Potential Topics for NEH Digital Project Proposal

October 28, 2019 admin 0 Comments

For the first potential topic for an NEH Digital Projects for the Public Proposal, I am thinking of proposing a digital interactive map of my Master’s Thesis “Buried Histories: A Feminist View of Land, Space, and U.S. Universities,” which its’ content can be viewed if you click here for my first digital humanities project. Specifically in my thesis, I argued that viewing land and a case study at the University of Georgia (inspired by the recent discovery of a slave graveyard on campus) from a feminist perspective (viewing non-dominant and intersectional people and histories) called for studying the history of not only slavery at UGA but also indigenous history, settler colonialism, and whiteness. I initially envisioned my Master’s Thesis as ideally a digital map, but that idea slowly went away when I was encouraged to do a traditional thesis. However, now the NEH Digital Project Proposal could help me realize my initial vision of this project, which would be an interactive or dynamic map of Athens, Georgia (or maybe all of the state of Georgia) that shows the initial residences of indigenous tribes in the area, the movement of white settlers (and thereby the removal of indigenous people), the migration of enslaved people, and the growing population thereafter. It would also be really interesting to map the current poverty and employment rates in Athens and at the University by wage and race as well – and maybe even map where the current Confederate memorials and Native American landmarks are around campus and the area of Athens. I believe this topic could help visualize my thesis more, and if not achieve the original/more theoretical argument that we need a feminist lens in viewing these complex landscapes and histories, then at least prove a smaller claim that there were intersecting racial diversity and interactions in the state of Georgia/city of Athens/University of Georgia.

Topic number two is inspired by my thesis but takes a more national approach. I would propose a digital archive or platform that could collect people’s memories, assumptions, and ideas about race in the U.S. The first layered purpose would be to document people’s reactions to current (arguably) racist or discriminatory policies enacted by the state or just of possible racist/racial interactions people have had with other people (thinking of the rise of white nationalism post-2016 election or just how speaking from experience of people I’ve met, some white, upperclass men in the U.S. have a sense of being forgotten or overly criticized). This would maybe be prompted by a general question about race and the U.S./their experience, followed by a second more pointed question about their thoughts about race/racism in the U.S. with different non-white races and then specifically their thoughts on the intersecting history of slavery, settler colonialism, and whiteness (if they think there was any). These more pointed and specific questions would help achieve my second layered purpose, which is answering the research question of if the public has any memory of racially diverse histories or the ways that different people suffered different racial discrimination. If most people did not make the connection between these intersections (for example not connecting that in some parts of the early U.S., enslaved people overlapped with indigenous people), then it would build a case for more intersectional approaches to history. Though not as fully formed as my first topic, it still very much is inspired my Master’s Thesis and could even serve as a fruitful template for future research, possibly for my dissertation.

My third topic is not as fully formed as the other two, and would be something revolving around women’s history, re-humanizing women, and resisting the common Great Man theme in traditional historical work. I would propose a digital exhibit for a museum, one that viewed the interactions or different moments between women of different race, class, or sexuality. I realize this is very broad, but I do not know yet of a potential place, time, or event to situate these different sorts of women around, and would have to do more research to figure what would be the centerpiece that would bring in the history of different women. I do think a digital exhibit or website/archive like this could be helpful in promoting conversations about different identities, intersectionality, and different forms of complicity and resistance within systems of power. Especially in the midst of the #MeToo era, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and certain new state restrictions on abortion and reproductive rights, an exhibit about the history of the quest of female empowerment sidelined by other issues of race, class, and state power could be really interesting. Again, this one is not as fully formed, but with a little more research, it could also have some potential and be helpful for potentially my dissertation.

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