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2015 May



May 22, 2015

Summer Project

May 22, 2015 | By | No Comments

For the past year I have been working as a CHI Fellow learning about different online tools to build various kinds of digital cultural interfaces. Through my work over the past nine months I developed my project Fieldwork Narratives, a pictorial journal of my fieldwork experiences with the Chenchu community of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, India. Using Story Maps, an online tool that facilitates storytelling, I have designed a simple narrative of several aspects of my fieldwork experiences keeping in mind young groups of people (13-20 years of age) as my target audience.

While this is an on-going project that I will continue building on as my work with the Chenchu progresses, I want to redo the look and structure of the current project to make it more scholarly. While my attempt to reach out to younger groups of people stays, I also want to give it a more academic touch to serve a number of purposes. One, being an academic, I think I will not be doing justice without incorporating this dimension into the project. Two, even though this is not the same as a publication, this is a sort of academic dissemination that warrants a more formal structuring that allows me to share my project with a more scholarly audience. Three, linked to the first two goals, this then adds more weight on my resume in terms of a scholarly endeavor.

My objective this summer is to make the current project look more like a journal publication, albeit with more pictures and less text.



May 10, 2015

Shakespeare’s Shadows is Live!

May 10, 2015 | By | No Comments

I am delighted to announce the launch of my CHI project, Shakespeare’s Shadows! Over the past academic year, I have been reading, researching, testing different technologies, and learning how to code in order to make this happen.

My research interest lies in understanding the way in which English Renaissance dramatists engaged with the visual arts, specifically through the lens of professionalization. I argue that Renaissance dramatists reference and make use of English artistic theory in order to reflect upon their own multi-media, visual/verbal form. With this interest in mind, I scaled my project to focus on the dramas in Shakespeare’s First Folio. For more information about the background, rationale, and objective of this study, please visit the ‘About the project’ page on my site.

Using Voyant, I explored Shakespeare’s texts through the use of their web-based data visualization tools. Each graph on my website analyzes a different part of Shakespeare’s corpus or related texts, and uncovers unique connections and trends that were not apparent previously. Most graphs are interactive. I encourage users to manipulate these graphs to suit their own curiosities.

I plan to keep adding to the webpage and I also look forward using Shakespeare’s Shadows in my classroom. Next academic year, I am fortunate enough to be teaching two Shakespeare courses and I plan to work with students to facilitate a research-based learning environment. Shakespeare’s Shadows is just one example of the many ways digital work can lead to new understandings of old texts and I cannot wait to share this with my students!

You can find much more information about the project on the actual webpage, which I hope you will take a moment to visit. Because there is more work to be done, I would really appreciate your feedback. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments you might have.

Lastly, I would like to thank MATRIX, the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative, and especially Ethan Watrall for generously supporting me as I worked on this project.

becca hayes


May 8, 2015

The Launch of Visualizing Street Harassment

May 8, 2015 | By | No Comments

shmapWhen I started the CHI Fellowship last fall, I had several ideas about projects I might undertake over the course of the year. Serendipitously, on October 28th, 2014, about two months into my fellowship, a video,“10 Hours of Walking as a Woman in NYC,” went viral. The documentary-style video aims to capture the street harassment experiences of a woman walking through NYC. As someone who has not only experienced street harassment in my daily life, but has also studied the feminist and queer rhetorics surrounding anti-street harassment activism, especially storytelling as an organizing strategy, I watched with interest as digital and public discussions about street harassment increased. That interest has resulted in my project,Visualizing Street Harassment, which maps responses to the “10 Hours of Walking as a Woman in NYC.

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Lisa Bright


May 8, 2015

Mortuary Mapping Launched!

May 8, 2015 | By | No Comments

Mortuary Mapping has officially launched! To say that this project is near and dear to my heart would be an understatement. I’ve had the good fortune to be a part of the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (SCVMC) Historic Cemetery project since early in the excavation phase. I worked as an osteologist, excavating and analyzing remains for a total of five months in 2012 and 2013. This site will also be the focus of my dissertation, where I will examine the health and nutrition of the individuals buried there.

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Joseph Bradshaw


May 8, 2015

The Saharan World at a Glance is Launched!

