Reflection 1 (Ben)

For this summer I am excited to mix my knowledge of history with a new platform, Digital Humanities, specifically for my project, GIS mapping. As a History major and Art History minor, I have gained research and understanding skills that I have only been able to exhibit through papers or basic projects, but the Digital Humanities Summer Scholar Program will allow me to apply my prior learning and expertise in a new way. Furthermore, GIS mapping, and digital humanities in general are up-and-coming approaches to scholarship that help to alleviate a problem that has irked me ever since delving deeper into my history education: the disconnect between common discourse and historical research. Through the creation of a GIS mapping, I would attempt to fill in this gap in common discourse and learning, and create a historical mapping of Jewish Life before the Holocaust. However, I haven’t decided yet exactly which specific time period/migration to focus on which makes determining what specific aspects i’ll want to include/exclude tougher.

I am invested in the topic of historical Jewish migrations as a result of my recent connection to my personal past that I have explored through an academic inquiry. Growing up in a mostly secular background, I was distanced from the reality of my religious and cultural Jewish heritage. However, for the past few years an interest in this aspect of my life has expanded and as a result I have participated in a scholarly exploration of Jewish culture which has materialized in the form of research as well as travel to sites of Jewish history, including Israel during the winter of 2016. My GIS project allows me an opportunity for expanded research through new platform.  

When reflecting on the ambition of my project in regards to the limited time period, I realize that I need to come up with a very specific topic to focus on. Because Jewish history is characterized by migrations, I anticipate it will be hard to commit my research to a single one. Furthermore, I expect that determining exactly what kind of sources to use for my research will be a challenge. Initially I envisioned using census data from a variety of cities to track migration patterns, however, this would be a very tedious technique and most likely would only work for a more broad and expansive project. I may attempt to use a single traveler journal or diaries from a particular group of travelers to have a more condensed and defined set of sources if I can find appropriate ones. I think that the decision of a certain migration will come after the determination of sources; my exact topic will depend on the type of sources that I ultimately decide to use.  

Reflection (john)

I chose this project because, as an artist, I know the difficult process behind writing lyrics. I believe that every word is pregnant with meaning and this project operates under that. I specifically chose the To Pimp A Butterfly album because this was the first conscious rap album I have seen garner public attention, and awards. Usually, radios and mainstream outlets prefer to play music that revolves around partying, but TPAB songs managed to top charts while critiquing the very community we are apart of; the true aim of rap/hip-hop.

Discussing pro-black messages from the album is a mandatory element that cannot be changed. My time briefing with Adam opened my eyes to the fact that the album may provide a plethora of topics or evidence for my project. Given this realization, I want to extract songs that pertain to the black experience and see if research supports the message. Thus, I aim to unpack and provide “scholarly” evidence to his claims because, even though the album was popular enough to obtain a Grammy, people still think the black experience is a matter of fiction in America society. My search of evidence would ideally help me critique if social issues within the black community have improved over the past few years. I would argue that this album is the appropriate choice for my project because Kendrick Lamar succeeds well at portraying the black experience. He currently a high charting artist who speaks bluntly about social issues over sonically impressive tracks. Also, the album is highly respected and was awarded Best Rap Album of 2015.

My biggest challenge would be sifting through the massive amount of content in the album to find songs that are topical. Certain songs may require deeper analysis to see if a message lies underneath because they are complex and sometimes confusing. A potential challenge could be finding articles that are relevant to the black experience. However, if I do not, that would be intriguing because it would show how important documenting and discussing the black experience is to the academic community. I must be clear on what songs I am going to discuss by the end of the first week the latest.

In regards to my readiness for this program, the late great Marvin Gaye said it best, “Let’s get it on”.

