Tim Powell

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Tim Powell directs EPIC (Educational Partnerships with Indigenous Communities) at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been working on DH projects with Indigenous communities for the last 17 years, directing more than $2 million in grants focused on digitally repatriating archival documents to the communities of origin, or what the elders would call "bringing the stories back home." Tim studies the amazing things that happen when authorized community members enliven the stories and then integrate them back into traditional knowledge systems. As a DH scholar, Tim studies how traditional Indigenous knowledge systems resist "standard" metadata schema and reveal the cultural limitations of existing DH tools (e.g., chronological timelines). He is working closely with community-based DH scholars (e.g., tribal historians and elders) to design Scalar exhibits that illustrate how traditional knowledge systems take DH in exciting new directions.

Full Bio: 

Dr. Timothy B. Powell is the director of EPIC (Educational Partnerships with Indigenous Communities), housed in the Penn Language Center at the University of Pennsylvania.  He is a faculty member of the Religious Studies department at Penn and a Consulting Scholar at the Penn Museum.  He serves on the advisory board of the Price Lab for the Digital Humanities, Penn’s Program in Environmental Humanities, and the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies initiative. 

His expertise is in the digital repatriation of archival materials to the Indigenous communities where these songs and stories originated to enliven language and cultural revitalization.  He founded of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research (CNAIR) at the American Philosophical Society, where he oversaw the digitization of 3000+ hours of the Native American audio collection and digitally repatriated materials to more than 150+ Indigenous communities across North America (2008-2016).  He maintains the title of Consulting Scholar at the APS.  He also sits on the advisory board for the Archive of Traditional Music at Indiana University, which is in the process of digitizing its entire Native American audio collection. Over the last ten years, Tim has successfully applied for and directed more than $2 million in grants to support digital repatriation in Indian Country.

Powell is the author of Native American Oral Literatures (Oxford UP, 2012) and Ruthless Democracy: A Multicultural Interpretation of the American Renaissance (Princeton UP, 2000).  More recently, he authored “Digital Knowledge Sharing: Forging Partnerships between Scholars, Archives, and Indigenous Communities” in Museum Anthropology Review 10(2), 2016, and “’The Songs are Alive’: Bringing Frances Densmore’s Recordings back Home to Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College” (forthcoming in Oxford Handbook of Musical Repatriation).  He curates two digital archives, Gibagadinamaagoom (Ojibwe: 'To Bring to Life, to Sanction, to Give Permission') and Digital Partnerships with Indian Communities (DPIC), both of which were created with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and are maintained by the University of Pennsylvania.  He is currently designing the EPIC digital archive, which will feature videos and audio clips of Indigenous elders talking about traditional knowledge systems


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