“Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world.”
– Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Education has begun to embrace the digital environment, but institutions and instructors are faced with the decision to accept (or not) the possibilities that this new space offers to “practice freedom”. On its surface, one may wonder why a university or instructor would not choose freedom, but this question requires the deconstruction of everything we thought we knew about instruction from the definition of a “course,” to the roles of teachers and students, as well as the location of authority. Digital pedagogy forces us to examine each of these ideas, including the very concepts of “digital” and “pedagogy”.
In a recent article in the Digital Humanities Quarterly, Paul Fyfe asks if digital pedagogy must be practiced in an electronic environment and urges us to move beyond the notion that digital pedagogy is solely concerned with technology. Two problems attend this association: (1) technology can make it easier to teach in less, rather than more, engaging ways (i.e., the overuse of PowerPoint), and (2) the use of technology as another tool to do what was already done, thus removing the productively disruptive possibilities inherent in many technologies. Therefore, educators need to consider which electronic elements they will include in their course design, how they might be used to rethink the way teaching and learning take place, and how they might apply digital pedagogy even in “unplugged” classes. At its core, digital pedagogy is about hacking – altering, adapting, and making use of technology or “features of a system.”
A teacher is not necessarily a pedagogue, and someone who specializes in education understands the institution but not necessarily pedagogy. So what is pedagogy? It is the study of learning understanding the elements of timeliness, mindfulness, and improvisation that instructors consciously use to facilitate meaningful exchanges in (and outside) the classroom. According to Sean Michael Morris, author of “Decoding Digital Pedagogy, Pt 1: Beyond the LMS,” “pedagogy experiments relentlessly, honoring a learning that’s lifelong.” Digital pedagogy, in particular is important, not just because education seeks to embrace and utilize the digital world, but also because it is open to improvisation, to trying new things, and to inviting students into the process of crafting the instructional approach in this new space.
The Location of Authority
The digital environment forces us to rethink where authority lies and consider how we might move beyond the “flipped classroom” toward participant pedagogy, in which students are actively engaged in shaping instructional methodology. For this to happen, however, instructors must be willing to enter the classroom as participants as much as students must be willing to take ownership of their own learning. Once teachers and students are able to negotiate the location of authority and co-create a community of learners, they are equipped to address the subject matter with creativity, flexibility, and address the products of their study and collaboration to a larger audience beyond class participants. At that point, digital learning expands the original boundaries of the course to have farther-reaching outcomes than individual students’ grades. What began as an isolated college course becomes meaningful on a grander scale because of it lives in a digital landscape.
How, then, do we become digital pedagogues?
- Devote time to “researching, practicing, writing about, presenting on, and teaching digital pedagogies”
- Forget what you thought you knew about teaching
- Continually challenge yourself to seek out the new, the novel, and the unknown in your field, the usage of technology, and interrelated ideas in other fields
- Engage your students in the process of crafting your pedagogy
- Be open to change, to flip the classroom, and to take your instructional methodology into new, potentially uncharted, places.
The power of digital pedagogy lies in its innovative and disruptive nature, which urges scholars to re-examine educational structures long taken for granted. Courses burst out of their original containers as students and teachers alike discover links between and among various bodies of knowledge, thereby undermining arbitrary disciplinary borders. Most importantly, digital pedagogy compels practitioners to search out new ways to engage students in the creative analysis of subject matter and together with them “discover how to participate in the transformation of [our] world.”
My Cultural Heritage and Informatics (CHI) project will be an interactive web based history of soccer (football) in Zambian towns. The project will be centered on my ongoing doctoral dissertation research at Michigan State University. Drawing on archival and oral primary sources I collected in Zambia in 2008 during research for my Masters’ Thesis and 2012 pre-dissertation research, the project will focus on the political and social history of football in Zambia from 1940s to date.
