The life of Enoch Donaldson has been overshadowed by the larger narrative of his role as Davidson’s faithful servant. Satirized as a prophet, philosopher and as content in his role, Mr. Donaldson deserves the respect that he gave everyday, despite Davidson’s treatment of him during Jim Crow despite being born after freedom. In order to un-wedge him from the college and un-objectify him not as Davidson’s favored service worker, but as a man who had a full life and merely worked for Davidson College,  I  reintroduce a humanist perspective of his life through photo curation. A digital photo journal, featuring juxtaposed pictures and documents, pictures of past and present, and reinvestigation and imagination, allows us to see the pieces of his life outside of the Davidson Bubble, and reposition his narratives visibly. See through the eyes of the other bornafterfreedom.tumblr.com .


Clandinin, D., Debbie Pushor, and Anne Orr. 2007. “Navigating Sites for Narrative Inquiry.” Journal of Teacher Education 58 (1): 21-35.

Fuentes, Marisa J. 2010. “Power and Historical Figuring: Rachael Pringle Polgreen’s Troubled Archive.” Gender & History 22 (3): 564-584.

Jones, Jacqueline. 2009. “Labor and the Idea of Race in the American South.” The Journal of Southern History 75 (3): 613- 626.

Stanczak, Gregory C. 2007. Visual Research Methods: Image, Society, and Representation. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.

Zieger, Robert H. 2012. Life and Labor in the New New South. Working in the Americas; Working in the Americas. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

Catch a body

harry ward

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’ and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.” -Carter G. Woodson

This is the work that seems most important. I was told never let those white people know what you are thinking. But this is the work that seems most important. I was told never let white people build their knowledge off your back. But this is the work that seems most important. I was told never let white people claim your body. But this is the work that seems most important.

Last class was about Narrative in the digital humanities. I didn’t post. I knew I could and didn’t, all I could think about was don’t let these people take your words to abuse Polgreen’s body. Don’t let them ask questions about her body. I did not know her but I choose silence. To protect her. To open myself up was to allow examine of her body and of my mind. I decided not to post. Throughout the entirety of the first semester of class, I was glad to post when I was moved. Second semester surprised me, post for a class, for a date, I felt and continue to feel controlled. It was hard not to confront the narrative, but to confront control.

To connect this to this class and back to Steven Ramsay and Geoffrey Rockwell they wrote, “One recalls, in this context, Marshall McLuhan’s gnomic observation that the “medium is the message”—that the message of any medium or technology is the “change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs””. That is why I find it important to insert my narrative here, at this time, at this place. I have made something. A post. I have made something. Uncomfortable. I have made something. In space. This space is not my body. But I am embodied. In anthropology, embodiment as a paradigm or methodological orientation requires that the body be understood as the existential ground of culture-not as an object that is “good to think,” but as a subject that is “necessary to be.” Medium is the “disembodied” digital. The message “I am a body controlled in the real, and online still subject to control”. My body is mind. My mind is body. My body and mind are in the digital.  What theory comes from this paradox?

What I am saying right now, is this couldn’t be done on paper. This could not be done in person. Lesile point(s) to the fact that we are prompted now to examine more and more of human behavior as we look at internet phenomena and ask ourselves “what is the real life equivalent of that?” As the digital and human interact there is not always an equivalent, sometimes its blurry. That blurring is beautiful, is scholarly, is revealing.

In closing, should you decide to use this information and put me in conversation, realize you are taking from my body, and as such ask you do so respectfully. I am not yet dead, so don’t scavenge.

The Resurrection of the Makers


We may reject the understanding of the world put forth by a humanist using computational methods and even point to the output of those methods as evidence of insufficiency or error; but, if digital humanities is about using computers to provide robust interpretations of the world (however contingent, provisional, and multiple), then it is manifestly not incommensurable with humanistic practice.”

Making and theory can overlap. It seems that contemporary academia in this present moment is afraid of making. Thinkers and scholars that came out of the enlightenment weren’t pulling together theory through data driven research or deep investigation and close readings of text. They created content which we later on quantified as theory. The academic does not create anymore. Scholars exist to collect, synthesize and archive.  I do buy that making and theory can overlap, they should. It prevents scholars and the humanities more specifically from becoming stagnant. Digital humanities offer a new platform for making. General discourse in the academy is that nothing today is wholly original. What is created in the digital realm is original in its complexities and ability to manipulate and recreate ideas as objects in addition to interpretation.

