Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
#SB3: Minimal Computing Roundtable
Wednesday, 24/Jul/2019:
1:45pm - 3:15pm

Session Chair: Purdom Lindblad
Location: Salons 4 & 5, Grand Ballroom, Marriott City Center

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Minimal Computing: On the Borders of Speculative Archives

Alexander Gil1, Purdom Lindblad2, Toniesha Taylor3, Marisa Parham4, Setsuko Yokoyama2

1Columbia University Libraries; 2University of Maryland; 3Prairie View A&M; 4Amherst College

The need to bear the weight of the Anthropocene on the same shoulders as we bear the weight of racial and colonial/capitalist violence requires an interrogation and fundamental transformation of how we work. Minimal computing as a banner has attracted a group of diverse thinkers and practitioners to think through and design within material and ethical constraints. Broadly defined, minimal computing is the interpretation and implementation of systems that reduce computation to address needs and costs around social and environmental justice.

At their best, archives and digital humanities center voices that have been obscured through negligence or violently silenced from mainstream narratives. In the face of increased criminalization of and violence towards people of color, immigrants, our planet, and many other horrors of our time, we feel a renewed sense of urgency to surface, highlight, and empower narratives from marginalized groups as a tool for social and environmental justice. These narratives themselves cannot be divorced from the material realities of their vehicles, and we are called upon to generate new modes of understanding around production itself that do not recreate exploitative power dynamics: speculative archives through and through. What then are these tools, approaches, and best practices for this kind of work? How do we think through them?

This roundtable takes as place of departure both Alex Gil’s assertion workers in the humanities share the goal of renewal, dissemination, and preservation of the scholarly record within increasingly hybrid and global futures, as well as Anne Gilliland and Michelle Caswell’s work with the archival imaginary, meaning attending to those absent (perhaps missing, destroyed, or theorized and wished-for) records as resistance to dominant notions of evidence. Minimal computing at the borders of speculative archives offer a model for imagining and implementing world(s) otherwise, takes seriously the need for creators to understand and own the tools and practices for liberatory work.

The first portion of the proposed 1 hour roundtable will ask panelists to discuss how minimal computing in pursuit of speculation enable us to mark out sites of disjuncture within our analytical and methodological approaches; how reclaiming the means of production and dissemination can disrupt the standard research cycle. For the second half-hour, the discussion will open up to leverage the collective expertise and experience within the room through a modified version of the fish-bowl model (no changing seats) in order to account for time.

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