Hello! My name is Andra Durham and I am a graduate fellow in the 2020-2021 iteration of the Cultural Heritage Informatics (CHI) fellowship. I am a second year PhD student in the Department of Anthropology. I earned my B.A. in anthropology and classics from Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan in 2019 after taking a nine year break from school. My academic focus is in medical anthropology and I am currently interested in the broad experiences and uses of digital health technologies and their influences on patient health behaviors, identity formation and digital embodiment, and the practice of clinical medicine in the United States. My intended dissertation research will explore how patients with chronic kidney disease utilize self-tracking devices and online social support groups to manage their conditions and seek medical information. The digital landscape offers an alternate social field that cultivates a habitus of self-health, fluidly adaptive and reflexive, and supported by neoliberal ideals through advertising and consumer product development for the extensive healthcare market. Because of this I am additionally interested in how self-health behaviors affect the structure of clinical authority in the context of the doctor-patient relationship.

My interest in CHI stems from two of its main tenets: application and openness. Broadly speaking, digital literacy and competency are important skillsets in an increasingly digitally mediated age, as the vast online world has become the space in which we interact socially and intellectually, connect, and share knowledge. One reason I am here is to learn the necessary skills to become competently engaged in digital mediums. Another reason is the fellowship’s commitment to public communication and open access resources, which I think are increasingly important platforms for engaging broader audiences outside of academia. My goal throughout this fellowship is to establish a working foundation of digital literacy and practical skills to carry into my work and build upon in the future. Although still only a thought, I am looking forward to sharing the development of my fellowship project over the course of the academic year.

To say a bit more about myself personally, I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio and moved to Michigan seven years ago with my partner. In addition to my academic interests I am also a violinist and have played for the better part of 26 years (I practice much less now, as you might imagine). I also have a love for choral music and Gregorian chant and one of my favorite sounds is the human voice in song.