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dglovsky

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October 21, 2018

Mapping Internal African Migration

October 21, 2018 | By | No Comments

My research focuses on a particular borderland split between four West African countries: Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Guinea. Since the late 19th century, people in this borderland have moved between countries for a variety of reasons and in multiple directions. I plan to use my CHI Fellowship to map some of these movements.

For some of these locations, this is not a major issue. I was able to collect geographic coordinates for the 110 villages, towns, and cities in which I interviewed people during my fieldwork in 2016 and 2017 (see the below map for the sites of my interviews). However, the problem becomes in tracking where these people came from. Some people discussed their own migration from villages that may no longer exist, or are in different locations from where they had previously been. Additionally, there are often several villages or towns with the same name, particularly when the name has religious meaning. In other cases, villages have multiple names, and so the officially recorded name in government documents may not line up with the information I was given. Other people I spoke with discussed the migration of their parents or grandparents, and only knew the names of particular districts from which those people migrated but not the villages themselves.

Despite popular perception, most African migrants don’t actually leave the continent. Without even considering migration within individual countries, most international migration in Africa occurs from neighboring countries. Côte d’Ivoire alone hosts 1.3 million migrants from Burkina Faso, while nearly 600,000 Ivorians live in Burkina Faso. For some perspective, Burkina Faso’s population is estimated at nearly 20 million, with Côte d’Ivoire’s nearing 25 million.

Countless articles in newspapers around the globe understandably discuss the migrant crisis in Europe, with Africans (and others) trying desperately to cross the Mediterranean in search of a better life. However, the more demographically significant migration of those within the continent remains understudied. But how to represent these migration in a way that transcends numbers? This is what I hope to do through CHI.

Many of the people I spoke with migrated short distances, in some cases less than 10 miles. Are these individuals foreigners in their new countries? Are they considered international migrants? These are some of the questions I explore through my own research. While other aspects of African migration are worth of study, these more localized studies remain opaque for much of the public. Digital Humanities practitioners have the ability to bring these migrants into the public eye, and are also able to more easily share their research with the public in Africa. During my 4 years in West Africa, I was constantly reminded how much of academic knowledge is sealed off from the outside world through expensive journals and scholarly monographs. Graduate students and faculty at the University of Dakar would ask me if I had particular articles that they could not access. While more journals are open-access than in the past, much scholarly research still remains behind closed doors, inaccessible to those being written about.

However, rural Africans are increasingly gaining access to the internet through smart phones and improved wireless infrastructure. Thus, if research can be made accessible online, it can be accessed by growing numbers of Africans, including those whose communities are the subject of academic scholarship.

plemonsa

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October 17, 2018

Privacy in Digitally-Driven Projects in Forensic Anthropology

October 17, 2018 | By | No Comments

Today, the majority of research and daily practices in Forensic Anthropology have a digital component. When writing grant proposals for forensic research, institutions, such as National Institute of Justice or the National Science Foundation, generally fund projects that have deliverables in the form of large data mining and sharing via digital sources. In daily practice, forensic anthropologists aim to identify individuals primarily through the use of software with large amounts of reference data to which they compare their target individual.
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koutiany

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October 16, 2018

Who am I? Nationality, identity, and digital tools

October 16, 2018 | By | No Comments

In 1922, Albert Einstein said, “Since the theory of relativity is accepted by the readers, nowadays, I am recognized as a ‘German scholar’ in Germany and the ‘Swiss Jew’ in Britain. However, if my theory is no longer popular or accepted, then I immediately turn into the ‘Swiss Jew’ for the Germans and the ‘German scholar’ for the British.”*

The quote above is Einstein’s answer to the question “who am I?”. One can simply answer this one of the most frequently mentioned philosophical questions with his name, occupation, nationality or other characteristics. Nationality is one of the distinctive characteristics that could potentially help people to identify themselves. However, under the effect of the globalization and other historical events, the migration of populations tends to play a significant role at this present stage. Under this background, identifying oneself simply with nationality becomes more complicated. Not only does the individual need to find out to which nationality (nationalities) do they belong, but their choice is also affected by the question, “what do other people think I am?”

