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2013 September



September 30, 2013

CHI Fellowship Introduction: Esther Milu

September 30, 2013 | By | No Comments

I am a PhD student in Rhetoric and Writing. My Research interests revolve around language, literacy, cultural and digital rhetorics. Specifically, I am interested in learning how today’s youth are developing translingual and transcultural literacy practices in todays multilingual, multicultural and transnational world. I use hip-hop from the African diaspora as a heuristic to understand how hip-hop culture facilitates the development of transcultural and translingual literacy practices among not only hip-hop artists, but also youth in general.  My current focus is Kenya. I am researching how African diasporic cultures and languages particularly from the Caribbean and African American communities have influenced Kenyan hip-hop and the Kenyan youth. I have also been researching about Sheng, a linguistic code spoken by Kenyan youth, and which is also, the main language of composition for Kenyan hip-hop. But given the code’s fluidity and lack of stable grammar, it has received a lot of condemnation from language and literacy educators as well as some members of the Kenyan society. This past summer, I had a research trip to Kenya and established that a number of artists are interested in finding ways of preserving the language because it is the one that gives Kenyan hip-hop its identity. As a cultural rhetorician and literacy educator interested in preserving youth cultures, I want to use the CHI fellowship to begin building a digital archive to preserve Kenyan Hip-hop cultural content and the Kenyan youth language, Sheng.




September 27, 2013

CHI Fellowship Introduction: Shanti Zaid

September 27, 2013 | By | No Comments

My name is Shanti Zaid and I am very happy to have been selected as one of this year’s Cultural Heritage Informatics fellows. Since I have little background in the digital world beyond a lay familiarity with the internet and a mild case of digitized article hoarding, what else could I offer by way of a biographic introduction? A classic ‘credentialed’ background would look something like: “I am a graduate student at Michigan State University pursuing dual PhD degrees in both African American and African Studies, and in Socio-Cultural Anthropology.  I received my BA in History from MSU and earned MA degrees in Social Anthropology and Migration/Diaspora Studies from the University of London.”  Research-wise, I might say: “My research interests include African Diaspora history and cultural traditions with an emphasis on diasporic religious forms.  Currently, I study Africa-inspired religious traditions in eastern Cuba, with attention to the bodily practices and social networks of communities who practice more than one religious tradition.” Geographically, I might add that I was born on the other side of the world, raised in Boulder, Colorado but have lived in Michigan on and off for the last ten years or so.

But these bits of biography hardly seem sufficient. I would raise my artistic side and highlight that I have two recorded Hip-Hop albums and self-published a book of poetry and photography, but in reality, those were accomplished in the glory days of undergrad.  Now, I’m lucky if I get out more than a couple poems a year, much less a song.  At present, the most significant aspect of my biography is my daughter, born this past summer.  She has brought me a joy unlike any I’ve ever experienced.  And it is in part thinking about her cultural heritage that I have been considering my project for the CHI Fellowship.  This project revolves around ways to digitally bring the past into the future and interactively remember local cultural heritages.  Cryptic, I know, but I’ll have more time to elaborate on this project in future posts. For now, I just want to say that I’m excited to be here and look forward to sharing my ideas, progress, and digital musings this semester and over the course of the year.

David Bennett


September 23, 2013

A Voice from the Technological Borderlands: David S. Bennett, civil rights and technology scholar

September 23, 2013 | By | No Comments

On September 4, 1957, Elizabeth Eckford approached Little Rock Arkansas’ Central High School in an attempt to enact desegregation. A wall of national guardsmen turned her away. None of this initial exchange was able to be recorded by the television camera operators, as their equipment was still being set up. And yet, today there exists footage of Eckford walking up to the National Guard soldiers and being turned away. This is because Elizabeth Eckford made the march on Central High School twice in the same day. As she was turned away the first time, she began to retreat from the guards, but midway through walking away she turned back around to attempt to cross the line of national guardsmen. This time, the television cameras were ready to record. CBS news reporter Robert Schakne shouted at the growing crowd to “Yell again!” as he saw Eckford approach the school again (Roberts and Klibanoff 160). The crowd followed suit, and this is the video footage that we have of the Little Rock attempt to desegregate. While it can never be known whether Schakne’s direction to the crowd had any distinct change on the unfolding of the event, which would be widely televised, this event brings to light many questions regarding the role video cameras play in the creation of historical narratives. Read More

David Walton


September 20, 2013

CHI Fellowship Introduction: David Walton

September 20, 2013 | By | One Comment

My name is David M. Walton (aka Kalonji A. Butholenkosi).  I am a dual doctoral student in History and AAAS (African American and African Studies) at Michigan State University.  I am from Romulus, Michigan.  My research interests are: African American history (1860-1993), African history (colonization and decolonization), South African history, Detroit history, Michigan history and slavery and the slave trade (Africa and the Americas).