On Songs and Stories

Sometimes, I like to think of myself as a storyteller.  I have always been that child on the bus to sit quietly and watch the exhausted mother rock her baby to sleep while her two boys fuss over who is more smarter than who before she reaches over and pinches both of them on the lips as a kind of warning of the whooping that might come their way.  I have always been the child to chuckle to myself as I eavesdrop on the drunk old men gathered at the door of the grocery store boasting about who can still get these young things pregnant.  Science fiction or superheroes never interested me as much as engaging with stories of people reckoning with the fullness of their humanity.  And that’s what folk songs are for me – stories about survival.  They remind me that despite systematic violence and silencing, my foreparents chose to sing about victory and pain and death and hope and joy and love and sex.  Yes, sex.  Who wants to think about their parents having sex, much less their great-great-great (great-great…) grandparents doing the genital gyration?  Me.  Maybe not for the reasons you’re thinking (shame on you), but because we have a way of obscuring history by rendering invisible the narratives that do not serve us.  It’s not enough to think of our foreparents as revolution leaders.  Of course, we do this in an attempt to humanize them, but how do we deny them the fullness of their humanity if we do not engage in excavating the mundanities of life?  What made them laugh?  What made them jealous?  How did they think about the future?  We must wrestle with these questions if we are truly interested in undoing the assault that the purveyors of history have launched on the dignity of our forefathers.  I’m interested in using folk songs as an instrument to interpret Jamaican sexuality.  In a colonial world where my foreparents’ bodies were deemed property, I am interested in the ways they contested that claim by exercising personal agency (however compromised) over their own bodies.

During this summer internship, I hope to learn about how to use other modes of knowledge production to shape my project.  Specifically, I would like to learn to create an accessible and interactive website on which viewers can not only listen to folk song recordings, but also view videos of people singing and talking about the meaning of the songs.  I would like to choose 15-20 songs along the historical timeline (1650-1962) and analyze them for a reading of heteronormative gender relations and queered gender relations.  However, I know I might have to think about selecting a historical timeline that is practical given the time constraints within which I am working.  I’m also especially interested in whether colonial ontologies of Jamaican sexuality are recognizable in modern musical traditions such as reggae and dancehall.

I would like to draw upon the established academic literature (including ethnographies) regarding Afro-Jamaican life under colonialism.  It will definitely be challenging to find all my sources, which is partly because folk songs are an oral tradition and their lyrics aren’t always transcribed and I also expect to encounter some challenges in finding people to talk about the sexually suggestive nature of the music, but I hope to counter that problem by working through a network of Jamaican academics who may have greater knowledge of and access to those resources than I do.  Additionally, while I’m absolutely open to reformatting or reshaping the questions I am asking, I really want to maintain the idea of using music (of any Jamaican genre) to interpret Jamaican sexuality.

I’m so excited to be working on this project and have started to do preliminary reading (“From Field to Platform” by Pamela O’Gorman “Out and Bad: Toward a Queer Performance Hermeneutic in Jamaican Dancehall” by Nadia Ellis) and I started to reach out to Jamaican academics who may be able to help me tell the story of Jamaican sexuality through folk music.  This project has personal and political meaning for me.  It’s a way for me to honor those who have come before me and contributing to the academic tradition that seeks to excavate our humanity.  Here’s to hoping I can do justice to that legacy and this project!

The Solitude of Latin America – Reflection One

In his 1982 Nobel Literature Prize acceptance speech, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a renowned Colombian author, said the following: “Latin America neither wants, nor has any reason, to be a pawn without a will of its own. Why is the originality so readily granted to us in literature so mistrustfully denied us in our difficult attempts at social change? Why think that the social justice sought by progressive Europeans for their own countries cannot also be a goal for Latin America, with different methods for dissimilar conditions?” This questioning has become the reason for the construction of my digital humanities project. Although seemingly unrelated to my original proposal, the need to go beyond the basic understanding of Latin America as a set of developing countries without a will of their own has become so powerful a force in my mind, that it would seem like a betrayal to my own self to not reflect upon the thoughts, in the span of six weeks, that have caused them to be.

