I’m reporting on the Matariki Digital Humanities Colloquium at Queen’s University (October 23-25)—belatedly, perhaps because I’ve been trying to decide what the most impactful part of the colloquium was for me.
There were, of course, the usual good things about conferences. I saw the colleagues who have become dear friends, and felt the particular happiness that is being in the same room as people with whom I sustain close personal and professional relationships despite absurd, sometimes trans-Atlantic, distances. I met new friends and colleagues whose genuine offers of support came easily to them. And I had the chance to share material that I’ve been developing incrementally over the last three years.
But I think the best thing for me was seeing teachers and researchers voice concerns that rise out of their specific institutional contexts, and knowing that some of the work that I’ve been part of at Queen’s can offer a way to solve those issues. If the Matariki Network hadn’t facilitated representatives from its various universities to get in a room and talk, these conversations wouldn’t have happened.
I suppose we call this networking: I have a need, and you can fill it, so let’s make a mutually beneficial professional connection. And networking often feels like a mercenary activity that we’re pushed to engage in, often in an environment of proscribed resources, funding, and people power. But my research lately has been pushing me to think more about how connectedness works, how networks support the production of the work that I study. This research has taken a pretty solitary form. Feeling connectedness made my research come alive in a new way.