Reflection 2 (Ben)

Reflection 2

 

Wading through digital projects and readings, where are you finding your inspiration? What parts of things you’re reading and seeing resonate most with you? Where are the gaps in your research and what are you still looking for? What are your thoughts as you get started?

 

My project is already evolving just from delving deeper into my research as well as looking at different, comparable projects for inspiration. Last week we had to review three digital humanities projects and through that assignment I found Mapping the Rebellion. This project is a GIS mapping endeavour that implemented many innovative ideas that I think could work very well in my venture. Firstly, in Mapping the Rebellion, the creators decided to provide information through a series of platforms instead of solely through the map. They constructed an interactive timeline, as well as couple of audio podcasts that also provide relevant information. The timeline is particularly captivating to me because it takes some emphasis off of the map. I originally imagined creating a map that would show the progression of time but I think that producing a more static map may be more feasible, but I would be able to tell the story and visualize the progression of time through a timeline instead.

Another part of Mapping the Rebellion that I thought was encouraging was that the creators’ discussion of their data. They did a lot of research on the rebellion, but instead of providing as much information as possible, they picked and chose sections of material that they believed more relevant to their argument and project. I knew that I would not be able to provide all of the information about Jewish migrations, but actually seeing digital humanists discuss their decision to leave out some of their research and to still construct a sophisticated and academic project was encouraging.

The next step for me will be to continue finding sources and refining my subject and argument. I am already starting to select certain portions of materials that I think are essential to my project but I’m a little worried that I still will have too much if I continue on this path, so determining my goals is definitely necessary. Also I need to think about how exactly I want to portray my research in my map and timeline. I am attempting to use a collection of both primary and secondary sources but they provide different types of information. For instance, some primary sources display census statistics whereas the secondary sources are usually more analytical and textual. I need to consider whether I want to provide textual data or statistics or a mixture of both and how I am going to do that. I have also found good quotations from the secondary sources that I may want to preserve and display in my project as well for they help articulate the story that I am trying to tell and back up my central argument productively.

 

 

 

 

 

Second Reflection

I am currently reading Making Refuge: Somali Bantu Refugees and Lewiston, Maine. This book follows the unlikely story of few Somali minority individuals who their lives were demolished by civil war and direct discrimination against their people. In a small village called Banta, Catherine L. Besteman did her fieldwork in the late 1980s before the civil war destroyed the village and hundreds lost their lives.

This book follows the unlikely reunion of Besteman and few of the Banta residents who now are refugees in Lewiston, ME. As I read this book, I find myself imagining the lives of the people of Banta before things were a mess, when Somalia was stable, and recollecting the happier moments that my mom always talks about when she refers to anything before the civil war. Refugees are looked at as crisis, not as human beings that have stories, dreams and lives before the war. The more I read the stories of the people of Banta, the more I want to share similar personal stories of Somali refugees in the US. Some of the Banta residents are moving from other areas of the US to relocate in Lewiston, ME. I want to study if there is a similar trend of why people are moving away from their original resettlement homes to places like Maine.

This book is a good resource, but I still need a lot more data to track the second migration of the Somali refugees in the US. I am also not clear what mapping tool I am using to visually present my data. Those are some of the main things I still need to figure out.

As I get started, I really want to do justice of presenting and telling the stories of people, not only as unfortunate refugees, but also as individuals with passion and goals to achieve who find themselves in unfortunate situations. I hope this project humanizes the struggles of refugees and sheds some light on difficulties refugees face when they are resettled to foreign countries.

Second Reflection (Tedi)

The more I research, the clearer my project becomes, the sharper its image. I feel as though my final project comes into focus the more I twist the lens. Not to say that at times I don’t lost sight of my project completely, because I do—yesterday, I spent an hour mining television episodes, collecting useless data. But my overall idea, my overall vision, is so much more vivid today than it was yesterday, or the day before that, or two weeks ago. And it’s exciting. Exciting to feel yourself fathom something and build it. Exciting to collect clues and solve a mystery. Sometimes my project is a hovering, enigmatic orb, and today more than I ever I feel closer towards grounding it, materializing it, and making it something.

I’m inspired by the injustice of it; conversations about race, class, queerness that somehow exclude disability. Disability is so often forced to rest dormant on the backburner of progressive agendas while shouldering the burden of everyday inequality. As I progress further into the literature behind modern disability theory, and disability in film and literature, I find myself driven to support greater media representation for the 1 in 5 Americans that labor under a disability.

I find myself wanting to treat these issues with both the delicacy and the weight they deserve. I seek to straddle the line between rightful outrage and sanctimonious preaching. I also want to avoid patronizing the disabled community; part of being a responsible ally is listening to how disabled people want to be represented instead of speaking over their voices. Though I’m not sure if ally is the correct word for my role, or my intended role; as someone who struggles with a disorder that fluctuates between normally dormant but occasionally debilitating, I find myself somewhere between community member and community ally. Am I an impassioned confederate or a detached researcher? What’s my place, and do I even deserve to have one?
In my research, it’s been surprisingly difficult (and disheartening) to find instances of disability represented on reality love and dating TV. Considering that around 19% of the American population lives with a non-severe or severe disability, such a void in representation seems like discrimination, regardless of intent. Still, I’ll continue to spend hours pouring over bizarre dating show after bizarre dating show, in the hopes of finding contestants that don’t conform to archetypal expectations of ability.

After perusing various digital projects online, one in particular struck me— “The Story of the Stuff.” The format was a web documentary, almost like an online book. The design features a clean and simple text-heavy format with accompanying illustrations. I really want to model my project after the design and flow of this web documentary. I want to do a text-based narrative with chapters featuring case studies. I’m even considering doing illustrations for the online project, to give it a cohesive and aesthetically pleasing feel. I’m excited for what is developing and what is to come, though I expect it won’t be entirely devoid of encumbering setbacks.

2017 Project Reviews

Project Review Guidelines

Due: May 23, midnight, posted to the page.