Two digital artifacts that I think do this are HistoryPin and ArtParasites. HistoryPin is a public archive in a way and uses information science and geography as its theoretical framework and challenges ideas of globalization. Users can upload content and be historical actors in their own histories, reorganizing space and their respective narratives. It is simultaneous making something, a new glocal history. Glocal is the theoretical framing that local politics are informed by larger global devices, but are always adapted for the local context. This occurs in the overlap of curation and content on the site. Willie talks about the benefits of non linearity, which in the “digital humanities seems superior in the allowance for user engagement to navigate a set of “sequences” at their discretion”. HistoryPin is very much non-linear, and in making of it this way makes theories which are non linear, not complicated like the academy demands but multiple.

ArtParasites is an artistic journal of sorts out of Berlin. The approach of ArtParasites is that you submit content that speaks to humanistic perspectives necessary for generational and cross cultural exchange. The content on this site is made relative to critical theory. Critical theory is the “picture theory” of language and knowledge rejecting objectivity because intellectuals themselves are not disembodied entities reflecting from outside, knowledge can be obtained only from within a society of interdependent individuals. Hannah Grace wrote “In English, we analyze texts. But texts are data. Narratives, poems, short stories, novels are sources that contain data: metaphors, analogies, authors, page numbers, characters—I could go on”. What Hannah Grace describes as data in english is also theory, the intersection of structural devices to create meaning, and make a thing.

So yes I buy into making overlapping theory.




The best databases are relational. They do not exist in space on there own, but create connections or at the very least space for the creation of connection. This in done both in means of collecting data, thick description, relational data, mode of presentation, and overall permanence of the collection and data. Typically there is room for critique in a lot of digital forms, but honestly I could find very little in  Niso’s Framework of guidance for Building Digital Collections.

In debate, Leslie brought up the point that there is inherently little error in data itself, the error within data comes from humans. Human’s create error in the creation of data, in the collection of data, in its interpretation and in its dissemination. As an anthropology major I am always very critical of data in this regard. When collecting qualitative data, I know my own biases and with a little digging I can always discern biases in others qualitative data because anthropologist have to situate themselves in their work. But collections  often skip and ignore that human entity, it is implicit in its creation.

Alec says “the real danger… comes not when we produce faulty data, but when we position arguments as a product of a computer or an algorithm, that we might absolve ourselves of our responsibility for them”.  Niso’s  framework speaks to the academic/ digital community trying to pre-situate data as a human process. But nevertheless I have to agree with Alec, because although we are framing data, and creating collection in a more responsible fashion. We are still not explicitly stating that it is a human product and project.

The Digital Difference


It’s good to see that my own cynicism is mirrored in the work of my peers. In Alec’s post on the creation and use of the digital, and in particular digital databases, he humorously and aptly states, “I’ll certainly grant McLurcken that more often than not, initial frustrations with technology can be attributed to that universally unpleasant feeling of stepping outside our comfort zones. But occasionally this discomfort has a more substantive root, and may be a sign that we’re trying to jam a square peg into a round hole.”

Alec speaks to a larger question in McLurcken’s article. Yes there is an assumptive quality of digital medium’s being the holy grail of data, but there is also an argument for digital methods being more apt at the task of creatively displaying data. By the end of the article I was left thinking what does the digital do differently? I have a tendency to ask questions and leave them unanswered hoping the reader will infer their own answers. But in this case I will attempt to answer; I am answering in spite of my own bias for creatively reflective, reflexive and fluid presentations.

Digital platforms provide a space for information to exist not only in “public,” but in a way that closes the gap in space and time of the information. In modern anthropology there is an argument that things do not exist in singular space, or simply in contact, but things exist in collaboration, like a series of overlapping circles. This can be done on the digital platform unlike any other, with links, tags, active editing, etc.


This is something we never talk about. Its has never been talked about. Out of respect, but maybe out if fear. We, my family, have a house. Built by my great great grandparents,  a black and white house perched on a hill will a wicked crabapple tree out front, surrounded by trees.  As of now it stands empty. But the house is not what we don’t talk about its what is in the house. There only two bedrooms in the house, it is quite small. The children have always stayed in the same room regardless of which family member takes up residence. Growing up, three  sisters and I shared this bedroom. Two bunkbed’s forced side by side within an arms reach to each other, At night when the lights went out and the old orange lamp light leaked into the bed room there stood “the man in the corner”. An old black man from the looks of him, dirty covered overalls and a black hat, black shoes, but I was never quite sure. You never looked directly at the man in the corner. You knew he was there a calm peaceful presence, sometimes he hummed. If you began to look at him you felt him get angry, you could see the flash of a wicked grin. I would lay at the foot of my bed closer to his corner and just watch him from the corner of my eye. Eventually he would return to the closet we never opened. So I never talked about him, never talked to him, we never talked about him. It wasn’t until recently that we all realized we all had seen him. Four young girls packed in a room and we never spoke about him. It wasn’t until a few months ago when my sister ran away our families half way house, and slept through the night, same orange lamp streaming through the windows, that she briefly mentioned that the man in the corner was still there in the midst of describing the house’s condition. I immediately stopped her and asked what she meant “the man in the corner”. She said “not shit,” “never mind”, it wasn’t worth talking about. But I refused to drop it. Eventually she described the same man. We asked our other sisters, not if they had seen the man in the corner, but if they remembered anything in the house. We all had. Then we asked our dad and he said “oh the man in the corner I haven’t seen him in years,” but what about “the little girl in white.” (Another story for later). And when asking my grandmother, who also slept there, in that room, once upon a time as a girl, she responded, eyes glancing off to the corner before quickly turning back, “I ain’t got no idea what ya’ll are talking about” .