The project will have two main components; the first part will be a map interface that will be built in Mapbox. This will be an interactive map of Zambia that will be the front page of the site and will provide introductory information to the project. It will also show ten towns that are connected by the main rail line in Zambia that have a long history of football. The towns will include: Chililabombwe, Chingola, Mufulira, Luanshya, Kitwe, Ndola, Kabwe, Lusaka, Mazabuka and Livingstone. The second part will be the detail page that will have the site structure, design, content and commenting or contributions features that will be built in WordPress. When one clicks on one of the towns in the map interface, the site will jump to the town’s detail page that will have a football history narrative of the town. Images, archival evidence and other sources such as oral histories will also be provided to support the narrative. The detail pages will also provide space where users will be able to make comments and suggestions to the narrative and other sources uploaded to the site.
Generally, football communities are always in need of well-documented information and evidence of the existence great football clubs and players in their communities. While this will be a scholarly project, it will not be limited to scholars only because Zambian men and women of different ages and educational levels are very interested in the game and have varying experiences and insights that they can contribute. The project will be open to make sure that all who are able to read, comment and participate in anyway are given an opportunity to do so. The goal is to bring out the role football has been playing in people’s lives in each town starting from the historical development of football clubs, individual players, supporters and football communities at large.
As primary sources on the history of football in Zambia are not easy to find, the interactive nature of the project will provide an opportunity for people interested in the game to participate and collaboratively play a role in the reconstruction of the history of football in each of the Zambian towns. The current enthusiasm in the game provides fertile ground for a public scholarly project that can give people an opportunity to participate in the reconstruction of the history of football in their communities.
“THAT Camp is like drinking from a fire hose.” – Organizer Marta Rivera Monclova on the first day of workshops.
I can attest to the truth of that! I just returned from my first THAT Camp, and I’m still trying to process the many conversations in and out of sessions and what I learned there. I arrived feeling like a freshman on a college campus but quickly discovered that although I have much to learn, I wasn’t as clueless as I thought.
This post highlights some of the hot topics and provides a glimpse into the state of the digital humanities (DH) as of mid-November 2012. In addition to the usual questions and tutorials on DH tools, issues of collaboration, open access, and whether or not coding is an essential skill in DH were the focus of many discussions.
Collaboration: Many of us in the digital humanities have big goals and to accomplish them, we need to work as teams. Several of the workshops and sessions focused on creating a DH Center, preserving cultural heritage through digital archives, concepts and issues in mapping projects, and text-editing. What did all have in common? The message: Don’t do it alone!
What are people saying about collaboration?
- @lynnelynne53: “How to kickstart a DH Center? People with idea and initiative, shared ideas desire to work together” (Lynne Siemens)
- @PHDeviate : “Community building IS an archival practice.” (M. Rivera Monclova)
- @bordalejo: “Very few people can make electronic editions alone. Find trustworthy collaborators.” (Barbara Bordalejo)
Open Access: While intellectual property rights need to be respected, there is a strong movement toward open access: making knowledge accessible for everyone without having to rely on attendance or employment at a Research I institution. A related question considered what formats (digital and print) would allow us to preserve knowledge over time.
What are people saying about open access?
- @southendpress asks the question: Do you believe in the robustness, durability of PDF as a format? Can we trust it?
- @elotroalex talks about #TEI as a potentially durable standard (Alex Gil)
- @RayS6 says Lots of copies keeps stuff safe has a modern corollary: lots of formats keeps stuff safe. (Ray Siemens)
- @THATCampCaribe: “The expense of print publication and of buying print works discourages publishing in less common languages”
- @THATCampCaribe: Takeaways: Don’t let any single source, format, location, corporation determine the future of the book!
- @dmer: “how do we as a culture preserve access to the contents of our books? Lots of copies, lots of formats, print too!” (Derek Merleaux)
- For more thoughts, see THAT Camp session proposal on the future of the book and knowledge in a digital age.
To code or not to code?
