Peter Bol introduces digital experts Chen Hsi-yuan, Hilde De Weerdt, Christian Henriot, and Sophy Shu-Jiun Chen

Mapping the Future of Digital Humanities in Asia

Hundreds of International Scholars Join ‘Tools of the Trade’ Conference

On March 14-16, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and other Harvard centers co-convened Harvard’s first international digital humanities conference, bringing together top digital experts, researchers, and librarians from China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Europe, and North America. Over three days, the experts discussed the transition from print to digital tools, databases, and platforms in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese and Buddhist studies. 

At the conference, “Tools of the Trade, The Way Forward,” experts shared cutting edge databases, technologies, and exemplary projects that are influencing historical research across Asian studies, allowing scholars to track information and connections made accessible by advanced computing. Exemplary projects presented at the conference ranged from new approaches to textual analysis of classical Chinese poetry to a new digital hub for Japan studies and a project working on network analysis of Buddhist Dharma lineages in Choson Korea.

“Frankly, we did not expect such a degree of interest,” said Peter Bol, Charles H. Carswell Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, who organized the conference together with Kwok-leong Tang, Digital China Fellow at the Fairbank Center. “The 100 presentations introduced an extraordinary set of open-access tools, databases, and platforms from research centers, libraries, and individuals. The digital humanities are integral to the study of the past and present, but there is much to be done. What are the skill sets required for researchers in the digital age? How can we develop a cyberinfrastructure that overcomes political and linguistic barriers so that different databases and platforms can be productively linked together? What will be the role of generative AI be in research and teaching on East Asia? These are questions that concern us all.”

The Harvard University Asia Center, the Korea Institute, the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, the Harvard-Yenching Library, and the Department of East Asian Literature and Civilization co-presented the conference, with additional support from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, the Digital China Initiative, the Harvard College Library, and the Harvard China Fund.

For projects and presentations, click here: