Digitally Retracing the History and the Culture of the Caribbean

Should one of the main concerns of digital humanists in Latin American and Caribbean studies be the curation of a pan-Caribbean cultural establishment or tradition? Does such a thing exist, and if so, how can its canonical media or content be curated? Can the complicated information of the histories, communities, languages, and arts of the Caribbean be contained by any sort of architecture or taxonomy? To what end? Would such a project create stronger connections between the peoples of the Caribbean or highlight the differences been us? Would it support the notion of a shared Caribbean culture, or find that beyond a given point in history the commonalities o between Caribbean entities are reduced to a history of colonization predated by lost pre-Columbian civilizations connected mostly by their geographical proximity?
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Writing and Researching the Translingual

The Caribbean scholarship is in an endless quarrel with both language and history. Even the publishing of an article is haunted with the residues of a colonial past where language has been used to police both movement and thought. Here, the question of translation has opened up a lot of doors to new possibilities but also practical difficulties as well. Put simply, where translations fail, in instances when we might not be able to translate, we realize that in the practice of translating we find vital linkages and connections across this diverse terrain that help us to re-imagine our past and future.

With all that said, how can we take advantage of new digital technologies to generate occasion for people to engage in this practice? Instead of treating translation as a hidden and automatic process, what kind of digital platforms can we create to stage translation as an occasion or an event or something like a workshop? The benefits of something like this are far-reaching not only for those interested in writing and researching the Caribbean, but I also believe it might reconfigure how we approach digital scholarship at large. This is the second question/interest that animates this post on digital translingualism: How and to what extent can Caribbean scholarship not only take advantage of the upsurge of the digital humanities but also how can we move this turn to the digital in new directions?

For a workshop, it might be helpful to focus on the translingualism question by address the various ways the issue of translation inform the work we do in both conceptual and practical ways. From there, I would enjoy exploring the ways digital technologies can not simply “solve” these issues or problems but how these technologies can help up approach the issue of translation in new ways.



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General Schedule and Locations

Here’s a general schedule of when and where you need to be:

Monday, November 12: UPRM Chardón building, rooms 324, 325, 326.

  • 1:00 – 4:30 pm : Workshops

Tuesday, November 13: General Library, 3rd floor, Salas A, B, & C

  • 8:30-9:00 am : Registration
  • 9:00-12:00 pm: THATCamp — SESSION PROPOSALS
  • 12:00 – 1:00 pm: Lunch at Student Union 2nd floor Cafeteria and Salón Tarzán
  • 1:00 – 5:00 pm: THATCamp
  • 6:00 pm: Dinner at Restaurant Siglo XX (downtown)

Wednesday, November 14: General Library, 3rd floor, Salas A, B, & C

  • 8:30-9:00 : Registration
  • 9:00-12:00 : THATCamp
  • 12:00 – 1:00 pm: Lunch at Student Union 2nd floor Cafeteria and Salón Tarzán

Thursday, November 15: Location TBA

  • 9:00 am : Free shuttle to San Juan
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Google Map for THATCamp Caribe

View THATCamp Caribe 2012 in a larger map.

All the locations you’ll need and more are available in this map. So plug it into your favorite smartphone or print it out and get to exploring Mayagüez.

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Session proposal: Teaching race and colonialism with digital humanities

I’d love to help create a session around the role of the digital humanities in scholarship & teaching about race and colonialism (and gender, sexuality, and indigeneity, among other things). How might new technologies help or hinder teaching about violent, complicated histories & presents? I’m asking this as an Ethnic Studies scholar and teacher who has encountered a number of challenges specific to teaching and sharing research about issues that can be contentious and uncomfortable for a variety of reasons, whether I’m teaching undergraduates, researching or collaborating with colleagues.

There are a number of issues we might be able to help each other think through. For one, how we might think about using visual media/tech in teaching and scholarship? Digital media can be very effective in allowing you to use and interact with images, for example. But at times visually portraying issues of race and colonialism might further victimizing a community. Or there might simply not be any easy visualization of your point. After all, what kind of clip art or symbols can you use to illustrate racism and colonialism? What are effective uses of blank space or non-visual media, instead? In teaching, I’ve tried out a few different things with Prezi, using features like zooming to highlight what photos don’t show or to link opposing representations. I’d love to hear what others might do regarding images and digital media.

Another thing we might address are how to handle racist, public comments on academic blogs/social media you author, as well as on blogs/media you ask your students to create. I’d love to have my classes use Twitter and blogs but I feel I’ll need to provide extra support regarding the kinds of responses they might receive, as I will be asking them to write about issues that are often threatening to the mainstream. Are there resources out there that might address how to give this support? Can we work to make such a resource at THATCamp?

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Do Digital Critics Dream of Electric Texts? (- or – Genres, Media, Culture, & Technology, Respectively)

“How can it not know what it is?”
, the protagonist of the film Blade Runner, after interviewing an android that did not know it was an android and therefore behaved as if she were a human being.

