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VHC 2021 Announced!

In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Virginia Humanities Conference will be held ONLINE over two two-day periods in March and April 2021, on the theme of “Democracy, Technology, and Social Justice: Humanities in an Unequal World.”

For decades, our global society has treated technology as essentially an issue for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) experts. Today, it is becoming increasingly evident that technology is a comprehensive issue that demands leadership from humanists to secure democratic institutions and democratic outcomes. The growth of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cybernetics (human-machine combining) demonstrate the social, ethical, cultural, and political dimensions of technology. From facial recognition software used by law enforcement to the influence of digital media on elections to autonomous weapons systems in the military to synthetic biology in healthcare, our world is increasingly forced to confront the human side of technology and its impact on equity, human rights, and formation of a just society. Kai-Fu Lee, the former head of Google China and author of AI Superpowers, has cautioned that the greatest challenge that AI will bring in the future concerns human identity and wealth inequality. Ruha Benjamin (Race After Technology) and Achille Mbembe (Necropolitics) have warned that the digital future of humanity will be shaped by the global history of racism. Yuval Harari (Homo Deus) has predicted humans will willingly surrender democratic institutions to embrace the benefits of algorithmic governance. 

What is the role of humanities in an unequal world whose uncertainties and possibilities are especially heightened and influenced by technology? Can global humanities traditions offer any insights? Do existing and emerging technologies prompt us to reimagine how humanists might conduct their work? Witnessing the historic social issues exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, how might academic humanists advance the mission of public humanities? As the modern world faces a deepening of inequality and systemic attacks on the humanity of vulnerable populations, what relevance might humanities have for social justice in our current world?

We invite proposals for individual papers and panel presentations on any topic that engage with humanities. We especially encourage proposals that engage with the sponsored theme of “Democracy, Technology, and Social Justice: Humanities in an Unequal World.” We also welcome proposals that engage with humanities topics beyond the sponsored theme.

The Virginia Humanities Conference encourages participation from a broad audience to explore the role of humanities for technology and democracy in an unequal world. We welcome participation from academic institutions, civic organizations, government, non-profits, private industry, and unaffiliated experts to present papers, discussions, and panels based on their area of specialization. 

Please submit a 250 word abstract online at Deadline for submissions is January 15, 2021. Direct any questions to Sylvester Johnson,

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VHC2020 Canceled

In the interest of being a good public citizen, James Madison University will be cancelling or postponing all events hosted at JMU’s facilities between Monday, March 16 and at least Sunday, April 5. This includes events hosted by the university, and community and student organizations.  As a result, this year’s Virginia Humanities Conference is cancelled.   

For those of you who registered for the Virginia Humanities Conference, please know that we will begin refunding fees early next week.  For most of you, this should be a fairly simple process of returning funds through PayPal or a credit card or returning/shredding a check.  Please note that refunds will only be provided for individual registrants; institutional fees are annual and support the VHC in its year round activities.  These will not be refunded.

Information about rescheduling the conference will be forthcoming as soon as possible.

If you have any questions regarding refunding fo fees, please contact VHC Treasurer Kirk Richardson at

Thank you for your interest in the Virginia Humanities Conference and stay healthy.

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VHC 2020: Saturday Digital Humanities Workshop

Saturday Workshop for Participants: “Enhancing Digital Humanities”

Shayne Brandon, UVASaturday, March 28, Shayne Brandon will be leading a workshop for participants on “Enhancing Digital Humanities.” He will be sharing tools and techniques  that facilitate story-telling and accessibility by doing more with 3D models, 360 degree photography, audio, and video by combining the different types of media to create art, talking models, and virtual tours.

Shayne Brandon is a Photogrammetry and 3D model visualization specialist at the University of Virginia.  He uses aerial photography and photogrammetry to augment ground-based LIDAR scan data in order to form complete 3D models of historic sites.  In addition to these tools, Shayne uses high-resolution 360 degree cameras to capture immersive photographs and video.  He enjoys using new technology to capture moments in time and sharing the results with others.

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