My mother has been my main source of strength, ambition, and commitment to excellence.  Although not a unique experience, she raised my siblings and me as a single parent in a low-income housing tenement, yet she never allowed the use of our situation as an excuse for failure or mediocrity.  Without her example, courage and commitment I never would have pursued higher education.  Furthermore, my mother emphasized a curiosity in Black History and Africa.  Moreover, my mother made it quite clear that community service and engagement were required qualities and endeavors for all members of the community.   Thus, as a first generation college-educated African American, the first in my family to pursue a doctoral degree, and my working-class background I believe it is my duty to engage the community.

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September 20, 2013

CHI Fellowship Intro: Adam Haviland

September 20, 2013 | By | 2 Comments

Hello everyone. My name is Adam Haviland. I am a PhD student in the Anthropology program here at Michigan State. I am the lonely linguistic Anthropology student you see hiding out at Espresso Royal. I also am a Graduate Assistant for the Native American Institute. Before coming into Anthropology I received an M.A in American Studies from MSU. The focus of my graduate work has been on the revitalization of Native American Languages, specifically Anishinaabemowin, which includes Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomie in the Great Lakes. I started learning Anishinaabemowin in high school and have continued to study it as both an undergrad and graduate student. I am currently working with the Native American Institute to create an online course in the language.

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September 13, 2013

CHI Fellows Intro: Andrew LoPinto

September 13, 2013 | By | No Comments

Hello there, internet!  I am Andrew.  I am a PhD student here at Michigan State University in the Department of Anthropology as well as a research assistant for the Campus Archaeology Program.  My background is in archaeology, and specifically, bioarchaeology and mortuary analysis.  Yes, I work with the dead.  Macabre?  Perhaps.  Interesting?  DEFINITELY!  Bioarchaeology can clue us in to so much about the actual lives of the people of ancient civilizations and gives modern researchers an amazing opportunity to interact with long extinct populations.  Specifically, my research focuses on Predynastic and Early Dynastic Egypt.  Yes, I study the dead…in Egypt.  You may now proceed to writhe in envy.  Just kidding.

Prior to coming to MSU, I received an MSc in Skeletal and Dental Bioarchaeology from the Institute of Archaeology at University College London and a BA in Anthropology from the University of Arizona.  I have worked in Egypt at various sites of various time periods for a number of years.  I have had the opportunity to work at both Nile valley and delta sites, and one of the most prominent issues when working in Egypt is preservation and long-term care of artifacts (both archaeological and osteological).  This dovetails into my interests in Cultural Heritage Informatics.

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September 11, 2013

CHI Fellow Introduction: Liz Timbs

September 11, 2013 | By | No Comments

My name is Liz Timbs. I am a doctoral candidate in African History here at Michigan State University. I also hold a Master’s in Comparative World History from George Mason University. In my graduate education, I have had the opportunity to work at two institutions which have demonstrated dedication to the application of digital methods to the study of history, both at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University and MATRIX at Michigan State University.  These experiences have shown me the potential of utilizing digital methods within the historical profession, in terms of both research and pedagogy.

My research focuses on the history of health and healing in South Africa, particularly the nation’s experience with the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  My hope is to, during the course of my dissertation research, begin accumulating enough material to produce a digital archive of the experiences of Zulu-speaking South Africans with this devastating illness. In a similar vein, I hope to produce a documentary on the history of the epidemic, stretching back into the 1980s when the illness first appeared among homosexual men to the era of AIDS denialism and into the present day. Though these projects will probably not come to fruition until further down the line, I am hoping that part of my work as a CHI Fellow can lay the groundwork for these future endeavors.

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Ashley Wiersma


September 4, 2013

Settler Colonialism Uncovered: Launching Stage 1

September 4, 2013 | By | No Comments

At its most simplistic, settler colonialism was (and is) a process in which emigrants move(d) with the express purposes of territorial occupation and the formation of a new community rather than the extraction of labor or resources (however, these may have been or become secondary objectives).[1] An integral part of this process was and is Indigenous dispossession and elimination through various means.  These practices and their impact have important legacies and implications today but are often glossed over in most secondary history curricula and are practically unknown among the general public. For this reason, the processes of settlement and Indigenous dispossession will be the focus of this project.[2]  Despite the steps many Western societies have made toward recognizing and addressing injustice in present settler colonies – including the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand – and former settler colonial metropoles, such as France, education about this topic is rare, controversial, and often meets with white resistance.[3]

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