Caribbean Digital Praxis

Below please find session abstracts followed by discussion questions.

“Let’s Look to the Stars Together: Collaboratively Developing Constellations of Communities of Practice for Caribbean Studies Digital Scholarship”
Laurie N. Taylor (Digital Library of the Caribbean)

One of UF’s hallowed stories tells of when UF sent a librarian on a boat in the 1950s-1960s to the Caribbean to preserve cultural and historical materials using microfilm. Letters from UF’s Presidents show that the travel was essential for the success of the microfilming, and, critically, for communication and community-building with other institutions. Collaborating and community-building in the digital age, UF is a founding partner (2004) and the technical host of the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC), a collaborative, international digital library. dLOC has grown into the largest open access collection of Caribbean materials with over 2 million pages of content, over 40 institutional partners, and over 1 million views each month. Now, dLOC is emphasizing additional activities with digital scholarship, including curated materials and collections, digital humanities exhibits, pedagogical resources, teaching guides, and supporting faculty in developing online research and teaching materials. Digital scholarship represents a transformative historical moment. To understand the needs of partner institutions and Caribbean Studies in collaboration with libraries and the full GLAMs (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums), a librarian is once again on a boat (or a series of planes) for 2016-2017 to visit locations in the Caribbean and host facilitated conversations and interviews to gather and share information and support the community of practice for Caribbean libraries and digital scholarship. New opportunities and possibilities abound, especially following the launch of sx: archipelagos. More work is even more critically needed to connect as constellations of communities of practice to realize these possibilities together.

This presentation will cover two areas:
• Preliminary findings from the research trips and interviews to date
• Methods and process for this research
The interviews will inform opportunities and needs in regards to digital scholarship and Caribbean Studies, and share information on existing projects and activities which may or may not currently identify as digital studies, digital scholarship, digital humanities, and related.

Additionally, findings will inform changes for future research processes. In following standard practices for interviews, support includes IRB review, informed consent, and research protocol materials. However, like so much digital scholarship, participants are collaborators and not research subjects. The research is thus also supported through a project charter. Additional supports and materials will be developed throughout the course of the research, and shared for future research use.

“(De)constructing Boundaries through the Digital Humanities: Collaborative Pedagogy and A Colony in Crisis”
Abby R. Broughton (Vanderbilt University), Kelsey Corlett-Rivera (University of Maryland), Nathan H. Dize (Vanderbilt University)

The digital turn in humanities scholarship has introduced a series of challenges as scholars, archivists, and instructors seek to “catch up” with current academic trends. In a proverbial “arms race,” instructors and librarians are constantly bombarded with new tools and software geared towards increasing the use of technology in classrooms. However, these tools are often presented, especially to instructors, without any specialized tips on how to implement them in a class or how they might be used in meaningful ways that enhance the learning experience. In this presentation, we wish to render visible the various disciplinary and institutional boundaries that became evident through pedagogical collaboration. First, we seek to highlight the ways in which Caribbean digital scholarship inhabits a site of contestation within a periodized departmental frame. Secondly, as PhD students and a librarian, we wish to reflect on the division of labor in collaborative pedagogy and the digital humanities such as we encountered them working in the classroom. Finally, we will touch on divergent perceptions of audience and how best to publicize the final product of our pedagogical collaboration.

“Nou toujou la!: The Digital (After)Life of the Radio Haiti Archive”
Laura Wagner (Duke University)

The Radio Haiti Archive at Duke University houses over 5,000 recordings documenting the on-air life of Haiti’s voice of democracy. Under the leadership of Jean Dominique and Michèle Montas, from the early 1970s until 2003, Radio Haiti not only reported the news and advocated for the rights of the most marginalized and underrepresented Haitian people, it also celebrated Haiti’s culture and history. Radio was a fundamentally democratic medium of unparalleled influence in twentieth-century Haiti: it enabled people to participate in public discourse, as both listeners and speakers, whether or not they could read and write. By the time of Jean Dominique’s assassination in April 2000, Radio Haiti had become both a broadcaster and a custodian of the nation’s memory. The archive of Radio Haiti represents a unique and comprehensive record of late twentieth-century
Haitian political and cultural life.


Questions for Reflection
Laurent Dubois (Duke University)

How has your work on these projects informed or transformed your sense of what “collaboration” means in a scholarly project?

What do you see as the political stakes of the work you are doing in terms of impacting the way in which the Caribbean is represented and imagined?

What do you see as the best practices to assure that Digital Humanities scholarship on the Caribbean is accessible both to scholars and to broader publics in the Caribbean itself?

What have been the biggest challenges and obstacles to pursuing your projects?

If you had all the resources you wanted or needed to pursue these projects, what would they look like at their most extensive & utopian?