18 Oct 2022 17:30 – 18:30 McCrum Lecture Theatre, Corpus Christi College


Building Empires of Data: Colonial Cultures as Data Cultures

Speaker: Professor Roopika Risam (Dartmouth College)

A lecture on Roopika’s next book on how data operated as a technology of colonialism.

Chair: Professor Caroline Bassett (Cambridge)

In light of technological developments of the last several decades, data is being positioned by scholars as a “new frontier” for colonialism. But is the relationship between data and colonialism new? Blending a personal and scholarly approach to data, this talk explores the role of data in the building and maintaining empire, as well as the role of data in resisting it. Risam will situate colonial cultures as data cultures, discuss the influences of colonial data cultures on digital scholarship today, and outline a vision for resisting it.

About the speaker

Roopika Risam is Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies and of Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College, where she is part of the Digital Humanities and Social Engagement Cluster.

Formerly, Risam was Chair of Secondary and Higher Education and Associate Professor of Education and English at Salem State University. There, she also served as the Faculty Fellow for Digital Library Initiatives, Co-Director of the Viking OER and Textbook Affordability Initiative, Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Digital Studies, and Coordinator of the Combined B.A./M.Ed. in English Education.

Her research interests lie at the intersections of postcolonial and African diaspora studies, humanities knowledge infrastructures, and digital humanities.

Risam’s work building humanities knowledge infrastructures has been supported by over $3.6 million in grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Institute for Museum and Library Services, Mass Humanities, and the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.

Her first monograph, New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy, was published by Northwestern University Press in 2018. She is the co-editor of Intersectionality in Digital Humanities (Arc Humanities/Amsterdam University Press, 2019) and South Asian Digital Humanities: Postcolonial Mediations Across Technology’s Cultural Canon (Routledge, 2020). Risam’s latest co-edited collection The Digital Black Atlantic in the Debates in the Digital Humanities series (University of Minnesota Press) was published in 2021. Her current book project, “Insurgent Academics: A Radical Account of Public Humanities,” which traces a new history of public humanities through the emergence of ethnic studies, is under contract with Johns Hopkins University Press.


This lecture will be held in person, and all tickets are free. The McCrum Lecture Theatre has step-free access on Bene’t Street, CB2.

The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception.

This is the first of two lectures within this series. To view the second event and book – click here

Cambridge Digital Humanities

Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk