Digital Humanities in Precarious Times

Digital Humanities in Precarious Times


The Faculty of Humanities at North-West University, South Africa, is pleased to announce its first conference on digital humanities (DH) in precarious times. DH is both an academic field and a community of practice which has been evolving over the past decades. It is characteristically concerned with the application of computational tools and methods to traditional humanities studies such as linguistics, literature, music, history, philosophy, etc. Advances in technology have led to more sophisticated computing power that have ushered in novel DH methodologies. DH involves inter and cross-disciplinary collaboration between many scientists, that bring together plurality of methodologies, critical and reflexive approaches, and the disruption of traditional practices of doing scientific research that is driven by the use of novel and fast-evolving digital technologies.


Aim and themes of the conference 

The aim of the conference is to bring together scholars from different fields of study in the humanities to report on research and practice related to digital humanities. The development of digital humanities is especially important in a precarious world where technology can enhance the living or exclude the disadvantaged. Thus, human skills such as creativity, innovation, adaptability, empathy, integrity and imagination are quintessential to ensure that everyone reaps the advantages of a digital world.

Important note: Research submitted for this conference must have an emphasis on either the impact of digitalisation on humanity or how humanity influences the development of digitalisation. Thus, research or practice that only reports on the technical aspects of digitalisation will not be considered.


Main theme: Digital Humanities in precarious times

Sub -Themes

  1. Digital humanities and public governance
  2. Digital Media and Communication Studies
  3. Digitization, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) – An ethical dilemma for social and political humanities, but also for philosophy
  4. Digital humanities and creative capital
  5. Digital humanities and linguistics
  6. Digital humanities and literature 
  7. Digital humanities and language technology
  8. Digital humanities and music
  9. Population Dynamics during changing times
  10. Digitalisation: From precarity and precariousness to capability

Important dates and Conference Details 

The dates for the next conference in 2024, as well as the location will be announced

Abstract information

We invite researchers and practitioners to submit abstracts for virtual and face-to-face (or mask-to-mask) paper presentations and posters.

Unfortunately, space is limited and therefore only 200 attendants can be accommodated at the venue for the main conference.

Abstracts should not be more than 300 words and must include the following detail:

  • Title of presentation
  • Indicate relevant conference sub-theme
  • Titles, surnames and names of authors
  • Institution
  • Country
  • Corresponding author’s telephone number and email address
  • Type of presentation
  • Virtual paper
  • Face-to-face (or mask-to-mask) paper
  • Poster
  • Symposium
  • Keywords (not more than 5 keywords)
  • Any special technical requirements


Virtual and face-to-face (or mask-to-mask) paper presentations:

The length of the paper presentations must not be more than 15 minutes. After the presentation, 5 minutes question time will be allowed.


Poster presentations:

Design the poster so that it is easy to read and include some visuals or charts. At the top of the poster the title and authors’ names and affiliations must be indicated.  The poster size should be A1 international paper size in portrait format. Please do not use foam core or any thick or multi-layered materials directly on the poster boards. Also make sure that the poster can be posted on the boards.


Symposium presentation:

The symposium presentation allows for a project presentation where different researchers within the project can report on specific aspects. No more than three presentations are allowed.

For example, the first presentation can deal with the introduction and problem statement. The second presentation can provide information about the research methodology and the third can address the findings, interpretation, discussion, conclusions and recommendations.

This type of conference presentation encourages a multi-, inter- or transdisciplinary approach. 


Important note: The presentations must address the above-mentioned themes where the emphasis is on either the impact of digitalisation on humanity or how humanity influences the development of digitalisation

Cloud Matters - Group Exhibition

To accompany the international conference, Digital Humanities in Precarious Times, hosted by the Faculty of Humanities, the research niche, Visual Narratives and Creative Outputs (ViNCO), resented the group exhibition, CLOUD MATTERS, from 2 to 4 November 2022.

Cloud computing and servers have revolutionised digital technology, providing remotely accessible processing power and storage on-demand. While the cloud may seem immaterial and distant, it demands huge energy resources that are generated by extracting and consuming fossil fuels, metals, and water.  The environmental impact of the cloud and information technology is further caused by the production, distribution and discarding of technological devices. The following figures provide a glimpse of the impact: 

  • 1218 billion litres: the daily amount of water used in data centres
  • 11.4 million metric tons: e-waste consisting of IT devices, screens and monitors generated globally in 2021.
  • 215 000 tons: second-hand consumer electronics – mostly from Western Europe - dumped in Agbogbloshie, Ghana, annually

The cloud is therefore ‘matter’, and it also matters greatly when considering its environmental impact and by extension, its social impact. 

Invited artists will create artworks and poems that reflect on the environmental impact of the cloud and information technological industries. The works will be installed outdoors, on the banks of the Vaal River in the garden of the Riverside Sun Hotel, the venue of the Digital Humanities conference. 

The exhibition is curated by Annemi Conradie-Chetty, Nokukhanya S Khumalo, Liam Rothballer.

Cloud Matters Exhibition Catalogue

Key Note Speakers of 2022

We are privileged in that the following experts have confirmed their availability as key-note speakers:

Professor Tapiwa Chagonda

Tapiwa is the Head of the Centre for Data Ethics (CDE) under the Institute of Intelligent Systems (IIS) at the University of Johannesburg and is also the Vice-Chair of UJ’s Senate Research Ethics Committee.

Prof Natasja Holtzhausen

Natasja is the Interim Director of the Centre for the future of work at the University of Pretoria. Her expertise includes: Ethics, corruption, whistle blower protection, organisational studies, work-integrated learning, graduateness, education and e-learning, service/ community based learning, the future of work.

Mrs Doris Viljoen

Doris is the director of the Institute for Futures Research (IFR) at Stellenbosch Business School, where she endeavours to interpret global as well as local trends and assess their relevance for South Africa and Africa.

Prof Antoinette Weibel and Otti Vogt

Prof Weibel is a Professor for Human Resources Management at the University of St. Gallen and director of the Institute for Work and Employment Research, University of St.Gallen. Her research focuses on Human Resources, Organizational Studies and Organizational Psychology. Her recent research projects center on stakeholder distrust, trust and (new) controls,as well as active trust. She is a ground-breaking expert in trust research and work on changing organizations from “suffering machines" to life-giving spaces.

With Otti Vogt, who is a disruptive thinker and former COO at ING, she initiated the movement #goodorganisations.