Seminar Basics

The GSA is here! This post contains all the basic information sent to participants via email. Note: All posts related to preparation are available at http://gsadh.clevelandhistory.org/category/seminar-info/.

  1. Frame your 10-minute presentation around the questions for your category: Research, Teaching, or Methods. Please be considerate and do not exceed the established time limit. There will be plenty of time for discussion of each project and Q & A.
  2. Prepare the feedback questions on the other presentations in your category to share with your peers. Methods presenters should choose one or two projects in another category to provide feedback as well. This feedback can be delivered in hard copy, as comments on this site, or orally during Q & A.
  3. We ask that you review the MLA and AHA guidelines for evaluation of digital scholarship and the Young Researchers in Digital Humanities Manifesto.
  4. We will meet at the Terrace Cafe at Town & Country (Map: https://www.destinationhotels.com/town-country/resort-map) for drinks on Thursday evening. Happy hour starts at 4 and at least one of the conveners will be present starting around 4:30 /5 pm. Join us for as long or as little as you like!
  5. The schedule for presentations are posted under each category. Generally, the categories are divided as follows: Friday- Research, Saturday- Teaching, Sunday- Methods.
  6. Please feel free to contact me (shelley.rose@csuohio.edu) or Jared (jared.donnelly12@gmail.com) with any questions as you prepare!

 

Black German History and Digital Humanities: blackcentraleurope.com

In May 2015, Afro-Italian activist Vittorio Longhi published a piece in the New York Times called “On Being African in Europe.” In the editorial, he argues that one of the greatest hurdles that Black European communities consistently confront is the problem of denial. For many white Europeans, the fact that Europeans of African descent exist at all is a contradiction, an ahistorical paradox that runs counter to their presumptions of the nation and who belongs to it. They dismiss, in other words, the presence of Afro-Germans in contemporary German spaces or the long history of Black French communities as outliers and outsiders to Europe. “In the United States,” Longhi writes, “there has been a comprehensive cultural construction of African-American identity, and a movement that responds when there is injustice or violence. We Euro-Africans still lack our own positive, inspiring symbols and leaders, our Martin Luther Kings, our Rosa Parkses, our Barack Obamas.”

Longhi’s references to pinnacle figures of African American history raise a simple but crucial question: Whither Black European history? Where are the iconic Black historical figures of Europe to challenge contemporary European myths of homogeneity, diaspora, and belonging? Although there are currently more than eight million people of African descent living in Europe (as far as scholars can surmise since most European states refuse to track their populations according to race), Black Europeans lack constructed narratives of their own pasts that are vital for community building. Their histories and their communities are rendered invisible. Moreover, there are few if any institutions, centers, or hubs dedicated to locating and discussing Black European history and studies. Black European histories, like the experiences of Black Europeans themselves, are stories of fragmentation, isolation, and marginalization.

My colleagues at the University of New Mexico, University College London, University of Missouri, Oberlin College, and I formed a collaborative in 2014 to advance the study and history of the Black diaspora to Central Europe. We sees to integrate Black history into Central European historiographies on nationalism, cultural formation, and race to illustrate that people of African descent have always been part of Central European history, and, thus, have always been European. In doing so, our program counters the popular notion that people of African descent are a new phenomenon in Europe – and thus are historical outsiders – and instead highlights the many different cultural forms of identity-making that were available to Germans and Austrians of all backgrounds in modern history.

Our dedication for educating the public about Central Europe’s own Black pasts has led to the creation of a website, Black Central Europe. Our website is a repository for primary sources in English and in German on the history of Black people in Central Europe. Modeled after other public history sites such as German History in Documents and Images and Interracial Intimacies our website offers links to other relevant digital humanities projects such as Swag Diplomacy or Mapping Ira Aldridge. We also share links to contemporary Afro-German social media sites and anti-racist organizations such as the Antonio Amadeu Stiftung, Initiativ Schwarze Deutsche (ISD), and Krause Locke. We also post Afro-German web series such as Schwarz Rot Gold or Polyglot on our website for the public to watch.

Being teachers ourselves, we offer pedagogical resources on our website as well so that teachers at the high school and college levels may better integrate Black German history into their course offerings. We post teaching modules on our site and share primary sources in English and in German for students to use.

Why I joined the GSA Seminar:
There are two reasons why I wanted to join the GSA’s seminar on digital humanities: one, to get feedback on our website and to discuss with people with more experience than I have how to organize and present large swaths of data – texts, images, videos, etc. Second, I have a project I undertook with my students in the spring of 2016 called “Mapping Black Germany” that I’d like to get feedback on as well.

