This paper seeks to provide a description and reflection on some of the structural problems and challenges faced when developing a digital humanities (DH) project in a Mexican public university.
As DH is a relatively new field and practice in Mexican academia, this article is based on a case study of developing the Biblioteca Digital de Pensamiento Novohispano (Digital Library of New Hispanic Thought). This is one of the few DH at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), the largest public university in the country.
It was found that there were three central problems for developing a DH project in a Mexican public university: existing technical knowledge and abilities at the UNAM will be challenged by DH projects; projects are the place to train human resources in DH methodology; and researchers need to consider different long‐term infrastructure and hosting solutions, with or without using institutional infrastructure, at the same time researches need to work within the institution to establish a specific policy for research projects.
The paper concludes that the structure, goals and products of DH projects need to be modified and expanded in order to also consider alternative goals and products such as: proposals of institutional policy, creation of infrastructure and academic and student training. DH projects must be regarded as disruptive, that is that the project needs to assume rupture as a part of the project itself.
The experience of innovation and disruption is not necessarily the same in all fields and all institutions. This article documents for the first time the particular experiences of a public university in a developing country with DH projects. It has been found that the delay in using computers in the humanities in Mexico has led to the development of a specific paradox: a gap between institutional interest and disposition in the use of computers in humanities, and the lack of DH culture in those who have to develop the project.
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