Barbarba Bordalejo addressed the question of how important it is to be a programmer as a digital humanist in the first day of workshops, and the question resurfaced in a session on foundational theories in DH. While there was no consensus, the most compelling argument was based on a definition of literacy and supported the position that digital humanists need to know how to code: If one is literate in a language or technology, one must be able to create something new. Therefore, to be fully literate in DH, one needs to understand and be able to use the language and structure of the cyber world (Java Script, HTML, CSS, XML, Python, etc.) For a review of programming tutorials, see Andrea Zellner’s recent Gradhacker article on “Learning to Code.”
DH Tools: I will make a list of the tools discussed at THAT Camp available on my blog site. For a grand roundup of digital tools, see dirt.projectbamboo.org/. In the many discussions of which tools work well for different types of projects, what struck me was the thought process and questions that drive such decisions. Here are a few of the most important to consider as you embark on a new endeavor:
- What kind of stories do you want to tell with your information?
- So what? Why is this project important? To whom?
- What is its purpose and how might its design contribute to that purpose?
- Who is your target audience and how will you make your work available to them?
- What metadata do you need to include and how will you do so?
Finally, for anyone considering attending or organizing a THAT Camp, I would strongly encourage you to do so! It’s as invigorating as a cold spray of water on a hot summer day and more energizing than your morning coffee. For more information, visit THAT Camp’s website.
When conceptualizing QUALANTH, I wanted to build a digital repository for researchers, like myself, who work with human research participants. Over the past year, I have tackled issues around privacy, protection of human subjects, IRB and consent form and tried to embody these issues when designing QUALANTH but this work is far from over. An overview about QUALANTH is available here.
Over the past 2011-2012, I was able to complete Phase One of QUALANTH, which basically entailed constructing the backend of the repository. There are a few issues that need to be addressed before QUALANTH can be launched publicly. Phase Two will consist of me actively seeking evaluation and critiques of QUALANTH, as a physical product and conceptually, from outside peers. I plan to continue to write blog posts about QUALANTH as well as seek out opportunities to present about the digital platform at anthropology conferences. After gathering feedback about QUALANTH, Phase Three will consist of embodying this feedback into a series of documents:
Supplementary Documents for Target Audience
- A User’s guide in the form of a video for website navigation.
- The development of a best practices document regarding working with human subjects data, IRB, open access and privacy concerns.
- Construction of consent agreements for interested contributors.
Lastly, Phase Four will entail constructing the front end of QUALANTH and launching the platform publically.
The fact remains is that I do see a place for researchers who work with human populations. While I can’t predict the future, an important step is to begin to have these conversations as well as offer up prototypes such as QUALANTH.
I want to thank the 2011-2012 MSU CHI collective, Ethan Watrall, Rachael Hodder, Emily Niespodziewanski, Charlotte Cable, and Alex Galarza, for troubleshooting with me during our weekly meetings. I also would like to thank Catherine Foley for taking out the time to work with me in working out the mechanics for QUALANTH.
From June 28th to July 1st, I had the opportunity to attend my first Allied Media Conference in Detroit, Michigan. The conference is put on by the Allied Media Projects (AMP), an organization dedicated to developing media strategies ‘for a more just and creative world’ by drawing on disciplines such as technology, education, and communications. AMP is also one of the founding members of Detroit Digital Justice Coalition, which is comprised of organizations dedicated to ‘activities that are grounded in the digital justice principles of: access, participation, common ownership, and healthy communities’.
This year, the Allied Media conference drew around 2,000 attendees. While the overall framework for the conference was social justice, the organizers divided the sessions into tracks, such as Web making, Analog Media, and Imagining Better Futures Through Game Design and Play. The conference also featured practice spaces, such as the Media-A-Go-Go Hands-on Technology space, where attendees had the chance to learn about how to use technology to create social change. One word: Awesome!
