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May 14, 2014

CUBORIENTE: Image Mapping Africa-Inspired Religio-Cultural Heritage in Eastern Cuba…Launched!

May 14, 2014 | By | One Comment

The Cuboriente website project is dedicated to a digital image mapping of Africa-inspired religio-cultural heritage in the eastern, Oriente region of Cuba. Motivated by the opportunities of the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative (CHI), Cuboriente developed from a desire to contribute to Afro-Caribbean digital humanities work. The project is grounded in the eastern Cuba research of the African Atlantic Research Team (AART) of Michigan State University. The website represents the collaborative efforts of Prof. Jualynne E. Dodson, director of AART, CHI Fellow Shanti Zaid, and Dr. Sonya Maria Johnson, building on the work and resources of the Research Team. We created Cuboriente as a digital public educational resource to showcase some of the African heritage religious and cultural activity from a region of the island that few have a chance to see.

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February 6, 2014

Africa Inspired Socio-Cultural Heritage in Oriente Cuba: A Digital Mapping Project

February 6, 2014 | By | No Comments

My Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative project is a digital mapping that focuses on contributions from Cuba’s African heritage to socio-cultural spaces and places in the island’s eastern, Oriente region. Oriente has had an historical African presence dating back as early as the 1520s and the area has been the province from which began all of Cuba’s military contestations for independence.

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December 18, 2013

Toilet Technology: The Appropriation of Bathrooms for Digital Activity

December 18, 2013 | By | No Comments

One of the distinguishing, if not alarming qualities of our current historical moment is that cultural change occurs so rapidly and dramatically that one generation can scarcely recognize the next.  Digital innovations of even the last twenty years have so forcefully changed everyday behaviors and communicatory norms that a grandparent simply asking a grandchild “what are you up to?” will likely end in confusion or belabored explanation.  Home routines are similarly succumbing to the speed of change as digital devices become more common and portable.  Years ago, I heard a man proudly proclaim that his new iPhone was the first thing he touched every morning and the last thing he touched every night.  Yet, perhaps one of the oddest and what elders might find least recognizable changes to customs of the home is how digital technology has intruded into one of the home’s most sacred sanctuary spaces…the bathroom.

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October 17, 2013

In Pursuit of a Digital Academic Workflow: Putting Digital Reading, Annotating, and Citation Management to Work for Your Studies

October 17, 2013 | By | 4 Comments

I’ve always been one of those students who had trouble taking notes from readings.  I’ve tried a variety of strategies with varying degrees of success and most of these revolved around ways to write notes on paper, Word documents, or annotate hard copy texts themselves. Yet, I encountered problems with keeping track of notes and citations over time and even the basic step of making enough time to read AND take good notes.  I also experienced some bibliophilic trauma when I moved a few years ago and had to give away much of my personal library of heavily annotated books.  These experiences motivated me to explore ways to develop a digital workflow, so that I could keep as much of my library, as well as notes and annotations, on my computer or online for greater durability of access through life’s changes.  What follows is what I have found to be a useful digital academic workflow to minimally supplement the study habits of today’s students and scholars.

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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.