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Tos_Ram

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May 6, 2016

Launching Michicanxs of Aztlán: Stories of Xicano Culture in Michigan

May 6, 2016 | By | No Comments

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Now live and available for your viewing pleasure, Michicanxs of Aztlán is a website documenting Xicano culture in Lower Michigan. This project grew out of my work in CHI last year with The Xicano Cookbook project, and I decided to branch off in order to take a slightly different approach on a very similar topic. Whereas last year’s project functioned like a digital essay that discursively discussed various theories, stories, and images related to Xicano culture, this year’s project is more like a collection of snapshots. By focusing on a small number of stories, I have been able to contextualize my data to a greater extent by giving it more space within my website.

Created as part of the Cultural Heritage Informatics Graduate Fellowship program, Michicanxs of Aztlán is also intended to function as an ongoing sort of repository of Xicano narratives. Great Lakes Xicanos in particular have limited space—virtually or physically—to display our work, and few repositories like this exist currently digitally.

Michicanxs of Aztlán currently displays three stories written as part of an independent in Xicano/Indigenous rhetorics, which I took fall semester 2015. Each story has its own page, with an individualized header that includes a representative image and short description of the narrative. I’ve included these descriptions below.

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Bernard C. Moore

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April 25, 2016

A Review of Namibiana Resources on the Web

April 25, 2016 | By | No Comments

A Review of Namibiana Resources on the Web

As I have mentioned in previous Blog posts for the CHI, the Namibia Digital Repository contains two main endeavors. First, it is a digitization project; countless hours have been spent standing in front of scanners digitizing books and papers, and many more have been spent setting up VHS players to record to hard drives. I have described the process of digitization in a previous post on 29, January, 2016.

This post describes the other goal of the NDR, agglomeration of existing digital resources regarding Namibia which are already on the web. A few qualifiers should be made. First, the goal of pulling existing resources – whether from university repositories, NGO web-sites or government publications – is not about replacing these repositories. It is about providing an additional home to the files. One of the less appreciated aspects of digitization and the digital humanities is the maintenance and organization of digital resources.1

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jfelipe195

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March 22, 2016

BARDSS: The Administrator and the User Interface

March 22, 2016 | By | No Comments

This post explores the structure of BARDSS and, in particular, how we envision the user interface which might be launched by the end of April, 2016. BARDSS is divided into two main domains: the data entry/administrator interface and the user, search, and visualization interface. The data entry is only accessible for those working in the project. It is used by the team in charge of extracting the data from the documents and migrating it to the software. The user interface has a main landing web-page with diverse sections. The most important tool in the user interface is the search tool. This is where users can do crossed search based on the fields already listed and that we already introduced to the readers in the last post.

This is how we migrate data from the documents to the data entry form or administrator interface (Fig. 1): In order to make everything faster, we divide the screen into two windows, one for the database entry section, and the other for the digitized copy of the baptismal records. It looks more difficult than it actually is. There are many predetermined field that we just need to click on to add the data. For example, if we click on gender, legal status or filiation , a tab open with the limited options for those fields. We just need to select one of them. Once a field is added, we can reuse it without needing to write it again. For example, in the field “African origin,” every time we find a new “African nation” we click on the icon (+) and add the new nation. This feature works in the same way for owner, priest, church, and location. Once added, everything is faster. Fields are reusable. If the conditions are favorable, the images are clear, and the calligraphy is not extremely complicated, we usually spend around three minutes to add a single baptismal record to the database. We can access to the list of every record we have added and we can edit them whenever we want (Fig. 2).

addbaptismFig 1: Screenshot of the data entry section or administrator interface

dataentryFig. 2: Screenshot of a record list from the administrator interface

The user Interface: a work in progress

This is how we envision the user interface (Fig.3). The landing page will contain the basic information of BARDSS, but most important, the search tool. The section Using the Database offer to the users some instruction of how to navigate the site. This section will also contain the description of the fields. In particular, we want to highlight that some fields need to be approached carefully such as “African Nation” and “Race.” This section will also contain a glossary of historical terms that are usually used in the documents. Map and Images will contain some significative images related to slavery in places represented on BARDSS such as Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, and Florida. An interactive map will show the location of those parishes that show up on the site. About the Project is dedicated to acknowledging those institutions and individual contributors that have helped to make this project possible. It will also have some links to related projects such as the ESSS or the “Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database”. Finally, the Contribute will make possible for users working with baptismal records on slave societies to collaborate with our project. We have not decided yet what would be the best way to make possible this collaboration through an interactive method between collaborators and administrators.

