Hello HASTAC Scholars and community:
I am a third-year graduate student in Duke University’s History Department where I study the Caribbean and diasporic connections between Afro-North Americans and Afro-Latinos. This year marks my first serious engagement with the Digital Humanities, and I am excited and honored to be a part of the 2013 HASTAC Scholars group.
As a native of Skokie, a northern suburb of Chicago, I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood. Walking down the hallway of my public high school, I would hear languages from all areas of the world. My best friends in high school were second-generation immigrants from India, Egypt, and Mexico. Language, culture, and questions of identity were always at the forefront of my mind. It is this early experience that led me to cherish the study of language and history; it is what helped me understand the importance of communication across cultures and physical space. Now, as a graduate of Yale University (B.A. 2009, Latin American Studies) and a graduate student at Duke University, I want to engage in the Digital Humanities in order to understand how technology both simplifies and complicates questions of communication, language, identity, and the study of history.
Since 2007 my research has focused on the transnational history of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, which was founded in the United States in 1787. My main interest in the church is in its longtime presence on the island of Hispaniola, current-day Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The denomination was established in Hispaniola in 1824 with the arrival of approximately six thousand Afro-North American emigrants from the United States. Today the church continues to exist and connects Dominicans (especially the descendants of emigrants), Haitians, and Afro-North Americans to each other both physically and metaphorically through the concept of Diaspora.
Since last semester (Spring 2012) my research and writing on this topic has specifically turned towards the modern A.M.E. Church in the Dominican Republic. While the A.M.E. Church has worked as an international Afro-religious network since the early 19th century, the contemporary possibilities for networking have advanced rapidly over the past three decades as new technologies have become available in the United States and increasingly in developing countries. Thus, I am interested in studying the ways that digital resources not only influence the creation of Afro-religious networks but also the concept of “diaspora.” In other words, as digital networks have expanded, how have church members’ ideas about religious and racial identity in the Atlantic World changed? This question is particularly interesting when one considers the growth of Evangelical movements across Latin America and the broader networks they offer to members of a small, historically Black church.
I study 19th and 20th century Latin American & Caribbean history. I entered Duke’s History Ph.D. program in 2010 and hope to graduate by May of 2017.
I am currently based in Durham, North Carolina. Still, my heart (and academic interests) is split between three different communities: my family in Chicago, the A.M.E. Church in the Dominican Republic, and most recently Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where I spent this past summer learning Portuguese.
One of the main reasons I applied to be a HASTAC Scholar is because of my desire to understand new ways of communicating and sharing knowledge across fields. The traditional historian spends the bulk of her time in isolation. Research in the archives and writing at home or in the office are activities that require individualized concentration. Yet, all historians have benefitted from critique and the advice of others. How does technology allow us to engage in these types of discussions more often? I hope that my HASTAC experience will provide me with answers to this question not only through blogs about Digital Humanities and its applicability to academic careers, but also in practice. As a HASTAC Scholar, I look forward to engaging in debates about research, race & identity, history and language.