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Methods and Materials for South/Southeast Asian Studies: GIS and Digital Humanities

Introduction to methods, materials, and recent scholarship in the humanities and social sciences within South and Southeast Asian Studies.

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What is GIS? What are Digital Humanities?

Continuing our move towards more quantitative techniques, we now move into Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Digital Humanities. Both of these methods are highly quantitative, but, unlike other quantitative methods, they are widely used not just in the social sciences, but in the humanities as well.

GIS, or Geographic Information Systems, consists of digital data that is then displayed and rendered spatially (i.e. into/on a map) by GIS software. To put it simply (and make a lot of GIS specialists angry), it is a program that allows you to display and analyze spatial data. GIS software is designed for professionals to carry out a wide array of very specific and nuanced tasks; however, for many basic applications it is not difficult at all! In fact, I would dare say it’s EASY! Don’t be intimidated! I’ve included some great resources to get you started, and, of course, you should get in touch with Yale’s GIS Librarian for more information on upcoming training sessions, class options, etc.  

Digital humanities encompass a variety of techniques including text analysis, visual analysis, spatial analysis, and network analysis. What holds them all together is the use of digital tools in arts, humanities, and social science research. Often this means working with materials originally published digitally, but it can also include working with texts and like that have been digitized after appearing in print.

GIS at Yale and the DH Lab

Librarian for South and Southeast Asian Studies