 

Find three digital projects that are similar to yours in either method or content. Provide a link, a summary, and both positives and negatives. What did you learn from using or visiting this site that might be helpful in your own project?

In your research, make sure to look at the *about* page if they have one; many digital projects aim to be transparent about their processes.

 

Sites that discuss projects:

http://www.dhinitiative.org/projects/list

http://dhcommons.org/projects

(others are assigned in the syllabus)

 

Questions to Consider (you do not need to answer all of these every time)

 

  1. What is the purpose of the project?
  2. What tools does it use? Does it use them effectively?
  3. What data sources does it use? Does it add something to the field of study? Is it contributing a methodology, expansion of access, a critical lens? Is it doing that well?
  4. How well-maintained is this project? What supports it (1 scholar, a team, a grant?)
  5. What lessons can be drawn from this example?

Camilla Samuelsson

http://scalar.usc.edu/works/race-and-migration-in-the-united-states-/index

A Digital Pop-up: Latina and Latino Mobility in 20th Century California, uses a Scalar web exhibition to present migration to California throughout history. The project uses digital archives and photographic collections from the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University to build the exhibition. The Scalar site has many components comprised of a blog that discusses the historical texts with current events, as well as digital reviews, and student portfolios. The objective of this project is to open up opportunities for expression and representation for minorities in digital technologies.

This project uses intersectional research to display how the mobility of latina/o communities in California has been perceived and affected. The use of Scalar in this project seems effective, the website is nicely put together and easy to understand, but it is not super advanced in terms of display. Different links on the side panel lead to blog entries, images in an exhibition, and discussions of current events through a historical lens.

The Migrant Object Exhibit shows images chosen by Yale students that describe migrant objects that reflect their own migration to New Haven, CT. I think this is an interesting project component because it doesn’t directly reflect the actual research done in this project but They include details on the meanings of their objects, such as the Virgen de Guadalupe, an object representing how “spiritual guidance” has helped a student through protection and remembrance of their roots. The objects have their own mobility as they traveled to Yale with their students and represent the ways in which mementos support them. Drawing upon my reading of The Land of Open Graves by Jason de Leon, I understand how this exhibit of their own personal experiences of migration emphasize the paths people take. Additionally, they compare very nicely to migration across the US-Mexico border and how migrants struggle in the desert, but keep their mementos—pieces of their humanity, their families, their spirit—with them as they face the grasp of death in order to get to a better place.

The next exhibit tackles Latin@ Mobility in 20th Century California, which is the objective of the project. The exhibit moves geographically from the border to further north in Central California. The exhibit uses media objects to display important factors and migration motives, including huelgas or strikes, different organizations that developed, and maps to visualize the migration. The exhibit follows a “path” discussing space for Mexican-Americans and the approaches taken to dismantle their communities by the United States Government, as well as the development of “Chicano pride.”

While these exhibits are not perfectly clear to me as an outside reader, they use vibrant visuals and engaging discussions and captions to display the research and their exhibited objects. I think that through the blog posts, analyses of their data and objects in a review, and ultimately the digital exhibitions, this project does contribute to the field of study. It highlights transition, pride, power, and struggle, and helps me, a member of the audience, understand the significance of this migration and how it has shaped California today. As a California native, I see the spaces for Chicana/o culture and pride in my everyday life. As a Latina as well, I enjoy the presence of Latina/o cultural demonstrations in my home cities, but I also understand the racial struggle for legitimacy and representation at the state and national level. Latin@ migrants and Americans have struggled to develop their spaces over time, meeting obstacles such as takeovers of their parks and gathering spots, and fights to remove them from the country. It has not been easy, but this project really balances the presence of culture and the obstacles that the culture has faced. I think this project would be better understood and visualized with more maps and emphasis on the paths taken by Mexican migrants. There are a lot of important components to the website, but I find the order to be slightly confusing, and that it can be easy to go off in another direction than the main goal of the website.

This project is supported by Yale University through the Department of History and Department of Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. Contributers include undergraduate students, postgraduates, and others at Yale in a class called HIST/ERM 129 that discusses 20th Century California and Latina/o mobility who designed the website, as well as Yale faculty. Genevieve Carpio is listed as a main collaborator, and looking her up I found that she was a fellow in the Department of History at Yale, but is now a professor in the Department of Chicana/o Studies at the University of California—Los Angeles.

http://www.dhinitiative.org/projects/refugee

The Refugee Project at Hamilton College while still in Phase-1, consists of documentaries about the city of Utica as well as accounts from refugees themselves. It has been created and worked on by both students and faculty at Hamilton College. It works to visualize practices, rituals, and cultural events that refugees partake in on a daily basis. Refugees come from Bosnia, Iraq, Somalia, Ukraine and Burma. Students work by conducting background research and filming these oral archives.

This project has many layers, from reviews of Journalistic Sources such as newspapers and television stations, as well as interviews with refugees, which inquire about employment and education, and adaptation to the United States regarding their cultural practices and traditions, are transcribed and taped to be placed on the website. The objective of this project is to expand participation and allow for participation and collaboration from various refugee centers around the world. Finally, this project involves creating short films to represent different aspects of refugee life in Utica. This site, while still in its early stages, has a few videos listed that depict refugee life. The components of this project help create a story for refugees in America. They represent refugees as members of a larger network, and emphasize the starting of a new life away from home.

As of right now, there are two videos around 10 minutes long on the site. The first one, “The Newcomers,” starts with an interview with a Burmese woman who left Burma during an attack on her village, who described how everyone fled and crossed the border to leave the country where they had no rights. She lived in a refugee camp for 13 years, and hopes to go home someday since she lost her country. Going through the process of moving from one place to another, she was still not given complete rights. In Thailand, graduating from her high school she still wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to college, and she had to keep going. As a refugee, she has been denied access to education, but the Newcomer Program in New York has given her a new chance. The video then discusses how the program finally gives them opportunity while they are not able to go to high school and not able to go to the adult literacy school—as they are stuck in a gap.

