Accepted Paper:

The politics of what humanists do: digital humanities as an epistemic regime  


Thomas Franssen (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

Digital humanities research has attracted considerable attention and large amounts of funding from funding bodies in recent years. This paper explores digital humanities as an epistemic regime through which governance actors aim to modernize the humanities, its practices and its scholars.

Paper long abstract:

In the past 25 years, key research governance actors in the Netherlands, including the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and the country's main research funding body (NWO), have invested considerable resources in the development of digital research infrastructures for the humanities. Beyond the building of digital research infrastructures, related changes in funding arrangements including increasing governmental priority-setting to support digital humanities research may potentially transform the humanities as a whole. As a scholarly domain that is seen by governance actors to have been 'in crisis' for decades, adopting digital humanities offer a chance of a digital revolution for those aiming to modernize the humanities.

This paper explores the form in which digital humanities is currently being mainstreamed and argues that rather than as a discipline governance actors have developed digital humanities as an infrastructure. This paper explores digital humanities as an epistemic regime that builds on different regimes of worth that have informed science policy in the Netherlands since the 1980s. In times of increasing governmental involvement in what forms of scientific inquiry are funded, the question what governmental actors consider good, valuable or useful humanities research is of crucial importance to understand how humanistic scholarly practices are shaped by research governance.

Panel F03
Scientists - agents under construction