userinterface                                                            Fig. 3: BARDSS landing page

The most important section in BARDSS is the search tool, this is the core of this project. The goal is that users can make different types of crossed search based on the fields contained in the database. There are two main ways to search in the database, by data categories or by text. Data categories are those fixed fields we used to move the information from the document to the database. The great majority of the fields from BARDSS could be considered “data categories.” Some examples are gender, origin, filiation, legal status, age category, etc. The text category refers to those fields that are mainly plain text, such as names of the owners, baptized individual, mother, father, etc. The left side of the side in the search section will contain a list of the data and the users just need to choose/filter to obtain the results. After the search, the results will show up in a table expandable columns containing the fields selected during the search. Based on the successful project, the “Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database,” BARDSS will make possible to the users to visualize their search. The results can be manipulated in the form of graphs, pie charts, and bar charts. Next section will show some of this features and some samples of the type of visualization users can expect from BARDSS.

serchtool                                            Fig. 4: The search tool, a work in progress

Tos_Ram

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March 22, 2016

“Crunk Mestizaje” Story Preview

March 22, 2016 | By | No Comments

For my CHI project this year, I am building a website that will host stories of Xicano cultural survivance in Michigan. I’d like to take the opportunity with this blog post to give a preview of one story to be featured on that site. Enjoy!

In 2004 my brother—stage64ebca376845f34bc5a6fe3d9e78ba07f5c84e05 name “the Latino Saint,” or “Saint” for short— released a crunk rap album entitled, Half Breed. As far back as I can remember, his music has pretty much always been about partying and taking pride in Mexican and Latino identities; this album is no exception. Half Breed takes its name from the mixed Mexican and white backgrounds from which we both come. As with most crunk music, much of the content is centered around alcohol, dancing and celebrating life with friends and family. Yet, in spite of the negative connotation of the term “half breed” itself, Saint delivers these club songs from an unapologetically Mexican perspective, reclaiming both the term and the concept of “half breed” and using it to assert his own position as a Mexican MC from the Midwest.

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Bernard C. Moore

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January 29, 2016

The Process of Digitization

January 29, 2016 | By | No Comments

My past couple of posts have been more on the political and ethical side of digitizing materials for the Namibia Digital Repository. This post will approach the project from the other side: the process of digitization. For those who are conducting historical research, digitizing materials is a necessity if we are going to ever finish these dissertations in an organized and structured manner. So even for those who aren’t pursuing a digitization project for their CHI Fellowship, this blog post may help you in other ways.

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Tos_Ram

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December 26, 2015

Expanding The Xicano Cookbook

December 26, 2015 | By | No Comments

For my CHI project this year, I will be continuing work on my project The Xicano Cookbook, a digital essay documenting Xicano culture in the Great Lakes region. With a special emphasis on food practice, visual art, and oral history, it articulates the ways in which Xicanos have survived and thrived on Anishinaabe land in the midst of ongoing colonialism. The project is guided by decolonial theory and the ingenuity of everyday Indigenous resistance. Thus, it mixes academic theory with the recorded words and artwork of Great Lakes Xicanos to deliver stories about the cultural survival of a de-tribalized, Indigenous people.

Xicano Cookbook Image

I will draw from a bootstrap theme in order to re-conceptualize the framework of my cookbook project. One of problems with my StoryMaps project is that it’s just a bit clunky, so one of my goals is to simplify the design in order to making navigating the site easier for users. The landing page for my website will center the image of the calavera and title of the project, followed by a short description about how the website relates to Chicana/o Studies.

Tabs at the top of the page will be how users are able to navigate through the different “nodes” I have written. I will continue to use SoundCloud to integrate audio clips into the various nodes. A header with the calavera image and title project will be kept at the top of the page as users scroll down on the information, as will the tabs. An “about” section will include brief information about the CHI initiative, Anishinabek culture, and my approach to this project. A works cited tab will also be visible in order to provide a list of scholarship that I draw from, in addition to including links to other related food projects that exist online—for example, to Decolonize Your Diet.