As such, my digital humanities project will center around Bogota, the capital city and economic center of Colombia, my native country. The need for research is great in Colombia and it would be a disservice to my home country to ignore the opportunities presented to myself at Lafayette and not further extend any research attempts on Colombia with said opportunities. In the somewhat unrealistic hopes of creating something to be used by the government or citizens back home, this digital humanities project will be a stepping stone in understanding and eventually combating the problems my city has faced.

Admittedly, the full content and context of my research is not yet clear, though the aim is to analyze city-building and its relation to culture. But, both these topics are extensive. To narrow these topics down, a review of the literature is in order. To fully maximize research time, understanding what research has already been conducted seems like an important first task. Furthermore, as I will be using city structures and organization as a key part of my project, an understanding of how to acquire such data- if it exists- is also relevant. This data might turn out of be the biggest challenge of the project. Unlike cities in the US, most city building data isn’t digitized or organized as efficiently in Colombia. A further challenge is the limited scope that will have to be incorporated due to the lack of time. Consequentially, there might be a moment in time in which a narrow focus on certain parts of Bogota will have to be used. There is much to be said about Bogota that cannot be described in words. With more than seven million inhabitants it seems logical that Bogota is amid many cultures and it has become almost necessary to begin to understand how this city came to be and where the city is now.

There is much to be learned in these six weeks. Truthfully, expectations might be clouded by the excitement felt with starting a new, self-guided, research project. My peers will definitely be an important part of this experience as we will struggle, learn, lead, and succeed together, or not at all. These six weeks are also weeks of self-discovery as undergraduates, researchers, and human beings capable of independent thought. My expectations lean more towards myself than the actual internship. How far will I be able to stretch the limits of my own thought to interpret a reality seen easily in cities but not so visible on paper? The answer, if there is one, will only be clear in seven weeks.

Reflection 1

I expect this summer internship to be an opportunity for me to figure out what my interests are and hopefully further those interests. I am really interested in how ideas and perspectives are shaped. Therefore, I am interested in marketing and how advertisements affect the way people perceive others and the formation of stereotypes. I want to use this internship to go into more depth with the way advertisements shape perspectives and want to look at how the image of the working woman is shaped through advertisements. I also expect this internship to help me improve my research skills and overcome my weakness of technology.

When I was in high school, in my English class, we looked at propaganda techniques used during the World War 2 and how propaganda shaped the landscape in women’s role in the U.S. I really enjoyed the class and realized that advertisements do not only display the stereotypes, but they create them and play a huge role in normalizing them. This project also matters to me as a woman preparing to enter the workforce. I have done an externship at a financial services company where I was thought to be a man when only looked at my name. Because my name doesn’t give my sex away, they automatically thought I was a man since the field is male dominated. Also, last semester in my introductory psychology class, I based my research on gender stereotypes in the workforce and found that powerful positions in workforce were associated with male gender. I am excited to delve into how and why these perceptions are created and who creates them. I also am excited about the project, because it will give me an idea about marketing research and what the motives are behind the creation of ads.

Since we only have 6 weeks, I will need to narrow it down; however I don’t know how I will yet. I am planning to start with some readings next week, so I have an idea on where to focus once the program starts. I definitely want to circle my project around the image of the working woman, however, I am not sure what type of ads to use or what aspect of working woman to focus on. I also definitely want to look at today and compare it to another time which might either be 1940’s, which was a turning point for women in workforce in the U.S, or 1970’s, when the second wave feminism focusing on workplace inequalities took place.

I will be using scaler for my project and some coding might be involved. Having taken Computer Science 105 my first semester and ending up withdrawing it (I wasn’t lying when I said technology is a weakness of mine), that might be one of the challenges. Also, narrowing down resources will be a challenge since there is so many interesting ads about women in the workforce.