May 8, 2015 | By | One Comment

I am happy to announce that my site the Saharan World at a Glance (SWAG) is now live. This site is an education resource designed to introduce an undergraduate audience to the history, culture and politics of North Africa and the Sahel. This site is specifically conceived of as a tool that students will access on their phones or tablets. The site is built like an online text book made up of short units. These units are meant to be used as introductory or supplementary reading for broader lessons. The first unit published on the site introduces orientalism in the North African context, focusing primarily on Algeria.

SWAG was inspired by my experiences as a teaching assistant at Michigan State. My first teaching experience was working alongside Dr. Peter Alegi, who builds a week of his coverage of Apartheid in South Africa around the site Overcoming Apartheid. I noticed that many students engaged with the site over their phones, often within the first few minutes before class. I remembered my own desperate circling of key arguments on freshly printed articles before classes. I figured that even though procrastination is not new, the way students digest information is. My project tries to recognize shifts in information consumption without sacrificing the quality of its content.

The CHI fellowship generously funded and supported the development of my site. As I set to work I was also teaching my first class composed almost entirely of freshmen, and I owe them some thanks. Teaching this class with Dr. Bailey helped me fine tune my approach to the site. End to end this site is meant for incoming underclassmen: even the goofy, yet easy to remember, title! I used the bootstrap, a mobile first framework, and chose a layout that looks best on tablets, large smart phones and small laptop screens. The units are composed of micro-essays. The writing is conversational and short paragraphs are broken up by captivating images.


The first unit relies heavily on nineteenth century art demonstrate orientalist trends in western thought. The essays are broken up into four sections I introduce Said’s critique and give a brief history of east-west divides. I then move on to a unit on masculinity followed by a unit on sexuality. I close with an attempt to weave the diverse threads together in a section on white slave narratives. Nestled within the broader lesson are introductory facts about the French conquest of Algeria, the civilizing mission, and slavery in Africa.

I see this site as an ongoing project. I plan to add a page that directs students to further readings and perhaps a more detailed gallery for this unit. I will also continue to add units as I develop courses and conduct my own research on Islam in Africa. The next unit will give an overview of Sufi Islam in Africa.



May 8, 2015


May 8, 2015 | By | No Comments

The Chenchu are one among several tribal communities who live in India. They are traditionally defined as a hunter-gatherer community, living primarily in the Nallamalai forests of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, India. However, such a definition provides a very limited understanding of who the Chenchu really are. There are various ways in which communities and groups of people are understood. Tribal and indigenous communities suffer from a very limited and narrow way of being represented and understood. While there are obvious historical and political factors that have contributed to such an understanding, it is my objective as an anthropologist, and someone who has an on-going relationship with the Chenchu to do my bit in dispelling these essentialized representations of the community. FieldworkNarratives is a project that is based primarily on this philosophy.

FieldworkNarratives is a pictorial journal of my fieldwork experiences with minimal text to provide basic information about the pictures. I have used StoryMaps, which is an online tool that facilitates storytelling to design my project. The project design is intentionally kept simple and straight-forward keeping in mind that my target audience is young groups of people between the age-groups 13-20 years. Moreover, I did not want to put too much emphasis on my own narrative, allowing instead for people to form their own ideas.

FieldworkNarratives in an on-going project that I will continue working on as my work with the Chenchu progresses. While this is a small step toward a larger goal which can only be fulfilled in collaboration with more people, I am excited about the launch of this project. The goal is to continue building on this through incorporating people’s suggestions as well broadening the scope of the project itself. For now, I am taking a moment to celebrate (i) my increased knowledge on cultural informatics and online applications, (ii) the first project of a digital format that I have ever created, and (iii) small victories toward long-term goals in my commitment of working with the Chenchu.





May 8, 2015

Launch of The Xicano Cookbook

May 8, 2015 | By | No Comments

17014307382_af78ac4277_oI am pleased to announce the launch of The Xicano Cookbook, a multi-modal essay documenting Xicano culture in the Great Lakes region. The website uses Xicano art, oral histories, and decolonial theory to describe some of the ways in which Xicanos make space and place for our culture, especially in regard to our food practices and visual media making.

It has been great having the chance to develop this project through the Cultural Heritage Informatics Graduate Fellowship this year. It changed forms many times during the past 8 months, but thanks to continuous critical feedback from my colleagues in CHI and in WRAC, I was able to develop a project that was both fun to work on and (hopefully) useful to Chicana/o Studies and CHI in general.