One of the sections that I followed during the conference was the ‘Research Justice for Movements and Community Voice’ track. The objective of this track was to encourage discussion about participatory research strategies and ways to use them to aid community social justice movements. One of the most enjoyable events I attended was a social networking dinner that brought together academics and non-academics interested in research justice. This meeting also called attention to empowering community members to take an active role when dealing with researchers rejecting the label of ‘research subjects’. There, I was able to discuss ways to incorporating social justice frameworks into my own work as an academic. However, the meeting was also used to discuss cultivating strategies to empower the community and community based organizations through increasing access to data that will help serve their needs as well. Questions I had after the meetings were: What kinds of data would they be looking for? What would a qualitative researcher, like myself, be able to offer anything useful or would they just be looking for numbers? In what ways, could digital platforms, such as a repository, help with this initiative?
One of the key observations that I made during the conference was the significant role data played for social justice movements when helping move their agendas forward. While I do believe it is important to recognize the tension that sometimes exists between academics and non-academics, I also believe that digital platforms have enormous potential in making this pertinent information more freely available. I think that honest conversations and collaborations between academics and non-academics will help continue the spread of research justice in different settings.
Going into building TALUS, I had minimal understanding of programming. Maybe in the 90s, I learned that if you surround text with <b> and </b>, that text will be bolded. And something about the existence of a hexadecimal number code system (weird). But that was pretty much it.
However, as a consumer, I feel more knowledgeable. I can tell the difference between a smoothly functioning app and a crappy one. I’ve noted broad trends in the evolution of internet and mobile aesthetic. Of course, most self-aware consumers can say the same things. And none of that vague understanding meant that I could make anything at all. One of the most basic obstacles I faced was not knowing how different programming and mark-up languages interacted with each other.
If you’re starting from the ground up, like I was, you may not know about the W3schools tutorials. They are an easy way to learn the basics of html markup. As @zenparty has noted about the benefits of learning to code, this gives you the ability to break down, tweak, and rebuild any html-based “stuff” you might be working with.
Recommended with reservations is a user-friendly app called Codiqa. These folks have worked hard to create a wysiwyg editor for the JQuery code. Codiqa uses a drag-and-drop method to put your skin together. This tool provided me with an easy way to familiarize myself with some of the more basic tools offered. The free version only allows a user to work on one project at a time, but the html for the project can be downloaded at any time. That way, I was able to see what buggy things were still happening. However, because Codiqa does not accept uploaded html, any fixes I find go into the changes log – I’ll polish everything at the end, but it doesn’t do any good to do so now.
I found that by discussing the difficulties I was having with my team, I was able to find the tools that I needed. And the tools to understand the tools. If you’re hooked up to a university as we are fortunate to be, you may want to investigate the tutorials available at Lynda - these do require some prerequisite knowledge, though. Even as a novice, I was able to stumble through the steps of gathering text, sorting it into an architecture, and designing the layout using JQuery Mobile (and Codiqa).
What tools did you use to learn to create digital products?
Coding in the humanities has been the topic of much heated discussion. The conversation has spanned the shoulds-and-should-nots, the whys-and-why-nots, and the who-and-who’s-nots. What troubles me most about the conversations surrounding coding in the humanities is that the notion of coding is constructed as almost monolithic which dangerously lends to the construction of Coding, Coders, and Coding Culture wherein all Coders have ascended some pre-determined set of skill markers to attain the same knowledge, skills, and motives. The fact of the matter is that this just isn’t true – people code in a variety of different programming and markup languages at varying skill-levels to accomplish any number of goals and aims. This monolithic representation of Code is damaging to both people who build on the web and aspiring builders; it creates a tense climate and alienates potential teachers from new/potential learners, making the literacies, skills, and rationale involved in coding even more difficult to access.
