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Conference Report: Pacific Neighbourhood Consortium 2019

Constellations, Issue 5

Michael Stanley-Baker

Jun 30, 2020 | News

In October 2019, the School of Humanities hosted the Pacific Neighbourhood Consortium’s (PNC) annual conference on Digital Humanities, Library Science and Infomatics. 

Established in 1993, the consortium was first initiated by the University of California, Berkeley in partnership with academic institutions in the Pacific Rim. Since 1997, the administrative operations of the PNC have been transferred to Academia Sinica in Taiwan.

The mission of the PNC is to facilitate exchanges of information among institutions of higher education in the Pacific Rim on the topics of computing, and communications technology. PNC explores issues of information and technology, cultural exchange, and interdisciplinary collaboration. By fostering access to digitized data on the Pacific Rim, the PNC serves as a portal for access to new and innovative research. It helps scholars to find the library, archive, and museum resources needed to support both teaching and research.

The conference brought together scholars and researchers from fields including information technology, humanities, and social sciences, to discuss the main theme of Regionality and Digital Humanities: South-South Connections. The conference explored a range of topics, such as heritage and conservation, emergent digital cultures, digital arts and literary studies, and historical geography. The scientific program consisted of thought-provoking keynote speeches, paper presentations, and workshops, as well as a poster session and demo.


NTU President, Professor Subra Suresh opened the conference with the following words: 

“Digital Humanities is fast spreading at tertiary institutions around the world as a powerful medium to bring together nuanced humanistic inquiry with large-scale statistical analysis. It offers a bridge between the humanities and the sciences, and between quantitative and qualitative methods of inquiry. Now, more than ever, the disciplinary scalpel of the humanistic disciplines of history, philosophy, literature, and cultural studies must be brought to bear on the rapidly emerging field of data that the sciences have made available to government and the private sector. The fields comprising the disciplinary cluster we now think of as the humanities have paved the way for the re-engineering of our public institutions to meet the standards of a modern society and a global citizenry: the invention of the printing press in 16th century Germany; the organization of modern bureaucracy in the 17th century; the French Enlightenment impetus to transition the hospital from a place to die to a social locus for recovery of health in the 19th century; and the guiding principles and practical educational policies that inform 21st  century multiculturalism. Each  of these institutional revolutions was generated by humanistic scholars set on mobilizing technology for the greater good of fellow citizens.”

“We strongly support the Digital Humanities at NTU and are proud to partner with Academia Sinica in welcoming the annual Pacific Neighbourhood Consortium conference to Singapore. The Pacific Neighbourhood Consortium has had a long history since its founding in Berkeley in the 1990s and through its transition to one of the premiere Sinological institutes in East Asia, namely: the Institute of History and  Philology at Academia Sinica, Taipei. Many prestigious institutions of higher education and research have hosted this conference in the past. We are proud to join their ranks in hosting researchers in Singapore and to our campus, to exchange knowledge and foster collaboration, and to share with you the great work being done in Digital Humanities at NTU. This conference marks the entry of NTU Digital Humanities onto the world stage as one of the leading centres and a resource for Digital Humanities in the Southeast Asia region.” 

Overall there were over 120 participants from 11 countries. Keynotes were given by:

  • Vanessa Evers, Director of NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity (NISTH),
  • Bor-Chen Kuo, Director of Department of Information and Technology Education, Ministry of Education
  • Jieh Hsiang, Distinguished Professor, Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering, National Taiwan University
  • Kenneth Dean, Raffles Professor of Humanities and Head, Chinese Studies Department, National University of Singapore
  • Yue-Gau Chen, Distinguished Research Fellow, Research Center for Environmental Changes, Academia Sinica
  • The Anh Dao, Vice President of Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences