Diversity Workshop Diversity Implicit Bias and Cultural Cloning Privilege Intersectionality

workshop / tutorial
  1. 1. Barbara Bordalejo

    Katholieke Universiteit (KU) Leuven (Catholic University of Louvain)

  2. 2. Daniel Paul O'Donnell

    University of Lethbridge

Work text
This plain text was ingested for the purpose of full-text search, not to preserve original formatting or readability. For the most complete copy, refer to the original conference program.

This workshop seeks to create awareness of diversity and cultural differences. This is especially important within the discipline of Digital Humanities because of its emphasis on collaborative work which brings together different individuals. Moreover, our work has shown that in Digital Humanities, where there could be many different voices, most of the power and prestige remain centralized in the Global-North, in Anglophone countries. This is not surprising considering the general state of academia as a mostly male, mostly white environment (Johnsrud and Des Jarlais 1994, Towsend 2013). For this reason, it’s essential to work with individuals to foster a richer environment, to change behaviours, and to challenge prejudices.
Reflecting on these matters also allows us to expand the horizons of our own limited perspectives. An article published in the Scientific American, “How Diversity Makes Us Smarter,” states: ‘Decades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers show that socially diverse groups (that is, those with a diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation) are more innovative than homogeneous groups.’ (Phillips 2014)
In DH, creativity and innovation are essential for the development of new approaches or new applications of traditional methodologies. O’Donnell has argued that diversity is a core value in Digital Humanities:
“Diversity”—in the sense of access to as wide a possible range of experiences, contexts, and purposes in the computational context of or application of computation to the study of problems in the Humanities,
particularly as this is represented by the lived experiences of different demographic groups—is in fact
more important than “Quality,” especially if “Quality” is determined using methods that encourage the reinscription of already dominant forms of research and experience. (O’Donnell, forthcoming).

This workshop was first commissioned by Karina Van Dalen-Oskan in 2016 to be delivered to the members of ADHO’s steering committee. We delivered it first in Montreal 2017 and later in Mexico City 2018. These experiences have shown the workshop topic is a moving target as community norms adjust and change (thus, for example, we have seen an increasing interest in gender diversity in our workshops even over the last two years). In light of the last two workshops, we have modified and updated the content and activities for this new proposal.
Different concepts of diversity, with particular emphasis on cultural and contextual differences.
Notions of implicit bias (an unconscious and automatic reflex causing us to pass judgement on others) and Cultural Cloning (the tendency for replication of hiring committees where people of the same ethnicity, ability, gender, etc hire people like themselves [Essed & Goldberg 2002, Essed 2004]).
The impact of Implicit Bias on teachers and educators, hiring committees and other bodies making decisions about others (journal editors, grant evaluators). We carry out exercises on implicit bias.
To work on the concept of privilege we have developed a game which we use to illustrate the many factors shaping our lives. Particularly in the case of privileged individuals, it is not easy to locate and categorize their own instances of privilege.
When two or more oppressive systems overlap and negatively impact an individual, we talk about intersectionality (Crenshaw 1991, Essed 1994, Essed & Goldberg 2002, Risam 2005). This core concept allows us to explore how privilege or lack thereof impacts individuals directly.
At the end of this workshop, we aim to guide participants to reflect on the benefits of a more diverse working environment by questioning our preconceived notions of sameness as an ideal.
Discussions in the context of this workshop deal with various delicate subjects and, for this reason, individuals are likely to experience bonding within their working groups. We consider this a fortunate side effect of the workshop.

The workshop is directed at anyone with an interest in understanding diversity in digital humanities and creating a welcoming and inclusive DH environment. Conference organizers, leaders in the field, and those who often form part of hiring committees are invited to participate. Everyone is welcome to attend, but we particularly encourage the participation of people who are in privileged positions in academia, GLAM, or similar environments.


Crenshaw, K.
(1991). Mapping the margins: intersectionality, identity politics, and violence against women of color. Stanford Law Review, 43.6: 1241-1299.

Essed, P.
(1994). Making and breaking ethnic boundaries: women's studies, diversity, and racism. Women's Studies Quarterly, 22.3/4: 232-249.

Essed, P.
(2000). Dilemmas in leadership: women of colour in the Academy. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 23.5: 888-904.

Essed, P.
(2004). Cloning amongst professors:
and imagined homogeneities. NORA - Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, 12.2: 113-122.

Essed, P. and Goldberg, D. T.
(2002). Cloning cultures: the social injustices of sameness. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 25.6: 1066-1082.

Gold, M.
(2012). Debates in the Digital Humanities. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Johnsrud, L. and Des Jarlais, C. D.
(1994). Barriers to tenures for women and minorities. The Review of Higher Education, 17.4: 335-353.

O’Donnell, D. P.
(Forthcoming). All along the watchtower: intersectional diversity as a core intellectual value in the Digital Humanities. In
, B. and
, R. (
), Intersectionality in Digital Humanities.

Phillips, K. W.
(2014). How diversity makes us smarter. Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-diversity-makes-us-smarter/

Towsend, R. B.
(2013). Gender and success in academia: more from the historian’s career path’s survey. In Perspectives in History. http://www.historians.org/publications-and-directories/perspectives-on-history/january-2013/gender-and-success-in-academia

Risam, R.
(2015). Beyond the margins: intersectionality and Digital Humanities.” DHQ, 9.4. http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/9/2/000208/000208.htm

If this content appears in violation of your intellectual property rights, or you see errors or omissions, please reach out to Scott B. Weingart to discuss removing or amending the materials.