of our discipline?

Time commitment:

  • 4 x 1-hour online sessions on 30 May, 1, 6 & 8 June 2022
  • 4 x 30-minute pre-session reading, a list containing introductory texts and additional readings for each session will be provided
  • Participants are encouraged to form small working groups and connect for 30-minutes outside of the scheduled four-hour teaching to increase discussion and critical reflection space.


This course is open to graduate students and staff at the University of Cambridge.

Limited places are available and can be booked via UTBS.


Benjamin, R., 2016a. Innovating inequity: if race is a technology, post-racialism is the genius bar. Ethnic and racial studies, 39(13):2227–2234.

Benjamin, Ruha. 2016b. “Racial Fictions, Biological Facts: Expanding the Sociological Imagination through Speculative Methods.” Catalyst 2(2).

Brock, A., 2018. Critical technocultural discourse analysis. New Media & Society, 20(3):1012– 1030.

de la Bellacasa, M. P. 2011. ‘Matters of care in technoscience: Assembling neglected things’, Social Studies of Science, 41(1), pp. 85–106. DOI: 10.1177/0306312710380301.

Markham, A., & Buchanan, E., 2012. Ethical Decision-­‐‑Making and Internet Research: Recommendations from the AoIR Ethics Working Committee (Version 2.0) Available at:

McIlwain, C D., 2019 Black Software: The Internet and Racial Justice, from the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter, Oxford University Press

Meghji, A., 2020. Decolonizing sociology: an introduction Cambridge: Polity Press

Selwyn, N., 2019. What is digital sociology? Cambridge: Polity Press

Cambridge Digital Humanities

Tel: +44 1223 766886