The Tactical Humanities Lab is a Digital Humanities and STS research center oriented towards social justice. The THL does not believe in building “tools,” but rather in leveraging interpretive and humanistic ways of knowing to redefine the scope and boundaries of the digital.
Goals of Research
We are a collection of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates from across STS, Computer Science, Arts, Media Studies, and Game Design who are interested in the tensions among critical inquiry, social justice, and digital practices.
The Tactical Humanities Lab’s starting point is that “the digital” is not a set of tools to be deployed to get social justice done. Rather, the digital, as a coagulation of material, symbolic, and epistemic apparatuses, is entangled with histories of justice, appropriation, resistance, oppression, knowledge-making, agonism, and power. Similarly, the digital is not just a set of material and semiotic systems. It is a pattern of thought that exists as cultural, philosophical, and material practices before and beyond computational systems. As such, it is always ideological, always political, always multiple.
As such, the goals of the THL include:
- Deconstructing the digital as an epistemic, ideological, and material concept
- Building spaces that grapple with translating diverse ways of knowing
- Hacking existing digital networks to privilege women, PoC, and LGBTQIA+ persons
- Re-configuring when, where, and how “technical” and “humanistic” work happens
Projects in the THL take on a wide variety of forms, from web design and development, to critical interpretations of race, genetics and interface, to pedagogical and curricular experimentation.
Background on the Digital Humanities
The Tactical Humanities Lab inverts the stereotype of Digital Humanities work. While our projects may intersect with archival practices, speculative computing, and design and making work–all hallmarks of DH–the lab aims to broaden the boundaries of DH by bringing humanistic inquiry into technical spaces. We talk explicitly about being humanists and critical theorists in the context of an engineering-centered institute. We aim not just to change the Humanities and the social sciences, but to change computer science, design, information technology, and biotechnology. This means not only working with self-identified STEM practitioners, but also highlighting–and holding accountable–the epistemic and political frameworks that underpin disciplinary and technical work across STEM and the humanities.