The second video, “Genesee Lights” begins with the story of a man who came from Bosnia during the war, initially migrating to Germany. The opening scenes depict the chaos and violence that struck Bosnia which I think is a powerful and necessary way to catch the audience’s attention. It shows the stories of people who migrated across Europe with uncertainty and hope for a better future in America. It describes the adjustments, the transition, and the challenge to get a chance in a new home from several cultures.

The tools used in this project—videography and oral history, do an excellent job of displaying the lives of refugees in Utica, NY. I think some shortcomings are the lack of scope to the project, as it is still starting out. I don’t feel like I have enough context, but the information is directly communicated from the refugees themselves which displays the story authentically and with strength. Using digital humanities to convey the stories of the refugees in Utica is effective and important because it increases accessibility to this information as well as understanding of what refugees go through in moving to a new country with a new language and new system for work and education. Especially in America, where refugees are frowned upon by many, these videos have the power to highlight these lives and increase awareness of their experiences.

I think this project has a lot of potential and room for growth. Its long-term goal of incorporating stories from across the world gives it a meaning beyond its smaller lens and perspective in Utica. I think that these stories have the ability to change the way we look at refugee lives and can open the eyes of audiences to the realities and struggles that these people face, hopefully leading to an end of judgment and discrimination against them, and leading to a call to action to help more people in dangerous and oppressive nations today.

This project collaborates with the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees, The Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center, and the Dhi Collection Development Team. Its directors are involved with the Digital Humanities Initiative at Hamilton College, are professors at Hamilton College in various fields from economics to Russian, and are directors of other projects at Utica College.

http://dhcommons.org/projects/montr%C3%A9al-lavenir-du-pass%C3%A9-map

Montréal l’avenir du passé is a digital map using GIS to create historical infrastructure for Montreal in the 19th and 20th century. The project uses historical maps to represent all the buildings in Montreal during different years from 1825 to 2000. The project uses census returns, tax records, and other directories in order to populate the maps and further depict life during these times. This project is affiliated with McGill University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and la Bibliothèque et Archives national du Québec. MAP started in the year 2000 and is still going on, as researchers and project builders are now focusing on the turn of the century.

The site has two language options in French and English, which makes sense considering it is a Quebecois project. The website is simple with lots of colors, and I find that a bit distracting. On the left side the site lists information about who the people who made the project are and how to contact them. On the right there is a list of new features that was updated in 2014, so I wonder if the project is actually still going on. The site also emphasizes that this project while pertaining to Montreal, is for everyone, not just Canadians, as it goes into public history.

The site appears to have different tools to view the maps and databases on computers, but seems challenging to use and understand for people who are unfamiliar with programming and computer software.

On the Databases page there is an image of statistics from the city in 1825, but it is hard to read. Additionally, I am unable to run the programs on my computer as I run Linux and the site states that there is no equivalent for Macs or Linux that has been developed. The site definitely focuses more on its motivations and how it was built, but I am confused as to how to actually use the maps. In the gallery there are maps and charts marked with labels. For example, there is one titled: “La ville en 1819, fut-elle bourgeoise ?” (The city in 1819, was it bourgeois?) with markers regarding institutions and professions such as law, medicine, and the military. Overall, it is apparent that the site has been well made and has very specific intentions. But in my opinion, the audience feels limited despite the fact that it is bilingual. I don’t understand a lot of the terminology, and the programs seem pretty advanced. I would like to look further into it when I have more information.

Tedi Beemer

Arts of Film Archive- http://artsonfilm.wmin.ac.uk/

The purpose of this project is to provide a database for British films on art from 1950 to 1999. The database/archive intends to serve as a valuable historical source for scholars interested in British and global art. This project is affiliated with the University of Westminster, Arts Council England, and National Film and Television Archive. It gives a comprehensive archive of post-war art films in an organized and clear display.

The only tool this database uses is an archive which records British films by film ID on national and international art from 1950 to 1999, when Arts Council England discontinued commission of these films. The database is very well organized, presenting each document with a full set of relevant data (Title, Date, Director, Production Company, Synopsis, Minutes, Film ID.) The archive is used very effectively, and allows researchers to custom search by buzzwords to discover the film that they seek. The site doesn’t, however, allow for films to be sorted by detail (say, date or director), which is a feature I dislike about the archive. I think that the database would be more easy to browse and navigate if more functions were added to allow the user to manipulate the organization of the data. If I use an archive/database for my project, I want the opportunity for my data to be represented in a fluid capacity, allowing the viewer to mold the shape of the data visually while the information stays empirically the same. I want the form of my data to be malleable without changing the data itself. The ability to view data from different directions, and in different contexts, is invaluable to deriving meaningful information from that data. The tools on this project are used very effectively, though perhaps not to their full capacity.

The archive uses production companies as a data source to categorize these art films into an accessible locus. Though the source may not add something to the field of study, it helpfully collects random data into a single data. While this project isn’t groundbreaking on its own, I can see how it would assist in the research of competitive, groundbreaking projects. It seems to me more of a project tool than a project itself, but I may be underappreciating the usefulness of such a database. It expands access to art films without making an argument or casting a critical lens. What it does, it does well, but I find it somewhat lacking on the whole.

This project is not well maintained because research is not current, modern, or continuing. At the time of its making, a team crafted the archive, but it now lies dormant and unkempt on the dusty shelves of Internet decades passed. From this example, I experience a simple but successful accumulation and representation of data. While I liked the project’s simplicity, I hope to make an argument more complex and competitive for my final DH project.

 

The Story of the Stuff- http://thestoryofthestuff.com/

                  “The Story of the Stuff” is a self-described web documentary that explores the mass quantity of condolence items (letters, teddy bears) sent to Newton, Connecticut in the wake of the Sandy Hook Shooting. It uses this snapshot to explore public response to tragedy and how we express our sadness in physical offerings. The author, present for the Virginia Tech shooting, sets out to consider why people express their sympathies to such atrocities through tokens. She concludes by asking readers to show their support and solidarity by beseeching their political leaders to end gun violence by sending them peace cranes instead of contributing to an unnecessary overload of sympathy stuffs. This web documentary uses a persuasive narrative to encourage meaningful change and contribution.

