#ASA2012 (#2012ASA)

Rainbow in the sky in front of San Juan Conference Center

I’m recently returned from #ASA2012 (or #2012ASA) and I really did enjoy myself. I had the opportunity to meet folks “fleshy avatars,” some of whom I’ve been in e-community with for a long time. I also met new folks with whom I’m excited to build intellectual community (and I stole away to the beach for a little bit!).

I was wearing my DH hat at the conference and went to the Digital Humanities Caucus Panel, What can digital humanities bring to American Studies? And vice versa? For a very insightful and detailed transcript of the session see Alexis Lothian’s blog post here. This panel was scheduled against the minority mentoring breakfast a fact Marta S. Rivera and I lamented on twitter and was particularly heart wrenching as the two sessions were separated by a thin wall (so much joy next door!). I digress.

Then it was on to the Digital Shorts! I was up first, where I gave folks a quick overview of the Emory #OWS Archive and the visualizations the other grad fellows and I created based simply on the 31,000+ geolocated tweets in the archive. Other shorts included a discussion of Scalar, USC’s online archival platform, and a pitch for submissions for DHQ.

Fast forward through more conference, simultaneous dog show in the convention center, freezing conference rooms, planning for ASA actions in support of Palestinian people, no wi-fi and it was time for my workshop/roundtable with fellow #transformDH enthusiasts. We had quite a turnout including #transformdh patron saints Lisa Nakamura, Natalia Cecire, Lauren Klein, and Susan Garfinkel, among others. For a recap of our session check out our hand out, storified tweets, and Alexis Lothian’s awesome recount of the session. I hope folks feel the pull to connect themselves to the #transformdh movement and hashtag.

Part of what inspires me about DH is a commitment to doing and generally doing better. I appreciate being a part of a community that is interested in working through critiques and the collaborative spirit that engenders. Someone asked me what is transformative about DH and I didn’t have a good answer at the time. Upon reflecting, I think DH is not in and of itself transformative, but it attracts people with an interest in problem solving and the creation of solutions, which is a different epistemic position than many other fields. This makes many transformations possible and I’m glad to be connected to the movement.

Overall ASA left me more committed to publishing work and sharing information about creating sustainable conferences. There’s so much great content at ASA but with a schedule from 8am to 10pm with no lunch or dinner breaks (with few meal options nearby) it becomes hard to sustain yourself as an attendee. American Studies can learn from its own interdisciplinary sub-fields, namely disability studies, and think about how to promote more wellness while conferencing.

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