In many ways, this project is being created for a scholarly audience and will contribute to the fields of Chicana/o Studies, Cultural Rhetoric, and Food Studies. At the same time, in making the Xicano Cookbook multi-modal, I think it will also appeal to non-scholarly audiences interested in visual arts and storytelling.The Xicano Cookbook currently displays two oral histories given by Xicano artists from Michigan. These histories give listeners a sense of the issues that Xicanos face culturally and socially and how they use food practices and art to address those issues. Interviews with several more Great Lakes Xicanos are currently archived in an offline repository and will be added to the site over time.

There are currently 6 different works of art displayed and discussed on the website. The project’s primary function is to speak in depth about the works, providing historical and cultural context and theorizing their political functions, as opposed to acting as a full-fledged digital archive or repository for these images. This is why I have chosen to describe the project a more of a digital or multi-modal essay, rather than using one of the aforementioned terms.

Sara Bijani

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December 9, 2015

Archiving Oral Culture

December 9, 2015 | By | No Comments

I’ve been taking my comprehensive exams over the course of this semester, which provides a strange and exhausting opportunity to really step back and think about the state of my field of research, as well as the ways that field has historically been presented to students and scholars from outside of the field. The overlap between reading for these exams and planning a project for the CHI fellowship has provided me with some interesting perspectives on the problems of teaching recent American history, as well as some useful perspective on the potential value of new archival resources in the classroom, particularly around audio and visual content. The traditional print sources that historians favor make up an increasingly small part of the cultural archive available to those of us who study the very recent past, and I’m excited to have this opportunity to try my hand at building a more accessible means of accessing these multilayered sources. Oral histories, in particular, interest me. “True” oral histories—collaboratively constructed narrations of a person’s life history—provide a deeply dimensional and rich resource for historians, provided that they are treated as something more than a flat and flawed transcription of an audio file. Unfortunately, the practical exigencies of real time work with audio files leads most historians to lean heavily on these transcripts. Text files are searchable, making them efficient to catalogue and reference in research. Audio files are unwieldy and extremely difficult to effectively “skim,” making them unpopular with any scholar on a deadline. The “Oral History Metadata Synchronizer” software—primarily developed by Doug Boyd and the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries—offers a potential solution to the practical problems of academic research with oral histories.

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Bernard C. Moore

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December 2, 2015

Digitizing History: The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission Archive

December 2, 2015 | By | One Comment

Digitization and archiving of historical materials is an intensely political process. While technical aspects are still crucial to having a functioning online resource, we must realize that cultural heritage informatics projects are done for specific reasons. I’d like to elaborate on one of my favorite, if still partially flawed digital resources: the SABC Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) website.

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Bernard C. Moore

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October 26, 2015

The Politics of Academic Publishing on/in Africa

October 26, 2015 | By | No Comments

I buy too many books. There, I said it. (admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?). I see it as something of an investment though, and though the books may sit on my shelves for several months before I get around to actually reading them, I do eventually crack open the spine and begin to write all over it with one of my multiple hi-lighters and pens. You don’t want to read a book when I’m done with it.

By and large, the bulk of what I read comes from American and European presses. This is indeed strange because I research African labor history, particularly southern Namibia. Scanning through my shelves this morning, I ratted off a list of presses: Berghahn, Cambridge, Oxford, Chicago, California, Brill, Routledge, Palgrave, Helsinki, NYU, Columbia, UPenn, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin. I then sought out any African-based presses. I have a few from University of Namibia press, UCT Press, Wits, and UKZN Press, as well as a handful from Dar es Salaam.

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Bernard C. Moore

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October 1, 2015

CHI Fellow Introduction: Bernard C. Moore

October 1, 2015 | By | No Comments

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My name is Bernard Moore. I am currently a second-year M.A. student in MSU’s African American & African Studies program. I received a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from Fordham University in New York, and prior to coming to MSU I worked as an assessor for the City of New York’s property valuation division.

Since 2011 I’ve been heavily involved in Namibian Studies, very much on the periphery of African Studies (which itself is on the periphery of academia). In 2012, I completed a number of documentary films on Namibian history which were broadcast for the Namibia Broadcasting Corporation for Heroes’ Day 2014, Black History Month 2015, and for the 2015 Inauguration of President Dr. Hage Geingob. The film From Windhoek to Washington (co-produced with Matthew Ecker) has been screened on a number of occasions in the USA and Namibia. The interviews for the film project were archived at the National Archives of Namibia in Windhoek and the Basler Afrika Bibliographien in Switzerland. I also assisted in the conferral of an honorary doctorate for Namibia’s president, Dr. Hage Geingob, from Fordham University, where I screened a short film on his activism at the United Nations.

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