This project uses WordPress, Scalar, Timeline JS, and Vimeo to create a fluid, cohesive experience. I think they are used very effectively to piece together a dynamic, intercollected narrative. I particularly like the idea of an interactive web documentary, a medium which seems to give the viewer choice while eliminating the static, inert nature of traditional sites.

The author gathers data by physically visiting and cataloguing items left behind in the wake of shootings. She interviews persons vital to the gift collection process, like Newton citizens. Firsthand sources were very important to her study. It certainly adds something to a field of study that I would like to commend its creator for. What Ashely Maynor provides is an inquisitive and critical lens upon an otherwise ignored phenomenon while connection it back to the broader theme and question of how we respond to tragedy. She encourages action through persuasion, not direction.

The project seems to be very well-maintained. Though a team of artists, cinematographers, and sound mixers created the project, it seems as though the author/producer, Ashley Maynor, is the one who keeps and maintains the project. The page appears to be supported by this librarian, with grant money from her university.

This example was really inspiring to me, personally. It illustrated how a text-heavy, narrative dependent project can be lifted from a stagnant format into a lively and engaging medium. That’s exactly what I want to do with my project; engage readers with pleasant aesthetics and interesting story while making a firm and assertive statement on an issue. I found this project to be incredibly helpful in guiding me toward what I want for my project. While I have little to criticize, much of this format would have to be adapted in order to fit the content of my project, but I think that the idea of a web documentary would be a perfect way to display my project.

 

Performance, Learning, and Heritage- http://www.plh.manchester.ac.uk/

Performance, Learning, and Heritage examines performances as an educational tool in museums, from its uses to its impacts. It utilized case studies to examine the “extent, style, and functions of performance as a learning medium in museums and historic sites throughout the UK and abroad.” The purpose of this project is to examine how and why dramatic arts are being used as a historical/academic tool and the effectiveness of such performances.

The website seems to be designed by scratch from the University of Manchester team. From this research, the team, headed by Tony Jackson, instigated a conference and published a DVD, several journals, and a book. The website itself is largely text heavy with the occasional visual aid. While I don’t mind and actually quite appreciate text-heavy sites, there seems to be an absence of sophisticated methods of data representation. One useful tool that the site advertises is a database “housing hundreds of digital artifacts connected with war and performance.” However, the link to access the database was broken, suggesting to me that the site’s maintenance may be somewhat sporadic.

The site derives its data by gathering information of performances conducted at historical sites. I actually do believe that in this way it contributes something novel to a field of study; this is a topic I had previously not considered. The methodology and the ease of access, however, are certainly not novel or particularly noteworthy. I found the site to be a little dense, static, and difficult to navigate.

The site does not appear to be very well maintained, with several links no longer working. The site was completed almost a decade ago, and appears to have been most recently updated in 2011. Primary maintenance should be conducted by the lead researcher, Tony Jackson, but the site appears to be somewhat outdated.

What I did appreciate from this site was the clarity and transparency with which they conducted their research. The site was broken down into options to meet the team of researchers, resources (which included database and bibliography), research, and contact and credit. There was complete translucence about the research process and honestly about copyright and accessibility. What I liked about this project was that it was the first DH project that utilized case studies in their research, something that I intend to do for my final project. However, this website also helped me understand that I want to choose an alternative format to present the information in a more fluid and aesthetically pleasing way.

Ben Minerva

Digital Mesopotamia is a interactive map made developed by the TAY (The Archaeological Settlements of Turkey) Project. The initiative attempts to digitalize the historical past of Mesopotamia in an interactive mapping system through which users can click on particular cities, or historic sites and open a series of other pages offering more in depth information on them. The project is still in its early developmental stages and only an initial startup has been published, but it’s hard to decipher exactly where the developers are going to make changes, improvements and further advancements.

The current version of the interactive map is made up of a stationary satellite map of a particular section of the geographic area in focus. The interactive part of the map are the clickable pinpoints that offer the viewer an option to read information about the specific location through three separate links: a TAY datapage, wikipedia, or another source that varies based on the location. The TAY project page for each site gives more specific textual information, so as more in depth location, as well as geographical and environmental characteristics.

Digital Mesopotamia is an ambitious project, ultimately aiming to use a series of different digital resources to fulfill their goals. So far the TAY project are using satellite mapping and GPS reading tools to produce their map and aim to use these means to create a “diachronic picture of geography, cultures, subsistence patterns, and political organizations…”  The team is lead by  the research of Bulent Arikan, Assistant Professor of Archaeology, Eurasia Institute of Earth Sciences, Istanbul Technical University, and Erol Balkan, Professor of Economics, DHi External Advisory Council Chair, Hamilton College, who are supported by a group of technological scholars at Hamilton College.

Although it is still in development, Digital Mesopotamia is still lacking one of its central goals which is to produce a map that displays changes over time, or in their own words, a diachronic mapping. This element is still missing from the project, and its its current state, the map is static and monotonous in the media that it displays. The Tay project should work to make their program more dynamic. Each location on the map is different, and so it should, in theory, provide varying information. So far, the basic idea of providing a map that has interactive ‘hotspots’ productive. The execution, to this point, given size of the team, is scarce.  

 

Mapping at the Mountains of Madness is an ArcGIS project conducted by Matt Mckinley with the help of some graduate students at Wright University. The inspiration of this endeavour is  P.H. Lovecraft’s fictional horror, At The Mountain of Madness, a story of a geologists frightful journey to Antarctica. In his work, Lovecraft central character eludes to the names and coordinated of both real and imagined locations. These locations are what Mckinley attempts to visually display in his GIS mapping construction.