That said, I’d like to take a break from critiques and prescriptive arguments about Coding and instead talk about how I came to my competencies as a builder of web things. I think that personal narratives are missing from the conversation about coding in the humanities and I hope that by sharing mine perhaps others will consider writing their own. In sharing our backgrounds, I think that we can dismantle this emerging monolithic representation of Coding and foster productive fellowship among those who wish to partake in humanities computing. So, what follows is my narrative… my origin story, so to speak.
When I was a teenager, I didn’t learn HTML and CSS because I had the foresight to know they’d be valuable to me down the road. In reality, the skills I learned as a kid were informed by the tasks I wanted to accomplish at the moment. That means, I didn’t learn to build things on the web by memorizing HTML tags and CSS elements and rules first; I learned to code because I wanted to make something that hadn’t already been made for me. This mode of project-based learning was paramount to my development as a builder and a scholar. It was key in helping me attain a sense of agency that continues to drive me to conceptualize and pursue web-based projects and work.
A more detailed account of my coding literacy narrative follows below.
Read the rest of this entry »
This following post is an interview that I recently conducted with Adeline Koh, Assistant Professor of Post Colonial Studies at Richard Stockton College. With a PhD in Comparative Literature, Koh’s research interests include global feminisms, British, Southeast Asian and African literature and the digital humanities. During the 2012-2013 academic year, Koh will be a visiting faculty fellow at Duke University with the Humanities Writ Large Program. The following interview is largely comprised of Koh’s interests around the topic of Race in the Digital Humanities and her two digital projects, The Stockton Postcolonial Studies Project and Digitizing ‘Chinese Englishmen’.
FR: So, tell me about your research interests and background.
AK: I work in the intersections of postcolonial studies and the digital humanities. I am trying to see how the digital world can change how we see the postcolonial world.
I’m actually working on a project based on my dissertation project. It’s called ‘Cosmopolitan Whiteness and Practices of Privilege in the Postcolonial World’ and what I look at is how Whiteness is assumed by people of color in postcolonial countries. I do a comparative study in Southeast Asia and West and Southern Africa in how Whiteness functions in the postcolonial world. There are a lot of people who have written about Whiteness from an American perspective, but…little has been done in non western settings. Generally, they have focused on the Whiteness of people how are of European descent and I’m interested in how Non-White people appropriate Whiteness.
FR: I really enjoyed your website and found your MLA proposal on Race and DH fascinating. This is definitely a topic I think has been underdeveloped in the field.
AK: It’s an interesting discussion. My understanding is that I think these discussions have gone on for a longer time in terms of media studies [and] the field of communications. People like [Lisa] Nakamura…and Alondra Nelson. I think the digital humanities is a relatively newish thing though some people would say its actually not that new because the old name for digital humanities was humanities computing. Recently, in the last 5 to 10 years, [it] has become rebranded into the digital humanities and has become the new big thing that everybody is interested in. So, the discussions about race….The people who do talk about race in the digital humanities borrow language from people who have previously written on race and the new media studies. A new book that has recently come out about this is Race After the Internet edited by Peter Chow-White and Lisa Nakamura. It’s an edited volume with really interesting essays. [Deals with] how people are grappling with this topic.
AK: On and off, people have been talking about this in terms of asking why the digital humanities really hasn’t been dealing with cultural studies. So, on the one hand, the people who do talk it borrow the language from communications and new media studies. People are articulating that digital humanities [are] resistant to cultural studies and cultural studies approaches. This, I think, also has to do with this debate between more hack/less yack. It’s been growing for awhile. So, this introduction of theory into the digital humanities has [been] met with some kind of resistance. So, I think this resistance to cultural studies is [related] to the resistance theory in general. We should have more hacking and less yacking. The digital humanities, or parts of it, are skeptical of theory. We are starting to talk about it.
AK: You’ve heard of Transform DH, haven’t you?
FR: I’ve seen parts of it.