With this in mind, I would like to propose a discussion of what happens to established literary or otherwise artistic genres (including painting, music, etc.) when confronted by “emerging” media and technology.  I see this discussion perhaps starting off from Marshall’s McLuhan’s monolithic proclamation in 1964 that “the medium is the message” and discussing the role of diverse forms of media in society, then fast-forwarding through almost 50 years of cultural production and technological development – so we can ask, “well, where are we now?”.  Are these cultural artifacts as “new” they are touted to be? Are they speech, discourses, or genres? Are they the wellspring of a new cultural current, or the latest addition to an ever-evolving continuum? The discussion is well under way when we think about literary adaptations in film, for example, but what about video games, mashups, and other digital texts? Other questions that come to mind would be:

  • Would that which we call a tweet by any other name have 140 characters?
  • If Art and Life imitate one another, what does SecondLife imitate?
  • If José Martí were alive today, would he have a blog?
  • Could citizen journalism and social media have saved the Tainos? Can it help the Caribe now?
  • Where in the Caribbean is Puerto Rico? See Google Maps: 1898 Edition.

Satire and speculation aside, I see this session as a provocative discussion not only of how technology and new media can/will/may/won’t change scholarship in the humanities (and particularly within the Caribbean), but also of what this all means for or can contribute to the whole Caribbean as a Culture  (if such a thing exists – if not, we can always start its Wikipedia page).



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My research focuses on an organization that coordinates different social movements throughout Haiti. I would like to map out the surface covered by this organization’s work.



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Easy Technologies for the Language Classroom

Implementing technology in the classroom can be an exciting and daunting prospect at the same time.  Still, with a little ingenuity and without too much complication, technology can help motivate and engage learners and allow for instruction that reaches beyond the boundaries of the classroom. As an ESL teacher and instructional designer, I’d like to have a general discussion on this subject, especially considering the “peculiar” role of English in Puerto Rican education and society. I would like to share suggestions for using free or inexpensive and widely-used technologies in the second or foreign language classroom, including academic writing and professional communications; but I would also like others to bring their ideas and experiences as well. It would also be interesting to discuss whatever insights or concerns participants may have regarding the role of technology in language, media, and/or literacy education as well as how these benefit from or otherwise relate to the Digital Humanities agenda.


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Last Stretch

Our trip to Puerto Rico is finally around the corner! The THATCampCaribe team is very excited to meet all of you. We’re happy to tell you that about 66 people have already signed up and more are adding themselves from Puerto Rico as we speak.
As we approach the date we wanted to give you some last minute info.
Session Proposals
This is the perfect time to contribute to our blog any ideas or propose a session. The more people contribute, the easier it will be for us to set up our breakout sessions on Tuesday morning. To suggest a session or topic you are interested in please log into the THATCampCaribe blog using the username and password that you should have received in a separate message when your application was accepted. Don’t be shy!
Did you buy your airline tickets? This is the time to do so. Remember to visit our travel page for some tips and detailed information. Those arriving in San Juan on Sunday or Monday will be happy to know we are arranging buses for you. We do need to know who you are so we can arrange the buses! Please fill out this Google form. The amount of folks who sign up for the bus service will determine how many buses we hire.
Travel Aid
We have worked really hard to get travel subsidies for some folks. We couldn’t get funding for everyone who signed up, but we’re happy to say we will be helping out some (graduate students received priority). We will continue trying to raise money right up until the event, so stay tuned. All extra funds we receive from now on are being used to help more people come. Those of you who can afford a donation, make sure to check out our donation page.
If for some reason you can’t make it, please send me a line so that I can take you off the list. Knowing the exact amount of people who will be present will help us organize the event better on the ground. A quick line should do.
Our list of workshops for Monday has expanded. Make sure you take a look at the new list. Veterans are welcome offer workshops instead of sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send me a line!
See you campers soon!
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THATCampCaribe Sets Sail: Registration Open!

We are happy to announce that registration is now open for THATCampCaribe. Slots fill up fast, so sign up today!

WHEN: THATCampCaribe will run from Monday, November 12-Wednesday, November 14.

WHERE:University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez.

THATCampCaribe is an unconference. There are no papers, no pre-conceived panels, no keynote speaker. The goal of THATCamp Caribe 2012 is to bring together digital humanists with scholars, librarians, artists, technologists and tinkerers to imagine the future of digital humanities in the Caribbean broadly-understood. The first day will consist of a bootcamp (workshops), where you can pick up digital skills. The actual conference takes place Tuesday and Wednesday.

THATCampCaribe was designed to coincide with the American Studies Association’s (ASA) annual meeting, which takes place in San Juan from Nov. 15-18. This makes it easy for ASA conference attendees to participate in THATCampCaribe. We will arrange for buses to transfer participants to and from both locations. We have also partnered with the ASA and the Caribbean Studies Association, among many others. For a listing of our partners, click here.

Questions? Email us:

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