The Graveyard Book Part II


What does it mean to live. In the first part of the Graveyard book, Nobody Owens, image as a young curious child, in a place of perpetual past brought up the question of what it means to be alive. The latter portion of the book answered this question. To be alive means to have the ability to move forward, to change, to do, to be and become. Mistress Owens reveals this in her remembrance of the last few lines of a song she tried to sing to baby Bod when he first arrived to the graveyard.

Face your life

It’s pain, Its pleasure,

Leave no path untaken

Silas is between the world of the living and the dead and although he can move forward, time is not related to a human existence or the dead. He lives, but he does not eat, or dance, or is not even huggable. Michael calls Silas an archive in his post ‘I would argue, the ideal archive through the character, Silas. He is described as knowing “more than the graveyard folk did, for his nightly excursions into the world outside meant that he was able to describe a world that was current, not hundreds of years out of date”’. Description is a capacity of the living but to “live” only to archive and protect is not a true freedom afforded to the living.  The dead may dance and feel, but they do not move forward in time so much as they exist within it. The most interesting image for contrasting what it means to be alive,  is that of the Sleer. The Sleer does none of those things that relate to being  human, and yet they reveal a very human fear or failure about living. Living with purpose, but ceaseless waiting. Bod is anxious about being in the graveyard because he is merely waiting to exercise his purpose. When he confronts the Jacks, he truly comes alive, and with one task complete, he can move forward and through time. He can take another path.

The Graveyard Book

We have asked the same central questions throughout DIG 215. What does it mean to die? What does it mean to be dead? But a better question, that Neil Gaiman reveals in The Graveyard Book is “What does it mean to be alive?”. How do we live? What does it mean to be living? How is that we are alive? What sets us apart from the dead? Nobody Owens, he has nobodies in his early childhood from what I can gleam in the first half of the book, but he still has someones in his life that care for him and teach him. In the graveyard he is the living boy, but with freedom of the graveyard he sometimes seems more dead than alive. He has been imaginary, invisible, and exist outside and in between the realms of the living and the dead.

For all intensive purposes Nobody Owens has been forgotten by the land of the living. In Leslie Francois post he uses the term “dispensability of a life”. In some ways the way Nobody Owens life, how he has been living  since his childhood, is constructed as dispensable. He does not live as a live boy despite being a living boy. It is this complex relationship of his child rearing that makes this story so interesting. Can we say Nobody Owens is alive? Can we say that his “family” are alive?



“Missing Historical Marker Resurrects Debate Over Photographer’s Birthplace”. My honest to God first thought… who the fuck cares. The histories that we create on the basis of research are useful in the stories that they produce and what we can gleam from theses men and women in the past. The minutia of a detail such as birthplace does nothing for the dead, it is for the living. Leigh posits that when studying death we focus on recovery, recovery in terms of memorials, grieving and disasters, but there is also a different type of recovery that occurs. The recovery of information, data and typology of the dead. We recover the deceased lives to recover our own past and rediscover and define and redefine ourselves. This is not to be confused with grieving in the traditional sense which  Falconer described as  “readjusting to the environment and reinvesting in life”. It is an explicit action of the LIVING digging up the histories of DEAD men and women, to find something to rally around, reinforce collective consciousness or to be plain, make ourselves feel better, connected, or worth a damn.

I do note that I have said “we” many times in this argument, but I do this not to be accusatory to those with whom I am in conversation, but as a rhetorical device to problematize the action.  I am black. Why does that matter? I like many of my racial counterparts do not know my history, although just like everyone I have it. I do not know how old my grandparents are, they do not know how old their parents were, they do not know where they were born or where there parents were born. I have the stories that my parents, grandparents, and their parents told, that’s all. And guess what not knowing these “important” facts has revealed? Honestly, nothing. It does not matter. It does not make me any less the me that I am not knowing these individual histories. Hannah Grace brought up in her post “reinvestigation of a deceased individual, more often than not, runs the risk of resulting in a reinvention of this person. That is, the person we find in records and quantitative data might not necessarily be what the person thought of himself or herself.” What are we doing to the dead as we try to recover them? Is it worth it? Is it right?