AK: They post things under the hashtag #transformdh. It came out from the American Studies Annual Meeting. They are basically asking why the digital humanities doesn’t talk about race and this implicit Whiteness that undergirds the digital humanities. So, we put together a panel called ‘Transform the Digital Humanities’ where we are supposed to be talking about race, gender, all these things. We put it together for the last ASA. Apparently, their attendance was quite small. So, the question is being articulated, but it’s not really that mainstream. I don’t know if it will be mainstream.
FR: How did you first come across the discipline of digital humanities? Do you remember your initial thoughts on how your discipline can contribute to the field?
AK: I don’t remember when I first came across the digital humanities. But, I have always like computers. I have always been kind of nerdy that way. When I first started my position at Stockton College, I thought [of] the idea of creating a digital postcolonial studies project with my students. I think postcolonial studies have really important things to say. But, I think that the way in which it is usually said by most post colonial scholars is so obscure and difficult to understand that most people get turned off and just don’t want to engage with it. I thought one of the ways to make it more accessible was to try to is to get my students to explain things in simpler English in a more lively way. I worked with my students individually to produce different projects. I think the digital world is the way to make whatever you are interested in more findable and accessible. I got into what I do because I really care about the messages of postcolonial studies. I’m trying to bring a more fun and accessible version of postcolonial studies to the web.
AK: A few months ago, I launched a new website called ‘Digitizing Chinese Englishmen’. I’m trying to digitize and put content online of this journal that was published from 1837 until 1902. I wanted to be online the contents of this English and Mandarin language journal that was published in Singapore. It is a really interesting journal, because its about Chinese subjects of the British Empire were trying to present themselves as loyal English subjects as well as define themselves as Chinese diasporic subjects. There are 3 main contributors to the volumes: one were people who had migrated from China and presented themselves as British, as well as European officials who were stationed in Malaya, as well as people living in the region. I wanted to put this project together because there is a lot of material on 19th century subjects and writers but mostly they are about White people. I think that the more of these supposedly obscure texts that we can find online, the more we will change how we look at the 19th century. The more we can find out how people who are not widely represented. I want people to have access to these stories.
FR: Thank you for your time.
AK: No problem!
Social Media and Digital Life in Oman 2: “شوي شوي”
This post begins were the previous post left off: exploring the potential for social media in Oman, particularly as a forum for cultural heritage education, research, and outreach. Specifically, I am interested in considering the ways in which different social media may be leveraged (or created) for Omani cultural heritage.
I had pinned my hopes on an upcoming trip to the Sultanate in June, during which my colleagues and I were to come together with certain department heads of the National Ministry of Heritage and Culture to discuss the future – research, education, outreach, and general development – of Bat. I wanted to brainstorm about digital projects already incorporated into Ministry infrastructure and outreach – and (as I mentioned in my last post) most of these conversations are best done face-to-face. Although many Omanis (and all Ministry employees) have email accounts, in my experience – certainly compared to my American colleagues – they are infrequently used. Yes, if you want to get something done in Oman, you do it face-to-face. Therefore, this short trip to Oman (only 3 days on the ground) would have been the perfect opportunity to discuss things like cultural heritage QR codes, digital repositories and data sharing, online libraries and education, website development for Bat’s cultural heritage, etc. In particular I wanted to learn from my Omani colleagues about Arabic-language websites – blogs, SNSs, etc. – I should be following. In theory I speak/read/write Arabic – but only “شوي شوي” (“very little”).
The phrase “شوي شوي” – which transliterates as something like “shwayye shwayye” – is perhaps one of the most important lessons and cultural characteristics of Omani life. Besides “very little”, it has several other meanings, among them: “slowly, slowly”, “little by little”, and “…careful…” Not a day goes by without that phrase being used, and it expresses everything from the leisurely gait of shoppers, to the lengthy cooking (and eating) processes, to the seemingly endless greetings exchanged between acquaintances. So how is digital – hyped by “faster-is-better” – useful in a culture of “slowly, slowly”?