Part I: Blackcentraleurope.com
BlackCentralEurope screenshot
Modeled in part on GHDI, we offer documents, images, and videos for teachers and students to use in their courses on European history. The project is not “live” quiet yet, but we hope to launch it by the end of August. My main questions are pretty simple and somewhat naive but nonetheless perplexing to us organizers of blackcentraleurope.com:
1. How does one organize a large body of primary sources from approximately 1000 AD to the present?
2. How does one present that material to the public in an accessible enough fashion?

Part II: Mapping Black Germany
Using CartoDB, my students in my “Germany and the Black Diaspora” class created a map to highlight where Black figures, communities, and organizations have resided in Germany since the medieval era.

mappingpage1_demo MappingImage1_GeorgeBridgetower
MappingImage3_AnneChebu

The purpose of this project was for students to see how much Germany has participated in global developments concerning the Black Diaspora since the medieval era. They created pins pointing to St. Gereon Cathedral in Cologne, which currently houses the relics of Gregorius Maurus, a 14th century Black mystic who gained a following after the Archbishop of Cologne discovered that Maurus regularly had religious visions, for example, and dedicated pins to contemporary Afro-German writers as well.

It became apparent to my students really quickly that mapping makes the invisible visible. We had many conversations on the political and historical meaning of rendering minorities visible in spaces that have erased their history. Using the map that we created, we asked questions about what it means that our digital map of Blackness does not correspond to the mental maps of most people who study European history. In short, students will see more clearly that the politics of what gets on the map is contingent upon who is making it.

Future Directions and Questions:
1. What do I do with this map for the long term? How do I maintain it and grow it?
This map will be a permanent feature of Black Central Europe. I plan to teach my “Germany and the Black Diaspora” class every winter semester and involve students every time in building onto and shaping the map. Because this is a long-term project, I hope that each time I incorporate the map into my class, we will be able to ask different questions about map-making and Black identities in Central Europe. Over time, as more information appears on the map, I hope to be able to manipulate the data to look for patterns and flows of migration. Moreover, because this map is a permanent fixture on the Black Central Europe website, I wish to know how to use this map as a service to the public. I envision the map functioning as a public history project hosted by the University of Michigan.
2. What is the relationship between geo-spatial technologies and minority history?
Is this the right tool for me to use to display the diverse and rich history of Black lives in Central European spaces? Can geo-spatial technologies help historians iterate the complex phenomenon of historical identity construction – or do they flatten those identities? What do I stand to gain and what do I stand to lose by placing the fourteenth century religious figure Saint Maurice and twentieth century Afro-German poet May Ayim in the same geographical space?

Feedback

Each participant will use these guiding questions to provide feedback for each project in their category: Research, Teaching, or Methods.

  1. How does this project contribute to teaching, learning, research?
  2. Does it create or reframe knowledge and/or help develop skills?
  3. Does is provide new ways of viewing/studying sources?
  4. How can the project contribute to inclusivity in our classrooms? (in terms of document/source diversity and/or accessibility?)
  5. How might this model/method be transferred or applied in other disciplines?
  6. Does the project allow for interdisciplinary/inter-institutional work/collaboration?
  7. Is it sufficiently rigorous in respect to the intellectual aims of the project and in what ways might the project be improved?

Presentation Questions: Methods

Each seminar participant will give a short, 10-minute presentation on his or her project at the GSA (schedule TBA). The conveners have divided projects into three categories: Research, Teaching, and Methods.  Each group will have a specific set of questions to address.

Questions for projects that focus primarily on methodology:

  1. What were your goals and how did the DH tools help you achieve them?
  2. How can others employ this method?
  3. What are two challenges of this method?
  4. What is the future of the method/project?
  5. One big question for the group that you want answered.

Presentation Questions: Teaching

Each seminar participant will give a short, 10-minute presentation on his or her project at the GSA (schedule TBA). The conveners have divided projects into three categories: Research, Teaching, and Methods.  Each group will have a specific set of questions to address.

Questions for projects that focus primarily on teaching:

  1. What were your goals and how did the DH tools help you achieve them?
  2. What is the main impact of the project in your classroom and on student learning?
  3. What are two challenges of teaching with DH?
  4. What is the future of this project?
  5. One big question for the group that you want answered.

Presentation Questions: Research

Each seminar participant will give a short, 10-minute presentation on his or her project at the GSA (schedule TBA). The conveners have divided projects into three categories: Research, Teaching, and Methods.  Each group will have a specific set of questions to address.

Questions for projects that focus primarily on research:

  1. What were your goals and how did the DH tools help you achieve them?
  2. Who is the primary audience?
  3. What are two challenges?
  4. What is the project’s future?
  5. One big question for the group that you want answered.