In both cases, your consciousness persists; there’s just the question of whether it persists in the real world, or a virtual one. shcallway

When given the opportunity, humanity probably won’t be comfortable leaving physicality behind completely. shcallway

I’m not sure whether the digital age has reduced or increased the bystander effect. However, the internet does provide a medium through which the bystander effect is visible. shcallway

Digital memorials are also valuable for their egalitarianism. shcallway

Impulse rather than a thoughtful reaction. shcallway

NOTES:Critically exams what it means to be a physical body in a digital space. Offers a lot of insights about generalized notions of human as humans being. Digital objects are examined for their intrinsic quality and then that quality is measured next to real modes of being.


We cannot make them watch until the end. lechandler

Physical space grabs us and keeps us. lechandler

passive witness lechandler

NOTES:Autonomy and control. Leigh positions us as the controllers and actors on technology and does not treat technology as its own entity, but a an object subject to human will. I really enjoy these post because they subvert the power that technology has over us and treats it as an extension of reality and not a separate reality. Framing into the context of death, we imbue deaths meaning with technology, technology does not imbue meaning to death.


I feel a deep connection haheartfield

It allows us to peer through on a pixelated screen and get close enough to the danger but ultimately shields us from the real terror. Haheartfield

The Internet’s process of public shaming often involves the virtual silencing of the individual—or death in a virtual space haheartfield

The anonymity and freedom that we so privilege and associate with the internet is wonderful until it turns on us; when we are found, discovered, or post injudiciously with our real names attached to it. haheartfield

NOTES:Connection, we are players in our relationships to death, but our created meaning does not need faces in the Digital Realm.


If there are online profiles and sites to memorialize the dead, can those individuals still be considered “alive” if no one opts to visit the online medium and reflect on their lives? miding

NOTES: Participation on the internet constitutes living, death on internet occurs in the forgetting the absence of interaction. That is the end.


how we can walk away from and wash ourselves clean of disturbing things we encounter online because it’s so easy just scroll down, minimize, delete, and forget. I might expand on this by adding that we rely on the internet to shield us from the dangers of not just consuming offensive content, but creating offensive content. alcuster

does a creator have to “consent” to his/her work being labelled as a memorial? alcuster

NOTES: The internet needs us.


Additionally, exchanging D.N.R. for a softer term could be interpreted as “tiptoe[ing] around [talk of death]” and trying to avoid the reality of a situation. But the term does seem to “work” in the sense that a high percentage of those surveyed would consent to an A.N.D. order. witty


human mistakes in a public arena can permeate our private lives. wimacdade

this memory will haunt him forever as it remains in arms reach on his mental bookshelf, continuously silencing him. Wimacdade


It doesn’t seem fair that other people get to judge her on these posts/jokes that will exist on the internet forever. lefrancios


Death is complex and in the digital age, death and its related topics, by general consensus of the nine, produces a society that responds with distance. As death becomes more public, society becomes more obtuse in how we deal with death. In the class on the trauma of 9/11 and media response, Will mentioned in a brief comment, a concern that haunts me every time I enter the class.  And rereading the post I would say it haunts the rest of us. Paraphrased “do humans really have a certain amount of caring to give in the face of death,” are we desensitized to death? Because of it’s more nebulous nature (yes,  death is even more nebulous  now) death has scale, and we must reckon with it .

There is not much a response to death in the digital realm as comforting or new. Death in the real world simply IS. To play off Leigh’s language in post physicality of death grabs us, whilst death in  the digital age asks us to bear passive witness.  What are we concerned about in the face of death and the digital age? Anonymity, hiding behind the screen, connecting and reconnection, collective norming and the production of distance in the digital realm surrounding issues of death.

Taking liberties with Hannah Grace “It (The digital) allows us to peer through on a pixelated screen and get close enough to [INSERT DEATH] but ultimately shields us from the real terror.” As a Hannibal fan I instantly thought of the Doctor saying “I’ve always found the idea of death comforting. The thought that my life could end at any moment frees me to fully appreciate the beauty, and art, and horror of everything this world has to offer,”  in contrast to Hannah Grace and my peers’ popular opinion of death as something terrible. Leigh said it best “we think of the intersection of death and the digital age, we often focus on recovery”. In the beginning of 215 we constructed death as a   privatized process that demanded to be felt and was discomforting in the digital age because there is no finite end. But buy and large we are shifting toward acceptance of death  in the digital age as a different sort of end, and are beginning to appreciate “the beauty, and art, and horror of everything this world has to offer”.