Mapping at the Mountains of Madness is a map produced from ArcGIS that displays an interactive satellite image of Antarctica with a series of color coated pinpoints: the blue pinpoints are identify real locations that are referenced in P.H. Lovecraft’s novel, and the green one locate imagined places. In addition to these marks on the map, Mckinley adds two highlighted areas of that attempt define both the area that the story takes place, and more specifically, the ancient city location that is featured in the book. The particular locations are relatively accurate because Lovecraft supplies coordinates in his work, but the highlighted areas are speculative, based on the other data collected. The mapping is very well done. It is easy to navigate, and simple. Furthermore, the addition of legend that clearly marks each mark on the map makes it very user friendly.

Mckinley’s project is good inspiration in its clarity and execution, however, the data set that he used is simpler than that that I plan to use. For my GIS mapping endeavour, I want to portray data over time; have a diachronic map. Mapping at the Mountain of Madness, although well realized, it is relatively static, compared to other mapping projects that attempt to display data sets that change over time.

 

Mapping the Rebellion is a multi-faceted project that aims to recount the Whiskey Rebellion (1791-1794). “This digital history project, built by Stephanie (Krom) Townrow at New York University, aims to explore the Whiskey Rebellion… in time and space through an interactive map, a responsive timeline, and a heritage audio tour designed to be played in a vehicle while exploring the present-day sites of the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania.

The entire project is presented through a website with nine separate pages, beginning with textual introduction to the rebellion, supplying basic information, followed by an audio introduction, interactive map, timeline, and the audio tour. Each page is executed very well and are easily useable and accessible.

The interactive map was the most engaging of the different elements of Mapping the Rebellion. Built through neatline, the map display a modern day view of the area in focus, filled with all the the contemporary roads and townships, but adds pinpoints that open up information about that specific location. The information provided at each mark is extensive, telling what the location is and why it is significant to the rebellion. Through these descriptions, the map effectively tells the story of the Whiskey rebellion.

In addition to the well executed and user friendly interactive map, Mapping the Rebellion also supplies an in depth and clearly laid out timeline interactive timeline that sets out the story of the rebellion in the most clear manner possible. This section was constructed using TimelineJS. The project successfully makes it so that these separate elements do not overshadow each other, but rather complement each other.

The idea that viewers can use this website to track the scenes of the rebellion in real life is an ambitious one, but the different elements of Mapping the Rebellion certainly make it possible. Having the interactive map also display contemporary roads and along with the historical pinpoints is a conscious decision that serves as the users all encompassing roadmap for their journey in real life. The audio guide can be listened to along the way, and the timeline, introduction, as well as descriptive sections on the map can help fill in the gaps, or supplement information that the user missed from the guide.

Mapping the Rebellion brings up many points that I had not considered for my own project. Instead of having a diachronic map that changes over time, producing separate elements that compliment each other, such as a timeline and a map, may ease the user’s experience. In addition, Townrow uses these different elements to display her individual views of the rebellion. Both the interactive map and the timeline allow her to include the moments that she felt were most important in telling the story that she wanted to tell.

Maria Ahmed 

Sacred Centers in India: http://www.dhinitiative.org/projects/sacredcenters

The purpose of this project is to examine and study some of India’s sacred centers; Buddhist Bodhgaya and Hindu Gaya. Bodhgaya, the birthplace of Buddhism and Gaya, Hindu place of pilgrimage, have both rich histories that have been documented through written history. Through a study of history, archeology and art history, this project aims to study the reconstructions and changes in those two overlapping historical places.

This inter-disciplinary project of textual history (nature) and art history and archeology (man made) is an expansion of access and will help any one who is in one of these disciplines have easier access to information that might have not been easy otherwise. This project uses interactive mapping and 3D Virtual temple to engage with geographically distant cultures.

I like how easily you can navigate through the interactive map and click on the locations on the map for more information about them. The color coordination on the locations marked on the map makes it easy to know what location is what; for example blue is Temples and Shrines.

This project has been started in 2013 and still being developed by Abhishek Amar, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Hamilton College and group of research assistant students. It is not easy to see how the end product will look. One thing that is not super clear thus far in the project is how the 3D model furthers the user’s understanding of the history of those two holy places.

Comparative Japanese Film Archive: http://www.dhinitiative.org/projects/cjf

This project is video and audio archive from early 20th century literature and films to study the history and production of Japanese cinema. The tools they use include database, metadata and audios and videos.

There is student interview, which I though was very helpful to explain the Benshi project. Benshi were Japanese performers who provided live narration for silent films. This project discovers the silent films, Benshi audio clips and still pictures to build a database to further and make easy for researchers to access information easily. There are video clips and pictures with annotations that you can browse through.

Kyoko Omori, Ph.D. Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures (Japanese) at Hamilton College started this project with collection development team, all faculty and stuff of Hamilton College, and student assistances.

Even though this project is different from what I want to do, I think it is important to know how to collect data, which is important part of my project. Also, students use the data of this project to write scripts and perform using existing visual silent films and narrating the stories of different individuals.

Visual Freedom Trail Project: http://www.dhinitiative.org/projects/vftp

The history of the fight for freedom in Tanzania is underrepresented, and this project seeks to document the struggles of the liberation movement and the relationship between the liberation movement of Tanzania and other liberations movements in sub Saharan Africa.

Using ethnographic data, and geospatial technology, this project makes use of the exciting data about the liberation movement and wants to expand it. The houses, office places, protest sites all show the liberation movement activities; this project wants to use that to document the effects. The pictures in the website are maps and screenshot of the project, but there is no detailed link to the full project. So far, this project is at its early stages and still developing so it is hard to see where it is going.

Since I want to display my findings visually too, this project is close to what I want to do. They did not mention what specific tools they are using for visually show this. I could see this information being on a map and show how the Tanzanian liberation movement influenced other freedom movements while geographically labeling the locations of other freedom movements.

This project is also done in Hamilton College by Angel David Nieves, Ph.D. Co-Director, Digital Humanities Initiative, Hamilton College and Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, College of New Jersey. The project partners with The Institute of Development Studies in Tanzania and MuseumAfrica, Johannesburg, South Africa for more data.