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holteri1

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October 12, 2018

A Question of Authenticity: Digital Artifacts in Museums

October 12, 2018 | By | No Comments

One of the reasons I was drawn to the CHI fellowship was my interest in the digital preservation of artifacts and historical sites for use in museums. I saw the opportunities of photogrammetry and 3D rendering as essential to the future of museums of any kind and wanted to learn more about the possibility of making history more tangible through digital tools. However, one of the main issues raised against the use of digital artifacts in museums is the question of authenticity.

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cartyrya

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October 11, 2018

Data from the Atlantic Slave Trade

October 11, 2018 | By | No Comments

I am currently supporting Matrix with Enslaved, a digital project that links historical datasets related to the Atlantic slave trade. My work includes looking at data compiled by different historians and reorganizing that data so it is easier to link to other datasets. Most of these datasets are organized by person and include a number of characteristics for each person, as enumerated in the historical documents. The characteristics may include name, birthdate, sex, age, and occupation. They may also include descriptors for color/race, ethnonym, and place of origin.

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TaylorPanczak

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October 8, 2018

Access to Digital Humanities: a critique

October 8, 2018 | By | No Comments

With the invention and advancement of the digital humanities, anthropology is in a unique position to be inclusive to the populations that are being studied. We as curators of digital archives have the opportunity to help enable access to a societies cultural heritage but is access always equal? Hypothetically, access to the digital humanities should be equal but in practice, this may not be true. The most obvious reason for unequal access is technological availability. According to Internet World Stats, which provides information about internet usage worldwide and collects data from various sources such as the United Nations and the International Telecommunications Union, on average, only 55.1% of a given geographic regions population has internet access. When this figure is broken down further, access to the internet is unequally distributed across the globe with North America (95%) and Europe (86.1%) having the most regular access and Africa (36.1%) and Asia (49%) having the least. The perception of everyone having access to computers or the internet is clearly rooted in a western bias and needs to be addressed when considered when creating a digital archive. Without this consideration, who are we presenting for besides ourselves and a general Western audience? What is considered the “public” needs to be addressed and reevaluated.

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legershe

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September 30, 2018

Whaddup!

September 30, 2018 | By | No Comments

I’m Shewonda Leger. I am a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures, with a specialization in women’s and gender studies. I take my responsibilities as a scholar seriously, because there are very few Haitian American women like myself in academic spaces. Therefore, my research makes space for conversations about diasporic Haitian women’s embodied learning practices and lived experiences in both academic and nonacademic spaces.

I am invested in finding modes of creating and circulating knowledge for communities that have always been othered or silenced. I continue to find the best ways of incorporating digital technologies and multimodal practices in my teaching, because traditional standards of teaching have privileged text-based forms of writing.

I love making films. I love watching films. I love telling stories. I love listening to stories.

TaylorPanczak

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September 27, 2018

There and Back Again: A CHI fellows tale-Taylor Panczak

September 27, 2018 | By | No Comments

Hi my name is Taylor Panczak and I am a 1st year graduate student at MSU. I have recently transferred into the anthropology program from Northern Illinois University where I completed my first year of graduate studies. I am an archaeologist with a specific focus on lithic technology and the construction of digital representations of  archaeological artifacts. For my masters thesis, I am currently working on creating a projectile point typology from the Terminal Pleistocene highland site of Cuncaicha rockshelter located in the southern Andes of Peru. I am also exploring the nature of inter-zonal connections between the highlands and the coast of Peru by comparing projectile points of similar morphology. I am working with Dr. Kurt Rademaker throughout this project and plan on perusing my PhD soon after I have completed my M.A at MSU.

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in the spring of 2017 with a B.S. in Anthropology. During my undergrad, I had the opportunity to travel to Ukraine twice to participate in excavations at the neolithic archaeological site of Verteba cave During these field seasons I learned valuable information about archaeological methodology and how to be culturally relative. This was my first experience leaving the United States and I quickly learned that no matter how much you wanted to be on time, sometimes the bus just doesn’t show up for that day and you had to take this setback in stride.