Originally, at the beginning of the academic year, I had envisioned making an interactive map that tracked my family’s migrant history from Mexico to Texas to Michigan. While these types of genealogies can often be worthwhile, the decolonial theory that was guiding my project pushed it in a different direction. Rather than providing a linear visualization of this migration history, I utilized the dynamic tools available through Story Maps to craft a digital essay that articulates invisibilized aspects of Xicano culture with an array of multimedia content. Using Story Maps allowed me showcase different kinds of media simultaneously—audio clips from interviews I conducted with local Xicano artists and cooks, photography and other visual images, and written text—and it has made my project much more interactive.

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May 7, 2015

Zulus on Display

May 7, 2015 | By | No Comments


I am very excited to announce the launch of Zulus on Display!

When I first returned to CHI this year, I planned to expand my project from the 2013-2014 fellowship, Imbiza: A Digital Repository of the 2010 World Cup (you can read more about that project here and here).  One of the main parts of Imbiza that I was hoping to expand upon was the geospatial visualizations that I built for version 1.0 that I had left out in the interest of time.  This, however, presented me with a problem that I had been dealing with since I first conceptualized Imbiza in late 2013.  Soccer is not the focus of my research.  I am a big soccer fan and I enjoy reading, writing, and teaching about the subject, when it comes right down to it, it’s a very strong side interest.  I am a historian of Zulu life and culture, especially the construction of and deployment of Zulu masculinity as an international trope.  While, in a way, this is connected to a project on soccer, during the course of Imbiza I had found myself doing a lot of work that took time away from my personal research.  So embarking on another year-long project delving with an academic interest, but not my main research focus was something that I was hesitant to approach.

I spoke with Ethan Watrall, our CHI director, about this earlier this year and he encouraged me to pursue a project that was more in tune with my research; in short, he told me that I should do a project that would help me prepare for my dissertation, instead of distracting me from it.  That’s when I thought about this project.  Since the mid-1850s, Europeans and Americans have been seemingly obsessed with what Jabulani Sithole has referred to using the idiom ubuZulu bethu (literally, “our Zuluness.”  But their fascination was not with “our Zuluness” but rather with “their” Zuluness, the Zulu ethnicity that could be packaged, displayed, and sold for a profit.  This project explores instances of Zulus and Zuluness being used as entertainment, as a commodity to be sold for a profit.  But this project also shows that this was not a one-way exchange, but rather a process that involved negotiation and adaptation by a variety of groups for a variety of different reasons.

Zulus on Display was built using a Twitter Boostrap framework, with a modified theme from Start Boostrap.  The map was built usingStoryMapJS.  Incorporating open access historical photographs, documents, newspaper clippings, and videos, this geospatial timeline allows for an exploration of the temporal and spatial components of this historical phenomenon while also providing a forum to explore broader themes embodied in the displaying of “Zulu” bodies as entertainment.  All of the photos and videos included in the map are openly available from various insitutions that can be linked from the citations under each photo.  You can access all of the files used to build this site on Github.  Below you can watch a presentation on this project that I presented at a LOCUS talk at Michigan State University in February 2015.

Image source: Royal Aquarium, Westminster. Farini’s Friendly Zulus, c. 1879 British Library.



May 4, 2015

Wheelwomen at Work is live!

May 4, 2015 | By | No Comments

I am excited to announce that Wheelwomen at Work is live!

Over the past academic year, I’ve been researching, writing and developing my CHI digital humanities project Wheelwomen at Work: Mapping Women’s Involvment in the Nineteenth-Century Bicycle Industry. For my launch post, I am going to recap why I developed the project, what tools I used, and future directions for the project.

My dissertation explores how nineteenth-century women used bicycling as an activist strategy. While conducting research, I uncovered how women’s involvement in the nineteenth-century bicycle industry was multifaceted and key to the industry as a whole, even though men held leadership positions in bicycle companies. I have found evidence of women who designed and produced bicycle accessories and clothing, while others developed frames and components. Women also worked in bicycle shops in sales and even as mechanics, and it was common for bicycle corporations to hire women as sales ‘agents’ to promote their brand. Other women quietly worked their way up to management positions in local factories. Young, working- class women were the invisible laborers behind most components and accessories, working long hours in dangerous machine shops and factory floors. I found a wealth of sources on women in the bicycle industry, yet they were largely scattered across archives. I believed these sources could be much more useful to scholars and lay enthusiasts in an accessible and organized format. I hoped that digitally curating these sources could allow for a deeper and richer understanding of women’s contributions to the bicycle industry, instead of reading individual women’s work as an outlining example isolated from one another.

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