Idil Tanrisever

The Archigram Archival Project is a digital resource, including drawings, collages, paintings, photographs, magazines, articles, etc. belonging to a 1960s-70s British architectural group, Archigram. The archive displays digital versions of architectural works held in different collections focusing on the main Archigram period of 1961-1974, but includes all the projects before and after these dates.

The aim of the project is to make the work of Archigram available free online for academic and public study. The project was run by EXP, an architectural research group at the University of Westminster and it was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Contributors are the surviving members of Archigram and their heirs, who retain copyright of all images.

The homepage is composed of an explanation of the project and the archive. As you go through the tabs, you see the Archigram Magazine issues, the projects on a timeline, shows, the six members of Archigram and information about the movement, the group, the research group who run the website and supplemental texts. The project creates an exhibition for archives and a timeline to track the changes in the movement within 20 years.

As you go through the images in the gallery, it gives the information about the image and it is really easy to use. I also like how visually appealing the archive is. It is also really easy to navigate through the website and as I went through the tabs, the project became more clear. I like how you can see the same data in different ways as slideshows or dates. I also like the timeline idea, since it would give an idea about how the movement and the style changed within time. However, I couldn’t get it to work. Also, besides the exhibition, although it was easy to navigate, I didn’t really enjoy the design of the website.

The Prague Spring Archive is an online portal for the Prague Spring archival materials within Texas ScholarWorks and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library. The site was built by Ian Goodale, the Russian, East European, and Eurasian & Digital Scholarship Librarian at the University of Texas at Austin, with the cooperation of the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at UT Austin and the LBJ Presidential Library.

Ongoing digitization work for the project is being performed by Ian Goodale and Nicole Marino, and early digitization efforts and project organization was done by Mary Rader and Esmeralda Moscatelli. All of the digitized images from the Prague Spring materials at the LBJ Presidential Library are housed in Texas ScholarWorks.

The project uses Scalar as the main platform. Timeline and data visualization techniques are used in the project. The homepage gives the directions on how to navigate through the website and documents are categorized by archival holdings. Pages include a collection of key documents, the key figures who led and contributed to the Prague Spring, the timeline of the events, information about Texas ScholarWorks and how to find additional documents.

I like this project, because it’s design is really smooth and you can see the same information in different ways which is helpful in seeing different patterns whether it is through the timeline or data visualization. However, since it is an ongoing project and not completed, some parts in data visualization and the timeline are not complete.

Jazz Instruments and Their Women is an archive containing the stories/biographies of 8 successful jazz musicians. The aim of the project is to provide the users with information about the chosen artists’ lives on and off stage and have the users understand and appreciate the different experiences women in jazz had based on the instrument she played.

The homepage introduces the project and explains how the website is structured. The biographies are categorized by the instrument the musician plays. The project focuses on vocalists, drummers, pianists and saxophonists and each category contains two musicians. The project also attempts to highlight the different experiences women jazz artists had in relation to their race. In order to include race in the project, there is one black and one white musician per instrument.

The project uses Scalar platform. It also uses a mapping technique, to map each artist’s life, and data visualization. The map includes both a linear path and information about each pin-point or each significant location. Although the 4 builders of the project wanted the maps to be interactive, they didn’t have the time to complete it.

What I like about this project is that there is a project thesis page, so the users can easily see the purpose of the project before they delve into the biographies and stories. The project is also really transparent. Once you go to Process page, everything is explained step by step clearly.

Daniel Gonzalez

Soweto Historical GIS Project 

The Soweto Historical GIS Project’s (SHGIS) objective is “to build a multi-layered historical geographic information system that explores the social, economic and political dimensions of urban development under South African apartheid regimes (1904/1948-1994) in Johannesburg’s all-black township of Soweto.” Soweto was created to segregate black South Africans from white. The website uses geography to look at how violence, resistance, and freedom contributed to the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. It looks at a very detailed town and how it relates to an apartheid state. After creating the database, the idea is to then use a wider range of spatial features. The fundamental question of the project is this: can you map residents’ resistance. In an updated post about the project- the creators seemed to have narrowed down one independent variable, population density over time, as the vital factor of the types of resistance employed by township residents.

This project began with Angel David Nieves, Co-Director of the Digital Humanities Initiative. It then expanded to include three undergraduate students in the Department of Geography at Middlebury College. It was inspired by and drawn upon thirty-nine largely unseen maps, architectural plans and drawings in the National Archives of South Africa. The project started in 2010 and continues to this day. There is no tangible 3D/GIS mapping system available to the public yet (at least that I found). Instead, there is a blog that explains what has been going on with the project and in which direction they are heading. This blog is very informative in the sense that it gives a clearer understanding of what has been accomplished. Scrolling through the blog, I found an indication of funding for the project. In conjunction with Kim Gallon from Purdue University they were awarded $245,299 in 2014 to support a three-week summer institute and a follow-up workshop for 20 participants to explore spatial approaches to Africana Studies.

The most recent update to the site was on August 10, 2016. An admin posted pictures of newly developed software of a house in Soweto. A glimpse of the tools that were used was explained: “To develop this model, researcher and project director Angel David Nieves, Ph.D., provided the development team with blueprints for a variety of houses that comprise the represented section of the Soweto township.  Using this data, Xiao and Lord designed 3D models that used these blueprints, making sure to capture both the layout and dimensions of each building.  From there, the team used a combination of both historical and modern photographs and images to texture the houses. Finally, the team imported each of these models into the Unity engine, where they combined the models with tools that allowed them to create an accurate street map from Open Street Maps data.”

As with any other Digital Humanities project there are pros and cons. A huge con is obviously the time it has taken them to create this database of African heritage. Furthermore, a lot of money has to be put into making this database as well. As there isn’t anything tangible yet it’s hard to denote the cons. Alternatively, the pros are also very powerful. Having a tool that “maps resistance” can be a life-changer in the study of violence, displacement, and state-citizen connection. If you can find a way to map the way a certain factor (population density) changes over time and interacts with a certain social objective (anti-apartheid) then you’re one step closer to creating a fuller understanding of the motivation of humans and violence.

