Interdisciplinary collaboration and brokerage in the digital

Anela Chan, Richard Chenhall, Tamara Kohn, Carolyn Shannon Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Interdisciplinary collaboration brings the benefit of multiple perspectives to a research project, yet it also provides opportunities for reflection on each discipline’s knowledge base. This article presents a case study in interdisciplinary collaboration between two disparate fields, web development and anthropology. We explore the challenges of translating between domains with differing values, aims and methodologies, as well as issues that arose for us during the development of a web application designed to provide a digital output of an ethnographic project. We consider our experience using the Agile style of software development, which emphasises rapid prototyping, iteration and even failure. In the long run, we find negative experiences in web development can be more valuable than the positive ones. The concept of ‘knowledge brokerage’ is a useful term to describe the collaboration between the academics – who were forced to conceptualise their data in new ways – and the developer – who negotiated these transitions between abstract information and binary data, and between academia and a public-facing web application.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalDigital Humanities Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • digital humanities
  • software engineering
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration
  • sensory anthropology

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