Guerrilla Theory examines the political, ontological, and technological underpinnings of the guerrilla in the digital humanities (DH). The figure of the guerrilla appears in digital humanities’ recent history as an agent of tactical reformation. It refers to a broad swath of disciplinary desires: digital humanities’ claim to collaborative and inclusive pedagogy, minimal and encrypted computing, and a host of minoritarian political interventions in its praxis, including queer politics, critical race studies, and feminist theory.
In this penetrating study, Matthew Applegate uses the guerrilla to connect popular iterations of digital humanities’ practice to its political rhetoric and infrastructure. By doing so, he reorients DH’s conceptual lexicon around practices of collective becoming, mediated by claims to conflict, antagonism, and democratic will.
The book pairs a theory-driven analysis of DH minoritarian interventions alongside contemporary political theory. It traces Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s radical democratic ingresses into network theory, the guerrilla’s role in its discourse, and concerns for DH’s own invocation of the figure. The book also connects post- and decolonial, feminist, and Marxist iterations of DH praxis to the aesthetic histories of actually existing guerrilla movements, such as Latin American Third Cinema, New York–based Black Mask’s antirepresentational politics, and the documentary cinema of the Black Panther Party.
Concluding with a meditation on contemporary political modalities inherent in DH’s disciplinary expansion, Guerrilla Theory offers a concept of DH as a form of critical university studies, challenging DH’s current political scope, and thus its future institutional impact.