The Agas Map of Early Modern London

The Agas Map is a map of Early Modern London. “At The Map of Early Modern London (MoEML), our ongoing project is to map the spatial imaginary of Shakespeare’s city; we ask how London’s spaces and places were named, traversed, used, repurposed, and contested by various practitioners (Michel de Certeau’s term), writers, and civic officials. MoEML’s maps allow us to plot people, historical documents, literary works, and recent critical research onto topography and the built environment.” Furthermore, they also try to answer GeoHumanities questions using GIS. With a Digital Humanities mindset they have open peer review, open access, open source, and open code. This of course means that you can find all the xml files used to create the map.

The Agas Map is comprised of four different projects: a digital edition of the 1561 Agas map of London, an Encyclopedia and Descriptive Gazetteer, a Library of texts, and a edition of John Stow’s Survey of London. They draw their data from five databases: a Placeography of locations, a Personagraphy of early Londoners, an Orgography of organizations, a bibliography of sources, and a glossary of relevant terms.

Their team is extensive and the first version of it wasn’t even on the internet- it was an intranet predecessor at the University of Windsor between 1999 and 2003. They redeveloped it for the internet in 2006 and so far I counted more than 70 helpers in total, though the directors are Mark Kaethler,  Janelle Jenstad, Kim McLean-Fiander, and Martin Holmes.

The map in itself is beautiful. It lists locations of Early Modern London by category. The categories are extensive from bridges, churches, gates, halls, liberties, markets, parishes, playhouses, prisons, sites, etc. Whenever you click on any of these locations (there must be more than 500 of them) the map zooms in directly into that area, outlines the location and gives further information about what the location is and where it is mentioned in the literature.

You can definitely tell a lot of Monday was spent on this project and I see very few negative things about it. You can even chose to point out certain locations or create your own polygons for the map. I think one of the reasons this project is successful is due to the detail of the original map. If you have a good foundation then stacking up material will be a lot easier. Individual houses are drawn on the map- close to the degree of modern technology like google maps. In general, this is a good example of a project that can be added to while still being ‘finished’.

Marie Saldaña Project Collection 

This Digital Humanities website is instead of one specific project a collection of various projects and research tools. There are seven different projects available to interact with. They are: Rhodes, Santa Maria Novella, Magnesia, Roman City Ruleset, Nysa, Manhattan Transcripts 3D, Desert Sketches. The author of these projects is Marie Saldaña. She received her M.Arch. and Ph.D. in Architecture from UCLA. She describes her projects as maps, models, drawings, interactive media, and words used to document and interpret the relationship of built environment and landscape.

The projects in themselves are fascinating to look at and Marie seems to have written scholarly articles about the work that she has done. I found a paper titled “An Integrated Approach to the Procedural Modeling of Ancient Cities and Buildings”. This is basically a ‘Roman City Ruleset’- rules for creating 3D models of Roman and Hellenistic architecture and urban environments. This paper is very interesting as it lays out everything we need to know about how Marie made her work. She tells us that she used ESRI CityEngine because it recently combined with ESRI’s ArcMap and provides advantages for managing and visualizing archaeological data. What she is trying to do is create this set of rules so that users won’t have to keep recreating them every single time they interact with the software. So instead of people having general rules to build a ‘pseudo-dipteral Hellenistic temple’ they could use her rules to set up the base and work from there. An important thing to note here is that she uses models from geodatabases imported from ArcMap. In Bogota, I’m not sure we have access to things about building types. This is one of the things I’ll have to look into.

The cons to this method is simply how meticulous you need to be in order to 3D map. Furthermore, there doesn’t seem to be anything interactive on the website yet. It’s just pictures. The project would definitely be more understandable to the public if there was an easier way to visualize it (her articles aren’t enough). The pros are of the site is simply having a place to share the ideas behind what she’s done. I’m not use if I can see myself creating a project like this anymore. It doesn’t seem to fit into the context of what I am trying to get to: the strata in Bogota. It seems to me that after reviewing all of these projects the best choice is to use GIS Mapping data and combine that with a type of story map that would explain the difference between various strata in Bogota.

Jovanté Anderson

http://www.bl.uk/playtimes

When I first saw the Children’s playground games and songs in the new media age project, I was immediately drawn to it.  I realize now that my fascination comes out of the fact that, like what I’m attempting to do with Jamaican songs, this project is using British children playground games to interpret the contemporary social landscape by investigating how the games function in children’s play.  I appreciate its multidimensional approach in that it aims to digitize the material, design a website accessible to a wide audience (educators, researchers, children, etc), conduct a two-year long ethnographic study, make a documentary film, and explore its interaction with new digital technologies.  I think this approach is very useful in that it uses the values of various academic disciplines – Anthropology, Film and Media Studies, Computer Science, Linguistics, Librarianship – to respond to the crucial question being asked – what is the relevance of children’s games today?   

The website isn’t clear on all the technological tools used for the project, but I do think the data formatting is very effective.  The combination of text and videos (Apple QuickTime Movie format) provides a more comprehensive approach to understanding oral culture.  I want to use videos as well to complement my presentation and analysis in the same because I think it is important that my users see the way Jamaican music operates in an actual social space.  This will mean drawing on sources from various places (perhaps most commonly, YouTube and other audiovisual platforms).  I also appreciate that the researchers use video content across decades from as far back as the 1950s until now.  The website is also very attractive in its use of (mostly) pastel colours.

I appreciate the work of this project because it has practical implications which I think is one of the greatest assets of good research.  There is a place on the site dedicated to resources that educators can use to incorporate playground games into the classroom.  For example, the role-playing games are thought to demonstrate how give “expression through socio-dramatic play on themes important to them such as families, superheroes, leaving home, and the world of work. These are often influenced by media texts (film, TV, pop music, advertising, books, and computer games) and transform the play into fantasy worlds of space travel, battles and magic.”  I thought this was very was useful analysis for educators because then that will allow for them to approach playground activities with an understanding that children use these games to process the world around them and it will “provide ways of recording this transient experience.”  
The project seems to be well-maintained and fairly well updated since the project was completed in 2011 and the most recent contribution to the site was an article written in October 2016.  It is also funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and has an extensive team led by Dr Andrew Burns.  The data sources are from the sound archive of Iona and Peter Opie in the British Library’s National Sound Archive; digital video, sound recordings, photographs and observation data from two primary school playgrounds.

