As a CLIR fellow, I am building my interests in digital humanities to complement my research in disaster studies and teaching in anthropology and Africana Studies.
In Spring 2018, I taught “Haitian Culture and Society” at the University of Florida. This course was structured as a digital humanities course; students learned to use digital tools to create a final project that centers on socio-cultural life, human agency, and self-determination in Haiti. Five students from this course will accompany me to the Haitian Studies Association conference to share their projects. To learn more about this course, please visit the “Reflections” tab to read brief posts. I
My pedagogical practice incorporates a social justice framework in order to teach this course as a digital decolonizing project. Thus far, it has been a great experience with learning how to balance the amount of area content to cover and how long to review and teach digital tools that are applicable and accessible to my students. Through digital humanities, the goal is to avoid reifying singular narratives of Haitian people and culture by considering various ways of speaking, writing, and representing Haiti to many audiences. In many ways, scholars fall into the trap of reproducing the idea that suffering has a totalizing effect on Haitian lives in which Haitians are just passive without agency and dignity.
Therefore, through my teaching methodology, I encourage my students to go beyond their current understanding of what they may know of Haiti. Through digital scholarship and a social justice framework, students curate their digital projects to showcase their understanding of Haiti and how that knowledge can be applied to other populations around the world. I believe that learning, conducting research, and presenting findings in digital humanities, data curation, and e-scholarship offers critical engagement to decolonization and social engagement.