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.  

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