The Story of the Stuff

http://thestoryofthestuff.com/

The Story of the Stuff that confronts the tragedy of the Sandy Hook school shooting and its aftermath in which thousands of gifts were sent to the small town.  The tragedy is explored through an interactive web documentary and attempts to understand how people respond to catastrophic events that profoundly affect the social fabric of communities.  With a combination of videos, animations, images and text, it’s quite a remarkable project in that it presents its users with one of the many ways that people are capable of immense kindness.  It is tactical in its use of emotional appeal to end gun violence.

The tools used were WordPress, TimelineJS, Vimeo and Scalar.  The TimelineJS was very useful in placing the story in a sequential order (separated into “chapters”) that moved users from a confrontation with grief to catharsis.  I think I might use something similar in my project to show how sexuality is explored in different eras of dancehall music.  I also thought that the use of WordPress to create the website was very effective and made the project very attractive, and I would like to use this platform or one similar to it.  The website was very user friendly.

The project collected most of its data from members of the town which, in my opinion, adds a much more personal touch to the story thnt the raw numbers do.  I think it adds something to the field of study of violence in that it asks us to get personal with the material we encounter in an almost ethnographic or anthropological sense.  Additionally, while many people might have heard of the tragedy, not as much news coverage was done on the outpouring of love that followed and so this project expands on story by providing users with a greater sense of the victims’ lives.  A potential weakness of the project, however, is that it has not yet been peer reviewed but the creator has made a request for the project to undergo revision.

The project, while published in 2015, doesn’t seem to need much maintenance, but I do appreciate that the project leader attaches her contact information and links the projects’ social media accounts so that people can follow for updates.  It also seems that she leads the project and is supported by a team of media production artists, graduate students and librarians.  It is also funded by the University of Tennessee Knoxville and Fractured Atlas.  

‘A Shaky Truce’ : Starkville Civil Rights Struggles, 1960-1980

Home

The purpose of this project is to document the African-American struggle for Civil Rights in Starkville, Mississippi from 1960-1980.  Just like the Sandy Hook shooting, this project zooms in on the stories of the people and personalizes history in a way that written text often fails to do.  It takes oral history interviews and digitized archival documents to narrate the nuances of struggle for equality.  The website is categorized into four parts – the place, the people, the struggle (not sure I understand why these distinctions are made) and resources.

The project uses Google Maps, WordPress (and its plugins) TimelineJS, Oral History Metadata, and Synchronizer (OHMS).  The maps were especially useful in capturing the social memory attached to places because it provided users with a way to navigate through the areas that were affected and get a better sense of the stories being told.  The data sources used were primarily firsthand accounts of the racial tensions witnessed in the town, complemented by historical documents such as newspapers and pictures from the time.

What I appreciate most about this project is its practical implications for the current time in that it provides resources for researchers and teachers to assist them in relating the history of Jim Crow and segregation in schools.  The project is also very collaborative and and invites the participation of its users to tell their story and in this sense seems to be well-maintained.  I really like the idea of having input from users in my project since that might help to lend more nuance to the argument I will be attempting to make.  The project is also partly funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Mississippi Library Commission, and the Mississippi Humanities Council.

 

john rodriguez

Thomas Gray (http://www.thomasgray.org/)

This project was meant to show the public that Thomas Gray has a plethora of works outside the “Elergy written in a country churchyard” poem. Alexander Huber utilized TEI/XML the most in this digital project of his. A team of librarians, IT staff, and peers helped him review and obtain information for this massive project.

I enjoyed exploring this database of works by Thomas Gray because I am not familiar with his works. The most intriguing part was seeing how the TEI/XML tool was used to make the text open to analysis and questions. Along with the ability to edit, Huber also used the tool to guide reader comprehension through the piece. This could be a great tool for my project because some metaphors and rhyme schemes are difficult to unpack after the first read, which enables me to assist readers in comprehending overarching themes.

What helped the most was seeing how Huber was able to organize so many pieces of works, ranging from poems to prose and remakes. For example, after clicking the “poems” section, you will be lead to a large list with a filter to your right. The filter gives you the options to look for different styles that Gray has used in his pieces, while also giving the option to compare those poems to remakes. Seeing this tactic of organizing pieces has given me a clearer vision for my project.

Zoom Imagine (http://www.zoomimagine.com/AboutProject.html)

This project elaborates on several camera techniques and their respective effects on viewers. The project was constructed using Java along with the assistance of faculty and graduate students.

I like the creator’s aesthetic choice to add three dimensional diagrams to visually explain her packed jargon. However, I feel having all of the information on one page is very overwhelming for a reader, which dilutes her message. For example, during my first overview, my eyes were attracted immediately to the variety of diagrams, not the text. Thus, I argue that splitting her sections between different pages would give the reader an opportunity to understand the presented material before moving on to the next section, and/or diagram.

The information and analysis provided is very interesting, but the confines of the webpage prevents the project from having any depth.

 

Digitizing “Chinese Englishmen” (http://chineseenglishmen.adelinekoh.org/)

The goal of this project was to provide and comment of the works of the Straits Chinese Magazine. The term “straits” was used to refer to Chinese people that were alright with being colonized by the British. The British empire saw the Straits as the bridge between the colonizers and the natives. A large group of librarians and university students, ranging from undergraduate to graduate, helped construct this project.

The website is very well organized and included digital copies of the magazine themselves, not translated text. However, the projects description implied that analysis would be provided with the information, not in the comment section. I was expecting to find analysis from the researchers in each respected section; rather, the site is built for readers to discuss in the forum below each article. While I do appreciate the decision to have readers interact with each other, I felt an analysis would have been appropriate to add with this archive.

 

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.