This past summer I spent 10 weeks in Peru where I conducted research for my own thesis and also participated in geologic survey of southern Peru. My experiences this summer have changed my outlook on archaeology and have shaped the way I will conduct research in the future. Throughout the field season I would encounter setbacks while attempting to create 3D models of projectile points. Some days the models would not render, the hostel I was staying at would not have electricity, or a variety of issues would occur with the model making software. I quickly learned that it did not matter if I had created 1 3D model or 30 on a given day, I could not give up and had to keep pressing on no matter how much I pleaded with Aegisoft to work.

I am very excited about the upcoming year with CHI and hope to leave a lasting impact on archaeology by creating a large digital archive of the projectile points at Cuncaicha.

plemonsa

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September 26, 2018

Identifying Amber Plemons

September 26, 2018 | By | No Comments

Hello, unidentified individuals. I use that term frequently. Unidentified individuals.

My name is Amber Plemons. I am identified. I have the ability to speak and advocate for myself. But what happens when unidentified human skeletal remains are discovered? Their voice has to be restored through someone else, whether the goal is to provide justice for a cruel act bestowed upon them or closure for loved ones.

I am a third year PhD student in Biological Anthropology, focusing in Forensic Anthropology. As a forensic anthropologist, much of my days are spent attempting to narrow down candidate lists for identifying unknown persons, researching new methods to improve identification efforts, or improving and building upon these established methods.

I began this career path years ago (more than I care or am willing to admit) at Texas State University, where I received a B.S. in Anthropology, followed by my M.A. in Applied Anthropology at Mississippi State University. At Mississippi State, “the other MSU”, I managed databases for prehistoric and historic skeletal assemblages. Here, I realized the power of digital curation of information for past populations, both biological and cultural material, and became interested in digital projects involving bioarchaeological and forensic skeletal collections.

At “the real MSU”, Michigan State University, I work with Dr. Joseph Hefner to build a reference databank of cranial macromorphoscopic trait data, traits used to estimate ancestry in skeletal remains. The goal of this project is to record the patterns of trait variation across the world in hopes of increasing accuracy and reliability of ancestry estimations. By folding these efforts into a digital project, we increase the ability to exchange data with researchers around the world. This is what encouraged me to become a CHI Fellow, where I hope to map trait expressions to create a visual representation of human craniofacial variation. We can then easily relate trait variation patterns to geographic barriers, climate and humidity, population histories, and genetic data to understand what shapes craniofacial morphology. This project will help to improve and refine ancestry estimations and aid in increasing the likelihood of identifying ‘unidentified individuals’.

koutiany

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September 24, 2018

Titi Kou: The one who can’t think of a good title

September 24, 2018 | By | No Comments

Hallo! Titi here. My full name is Tianyi Kou and I am a second year PhD student in German Studies. Titi is my nickname that my family used to call me when I was younger and I really liked it. When I moved to Michigan, I just decided to go with it and so far it’s been working well. (laugh)

I was born and raised in Beijing, China, where I received my bachelor and M.A degrees in German Studies. During the second year of the M.A, I moved to Erfurt, Germany for a year as an exchange student. Aside from attending seminars, I spent most of the time traveling in Germany and in Europe. I rode a bike to a small town on the west side of Europe in the Netherlands and touched the North Sea. I also spent ten hours down in a mine, eating bratwurst and quarrying beautiful minerals. With an extroverted personality, I prefer to talk to local people and learn about their life and culture. Older people tend to have the best stories to share. They are the living history book!

MSU German department and its supportive attitude towards my research interest attracted me to move here and to start a new chapter of my life. Within the field of German Studies, I mainly focus on examining how soccer as a cultural phenomenon relates to German national identity. In order to present a clear picture of how Germany’s soccer competition system evolved to the present days, I intend to use digital tools to enhance the accessibility of the history and provide a more explicit overview.

In addition, I am also looking forward to getting to know more people from other fields and to observe how they conduct their research. So far I’ve been working with Dan, Zach, and Shewonda and they are great teammates! Each one of them has their specialties and they are all super charming in different ways.

Next thing that needs our full attention: WHAT SHOULD WE EAT FOR LUNCH next Friday? (All suggestions are welcomed.)