Digital Archives as Socially and Civically Just Public Resources

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


How can the digital humanities community ensure that its digital archives are public resources that live up to the best potential of digital humanities without repeating or perpetuating power imbalances, silences, or injustice? A framework for anti-racist action, the “ARC of racial justice,” developed by historian Jemar Tisby in his study of the complicity of the Christian church in perpetuating racism in the United States, is one way that this goal can be accomplished. The ARC is an acronym for three kinds of interrelated and interdependent kinds of actions one can take to fight racism and work for change: Awareness (building knowledge), Relationships (building connections in community), and Commitment (systemic change and a way of life) (2019, 194–7). This chapter applies Tisby’s ARC framework to the context of publicly available digital archives and how they can become more socially and civically just by making sure the “silences in the archive” are identified, the variety of stories are told, and injustices are addressed (Thomas, Fowler, and Johnson 2017). The interaction between digital humanities scholars, community members, and cultural heritage professionals, such as librarians, archivists, and museum curators, is an important dynamic for digital archives that serve as public resources. When digital humanities projects result in digital archives they are often the result of collaboration and conversations between digital humanities scholars and cultural heritage professionals because of shared core values of these professions and their institutions to provide wide and equitable access, as well as to “advance knowledge, foster innovation, and serve the public” (Spiro 2012; Vandegrift and Varner 2013; Gerber 2017). The public-facing function of these collections and projects is also deepened by the engagement with the public humanities and public history communities (Brennan 2016, “Public History Roots”).
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Bloomsbury Handbook to the Digital Humanities
PublisherBloomsbury Academic Publishing
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9781350232112, 9781350232129, 9781350232136, 9781350232143, 9781350232112, 9781350232129, 9781350232136, 9781350232143
StatePublished - 2023


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