One of the most impressive aspects of Oman development has been the ways in which they – both the government and the people – have sought to incorporate specific technological, medical, and educational elements common to the “Christian West” (that phrase is in quotation marks for a reason – please, no arguments here on this gloss!). Examples of this have included: the current Ministry of Health initiative to create an integrated record system across the country’s nationalized (but disconnected) health care system; “Omanuna” kiosks located at central markets which give Omanis access to government e-services – everything from their individual traffic tickets to their electricity bills; and this week’s World Telecommunication & Information Society Day 2012. The latter article is government media (and looks, sounds, and feels like it, too), but it is interesting to note that the Omani government is actively seeking to increase the social and economic participation of women, which, at 30%, is the highest of any Gulf nation. “Andy in Oman” has captured one of my favorite billboard signs: “Women are half the population – their success is our triumph!” Women are also rather prolific bloggers. I have absolutely no statistics to back this up, only my experience: my favorite is http://howtolivelikeanomaniprincess.blogspot.com. When visiting the site you can read the side note, which points to the importance of modesty for Omani women bloggers: “Please Be Kind: This blog is [now] a combination of the stories and experiences of three women into the character of one [so no one can mouth one or the other]. Just a quick favor to beg, if anyone reading this blog guesses any one of our IRL (in real life) identities, please hold off on putting it in the comments box.”
I hope to post next on the potential for Omani women (and girls) to go digital, and the ways in which they are already doing so. What does Facebook mean for women who try to remain faceless? And what the heck does that have to do with archaeological heritage management? Tune in next time…
Twitter has proven to be an extremely useful platform for learning about current medical anthropology research, call for proposals, and related digital projects. As an emerging scholar, it has also been the place where I have been able to interact with senior anthropologists. On Twitter, medical anthropologists such as Lance Gravlee, David Simmons and Hannah Graff. With that being said, medical anthropology graduate students outpaces the number faculty and/or applied medical anthropologists on Twitter.
In terms of blogging platforms featuring a significant amount of medical anthropology related content, Somatosphere and Neuroanthropology post content regularly. A multi-individual driven effort, Somatosphere features content covering areas such as bioethics, medical anthropology, science, and psychiatry. A significant amount of its contributors are either graduate students and/or early career academics. Neuroanthropology, hosted by PLoS, examines the intersections of anthropology and neuroscience and is maintained by anthropologists Daniel Lende and Greg Downey.
Medical anthropology digital project contributions are few, but there have been a few notable contributions. Over the past few years, Daniel Lende and his students have taken on the ambitious project of constructing a Medical Anthropology Wiki designed to cover foundational methods and concepts within the field. Another project that would be of interest to medical anthropologists would the Asthma Files collaborative , which examines the etiology of asthma from multidisciplinary setting and brings in the expertise of social scientists, artists, scientists, etc. The Asthma Files collaborative team includes anthropologists, such as Kim Fortun, Mike Fortun, and Alison Kenner.
While at the 2011 American Anthropological Association meeting last year in Montreal, Canada, I was able to talk to quite a few anthropologists about my experience as a CHI fellow. Our conversations primarily focused on thoughts about digital medical anthropology as a way to enhance scholarly collaboration and communication. In the end, I received a mixed bag of reactions. On one hand, I was given the green light to construct a digital repository for a Society for Medical Anthropology CAGH Task Group. On the other hand, I think it is important to discuss the present hesitance and skepticism during this conversation. For example, several medical anthropologists engage in qualitative research gathering much of our data from living human subjects. Therefore, we must engage in conversations about developing best practices for protecting the safety and identity of our participants while contributing to digital projects. I hope to address some of these concerns through my CHI project, a digital repository, which will be designed to house qualitative data.
I think one out of many entry points concerning the usage of digital space and platforms by medical anthropologists would be the consideration of digital as a form of social justice and community engagement. This approach would bring up questions such as, ‘How could we put this approach in conversation with the digital divide?’ This stance of course is nothing new, but I think it would speak to the broader discipline.