New Digital Worlds

My first monograph, New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy, was published by Northwestern University Press in November 2018. In the book, I explore how the emergence of digital humanities has been heralded for its commitment to openness, access, and the democratization of knowledge but raises a number of questions with respect to race, gender, sexuality, disability, and nation. Postcolonial digital humanities, I argue, is one approach to uncovering and remediating inequalities in digital knowledge production. New Digital Worlds traces the formation of postcolonial studies and digital humanities as fields, identifying how they can intervene in knowledge production in the digital age. It further examines the role of colonial violence in the development of digital archives, colonialist dimensions of global organizations supporting digital humanities research, pedagogical approaches that can intervene in decentering the Global North in digital knowledge production, and human futures that reconsider how algorithms and natural language processing software produce universalist notions of the human.


New Digital Worlds has been adopted for classes at universities including the University of Pittsburgh, University of Nebraska, Bowling Green State University, and College of William and Mary. If you adopt the book for a class, drop me an email and I’d be happy to arrange for a Skype visit with your class. Use the promo code NUP18 for 25% off New Digital Worlds when ordering from Northwestern University Press.


“This book speaks to a vibrant and emerging field, offering a unique and important contribution to postcolonial studies in engagement with digital humanities. This exciting and generative study will instigate new dialogues about the relations between technology and power, digital worlds and social justice in a global context.”

—Kavita Daiya, author of Violent Belongings: Partition, Gender, and National Culture in Postcolonial India

“Our cultural record lives today in the still misunderstood flux between analog and digital media. What Roopika Risam accomplishes in this book is nothing short of unmasking the transnational forces that shape that material reality, and she does so in the very act of opening up a framework for the production of an anticolonial counter-record. A major book by one of those rare voices who transforms the stakes of the game not only through her analysis but in the praxis it points to.”

—Alex Gil, Digital Scholarship Librarian and co-founder of xpmethod, Columbia University

“Risam has accomplished the rare feat of crafting a monograph that is simultaneously scholarly, engaging, and applicable…. New Digital Worlds has a thoughtful and refreshingly different read on, and criticism of, digital humanities. There’s something to consider for people in a wide variety of roles, from librarians who develop (or purchase) corpora, to museum and archives folks who directly grapple with issues around cultural heritage materials, to developers who build digital humanities tools and projects, to scholars and instructors engaged with research and/or teaching, to students who are trying to choose a focus for their own scholarship.”

—Quinn Dombrowski, Academic Technology Specialist, Stanford University

“The arguments themselves were compelling, but I found myself captivated by [Risam’s] methodology. As advertised, the book was indeed equal parts theory to praxis to pedagogy, and I found this endeavor to be postcolonial in and of itself. I admired the way she took care with her terms, sacrificing no nuance in her quest for clarity and readability…. In her work, Dr. Risam gave me a model for the type of scholarship I ultimately would like to do.”

—Ravynn Stringfield, Ph.D. Candidate, College of William and Mary