Besides all this, I know 6 weeks is a short time for all the ideas I have and I will just try to take one step at a time and not overwhelm myself or lower the quality of my research by trying to fit in too much in too little time. I will have my peers and librarians to always go to and ask for advice. So excited for this to start!




First Reflection

Talking to other scholars and how much they learned through this process, I expect to learn a lot of research tools that can help me with my future classes. I also expect this to be a lot of work, so I need to narrow down my topic, so I can get my working research topic done with in six weeks. My topic is about the Somali Refugees in the United States and the resettlement process. Focusing on the movement while they are in the United States “second migration” and what causes for a large Somali community to be in places like Minnesota and Maine. This is very close to home, so I expect to learn a lot more about what many Somalis go through as result of fleeing home.

I want to explore this topic because I always wondered who decides where refugee families are resettled to, and when they already here why they move to specific areas in this case Maine and Minnesota. I want to show this migration visually and share the story of some people and show their movement on the map.

It is important for me keep my daily assigned assignments done on time, so I have time to reflect on each part. Learning how to use maps would depend on how much practice I need with the program, so that part of the project would be flexible.

I need to narrow down my topic to something that I can do in six weeks, so that is the biggest challenge for me now. Finding all the information I need for this project could be another possible challenge. I plan to break down this project into pieces and just stick with the scheduled times for each part. I already started reading some books to get some more ideas of how to narrow down my topic and be ready for the start of the program.

I look forward to this project and working with everyone.

First Reflection

My anthropology professor approached me a few months ago to inform me about this internship opportunity. At the time, I had no idea what Digital Humanities was or how it worked. While the idea of learning to program and putting together a digital project is daunting, I am excited to do in depth research on a topic that matters to me.

With my family originally coming from Sweden and Peru, I have always been interested in the histories of these nations. However, when one thinks of Peru, one immediately thinks of Machu Picchu and the Incas, as well as to indigenous traditions and culture. Thinking of Sweden on the other hand, it is easy to discount the importance of indigenous culture and how the modernization of Scandinavia has affected their lives and influenced their native culture and habitat. Across the world, indigenous peoples have been affected by industrialization and even environmentalist movements. Seen as a part of nature or as even less than human, indigenous peoples have struggled to maintain authority over their own landscapes and ways of life over the push from national governments to develop the land or even preserve it as national parks. From a national perspective, it may seem like the right course to take, but doing so oppresses and manipulates the ways in which indigenous peoples get to live their lives.

While the Sami People now have more authority in Scandinavia then they have in the past, their landscape is changing. Efforts to preserve the forests in the arctic and to find alternative sources of energy (both valid and important efforts) have had an impact on the ability of Sami to hunt and raise their reindeer. Originally, my research question was focused on how conservation efforts have affected the land available to the Sami and to look into how the government perceives these people and their community. Now, as I have had time to think, my question is adapting. While I was in Stockholm visiting my family over spring break, my aunt asked me about the application I had sent in for this internship. When I mentioned that I was curious as to how conservation and arctic development has impacted the Sami community, she pointed out that her summer home was located in a Sami community—far from where they are originally considered to be from in the Arctic Circle. I know that Sami people in the past were forced to integrate with Swedish “modern” society (learning the language, going to Swedish schools, etc), but how do the Sami associate themselves with Sweden today? What are their motives for migration and how has that changed over time? This is a broad question that must be narrowed down, but I hope to outline how different Sami communities across Sweden have developed and how they interact with their areas. I want to look into different factors that have influenced Sami migration and by looking into the different communities that have formed, see how they have both maintained and adapted their tradition.

By doing this research, I hope to expose the importance of indigenous communities and their treatment. The removal of authority and legitimacy from indigenous peoples is a problem that exists across the world. Here in the United States Native Americans at Standing Rock, North Dakota have struggled and fought to maintain their mother—their home. In my Culture and the Environment Class, I watched a documentary about how the Beaver Lake Cree Nation in Alberta, Canada, has been removed access from a lake that is rightfully theirs. Yet, through it all, these people persist, and I wish to humanize them in ways that many people are unable to understand. These communities are strong and determined, even if their ways of life are perceived as inferior by others.

