Launching a Center/Initiative + Archaeology and DH – Ethan’s Mixed Bag of Topics

In typical fashion, I can’t contain myself to one topic.  So, here are a couple of ideas.  Also, be sure to check out the Just Playing Around session that Brian Croxall and I co-proposed

I proposed this first session last year, and there was a fair amount of interest in it….so, I’m offering it up again

Launching (and sustain) a DH Initiative/Center/Research Group/SiG

There are a lot of people self organizing into groups (formal or informal) at institutions in order to collaborate, connect, and GTD.  Being the Associate Director of MATRIX: The Center for the Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online and Director of the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative at Michigan State University, I’ve got some experience in this domain – and would love to talk with people who are thinking about launching something at their institution, and give them some thoughts from my perspective (what worked, what didn’t, what I’ve had to do, etc, etc, etc).  Likewise, I would love to talk with others who’ve successfully launched something at their institution.

Archaeology & DH: Two Great Tastes That Should Taste Great Together (so why the hell don’t they)?

Everyone in DH is talking about “the big tent” as a metaphor for constructing the boundaries of DH (who is in, who is out – who is a digital humanist, and who is not).  In the meantime (and to continue the metaphor), archaeologists (specifically anthropological archaeologists) are so far away from the “tent” that they don’t even know it exists.  Why is this?  You would think that archaeology and DH would be natural (and very happy) bedfellows.  Many of the disciplines that self identify as being part of DH (history, classics, etc.) articulate very nicely with archaeology (and have done so for many years).  On top of that, archaeology has long been invested in a wide variety of digital practices (since as early as 1954).  So, what is the problem?  As someone who has a foot in both of these worlds (and who things and writes about these questions a lot), I think there are a few fruitful things to talk about:

  • Why is there a separation between archaeology and DH?
  • What can DH learn/gain from archaeology (there is quite a bit, actually). This is probably the most important point here.
  • For the DH’ers, how can you work with archaeology and archeologists (lets call this the “The DH Handbook of Archaeology and Archaeologists”)?

About Ethan Watrall

I'm Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology ( and Associate Director of Matrix:The Center for Digital Humanities & Social Sciences at Michigan State University ( In addition, I'm director of the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative at MSU (

1 thought on “Launching a Center/Initiative + Archaeology and DH – Ethan’s Mixed Bag of Topics

  1. An archaeologist headed your way! I’m new to all this and I agree, perfect match! I’ve been working on a digital exhibit of 18th & 19th century industrial sites in Redding, CT…So many of us are so busy working backward in technology that we forget to move forward. Very much looking forward to this!

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