I am planning on using GIS to do digital mapping in order to display Sami migration in Sweden. I want to mark various Sami communities across the nation and describe the interaction with other people in the area as well as how they got to be where they are. This will not be a simple task. My question must be narrowed down and refined in order to achieve my goal in the six weeks that I have. Furthermore, I am unsure of how I will conduct my research. I am currently looking into different Swedish census websites and I plan to look at government documents as well, but I am not sure how consistent or informational my data will be in terms of what I am looking for. But overall, I am confident that this project will have the potential to create an impact. I am excited to get the opportunity to use Digital Humanities to portray my research. Digital Humanities gives me the ability to share on a wider scale than I could have ever imagined.

First Reflection (Tedi)

As I embark on this internship, I find myself holding high expectations for the upcoming weeks. In the interest of full disclosure, I have little experience conducting such immersive, in-depth research, so I’m excited to really seize a topic and embrace it. I expect (and hope) that I’ll discover something new in my studies. I expect to grow closer to my fellow scholars as we undertake this mission together, and I expect that I’ll learn from their differing perspectives and experiences, and hope that they’ll learn from mine in turn. I expect to be taught new techniques and methods (hopefully a bit of coding!) I expect that this experience will broaden my knowledge holistically, and not just on my topic of study.

My topic currently delves into instances of deviation from social norms by examining minority treatment on 21st century reality and dating television. I wanted to examine a low culture medium to see how such a commonly discarded phenomenon (reality TV) is still reflective of malignant cultural values. This topic is important to me for several reasons. First, I’m admittedly a somewhat closeted consumer of reality television myself. Simultaneously, I harbor an interest in modern social issues, like media visibility for minority populations. I wanted to examine these issues in the context of reality television in order to examine the intersection between pop culture and society. Reality television is so commonly discarded as unacademic waste; subsequently, many believe that there is nothing of intellectual value to be derived. I wanted to reject this notion by defending reality television as a admissible means of examining culture.

Throughout the project, I want to maintain a theme that places a critical lens over reality love and dating television. I would really like this critical lens to be an examination of age, race, ability, and sexual orientation. These are the main tenets of my project and I would like them to remain so. More flexible elements of my project include how I’m going to study these intersecting ideas. Currently, I imagine that I’ll examine instances of deviation and explore public reaction to such cases. An armless contestant on Bachelor in Paradise or a gay couple on Bachelor Australia come to mind. I also want to quantify these instances of deviation in a chart as well; for instance, a chart that illustrates the number of people of color on several relevant dating shows for the past 17 years. Perhaps a bar graph or pie chart would be the best way to graphically display this information. This part of my project, the accumulation and representation of data, is still flexible.

I can imagine encountering problems considering the scope of my project. I would consider limiting my project to one minority quadrant in order to slim my research, but I think a more comprehensive project would study several factions in order to draw multiple parallels as to varying minority treatments. I am also concerned that what I aim to study may not be quantifiable. I must find a scientific, empirical way to study what I want to study. Measuring how desirable the general public finds a certain person is not a realistic aim; examining public reaction to a certain instance is an academically permissible way to ascertain data. I hope that I can fathom my many questions into one arguable thesis.

When considering my time and resource constraints, I want to embrace a topic that is feasible. If the scope of my project is too large, or my ambitions too great, proper research will never be accomplished. A valuable resource for me will be the opinions and advice of my librarian associates and peers. I believe that this peer collaboration will be an essential component of me designing my project within my constraints. Sometimes, my fellows have a better idea of what is accomplishable than I do myself. If I feel as though my research may overextend the range of my resources, consulting with a friend or mentor should be greatly assistive.

I’m very excited to get started!