Notes from Decolonizing Environmental + Digital Humanities Panel

THATCamp at University of Cincinnati 2015

Panel: Decolonizing Environmental + Digital Humanities
(Alternate title on schedule: Decolonizing Environmental and Digital Technology)

Panel Chair: Vinamarata “Winnie” Kaur

Panel Collaborators and Attendees: Vinamarata “Winnie” Kaur, Elizabeth Meyer, David Sandor, Michele Vialet, Pam Bach, Amy Koshoffer, Arlene Johnson, Garrett Cummins, Karen Cudjoe, Eira Tansey

Primary Notetaker: Eira Tansey

Winnie kicked off our session with framing her interests as a scholar in environmental theory, feminist theory, and DH. Uses intersectionality theory and how disciplines are related to each other. For example, the intersection of environmental humanities and digital humanities: viewing it through a feminist lens.

Winnie: Digital data by its nature is meant to be more eco-sustainable. Some issues of possible interest:
Intersections of EH + DH (+feminism+ecoability+intersectionality)
Issues related to politics and ethics of access to digitized “environmental” data
How can we avoid biopolitical racism, classism, and sexism of media so as to avoid the digital binary?
Creation of a digital subalternity and minority voices
Status of “things,” property personhood, differences between human machine, animal
Role of media in fostering an awareness about environmental issues

Eira: Technology is often very exploitative and resource-intensive. Big data is monetizable and that contributes to heavy resource use.

Winnie: How do we ensure newer forms of technology are not exploitative?

Pam: Big data — Little data is often very important [[NYTimes article]]

Winnie: Shifting notions of personhood — what does it mean if Google does not allow you to control your own data? Intersections of human rights and environmental humanities

Garrett: Nietzsche’s idea of 3 different types of historians — antiquarian, monumental, critical

Eira: Discussed the concept of archival appraisal and how it’s antithetical to the idea of saving everything

Garrett: How does digital decay affect the sustainability of the human record?

David: The web enables people to tell their stories who may not have been able to tell their stories before. There are now so many more potential stories, but is that potential realized as effectively as it could be? New Republic article about the Oglala aquifer — who tells that story besides the person who wrote the magazine article? And this is in this country, but it’s in slow motion

Winnie: Digital divide — internet access and creation is not universal. Most of the information on the internet, however, is often in the language of the colonizer. How do we assess cost, right to education, accessibility? How do we not recreate an Eastern vs Western binary? Global South is providing a lot of the digital labor but does not necessarily benefit from the wealth of information accessible in the Global North

Also, how are property rights privileged over human rights? #BaltimoreUprising How does preserving the status of things manifest itself in digital culture? Changing representations of intersectional identities. How do we represent interactions with the environment? Naturecultures: technologies, nature/environment, social, and lived realities.

Arlene: Alex Gill’s “Around the World with DH in 80 days” — focuses on lower-level technology DH in other countries + Alex Gil is a leader in the GO::DH organization I recommend this site and to follow on Twitter. Alex’s sessions at UC Libraries brought the term “minimal computing” to light.

Winnie: Digital divide and access to information in public vs private sectors

David: Expanded on Oglala aquifer issue — windborne metal particles and downstream health effects

Winnie: Environmental justice and people of color’s role in food politics and supply chains. Intersectionality and anthropocenic privilege.

Eira: the slow-motion nature of climate change and related environmental issues makes it difficult to get people to take things seriously

Amy: People think in short-terms. A documentary on wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone showed the downstream effects of how it changed water systems.

Winnie: False use of media — for example, cruelty-free products that might protect animals but have child labor.

Garrett: Slow reporting — is fast reporting antithetical to long-term analysis? Is the strength of digital humanities in this realm the ability to do the slower arguments and discerning effects?

Winnie: The impulsivity enabled by social media is often necessary to immediately bring attention to injustice

Garrett and Winnie: How does Global South get included in the digital conversations they are often shut out of?

Winnie: How do we decolonize our disciplines, minds, bodies, and practices?

Eira: Talked about issues of exploitative journal vendors and how we need faculty buy-in to OA

Pam: Things like disruptive technologies like BitCoin in Argentina have the potential for equalization +

Garrett: Textbooks can be limiting, used example of Putting things on Blackboard makes them invisible to larger communities

Arlene: A lot of this is determined by RPT. Used example of David Trowbridge’s work — how do we open our work up to beyond a few publications?

Michele: Focusing on content and not digital vanity

Karen: Are ebooks more sustainable?

Michele: Books are more environmentally friendly and have proved that they can survive for centuries without costly technological updates. When they decay they return to dust. Digital media have a lot of hidden costs in comparison.

Winnie: That’s an open-ended debate. Technology can help make things more accessible (eco-ability). Internet as a “religion”: a space for virtual congregation. Internet elitism.

Garrett: Disrupting gospel of English Department by moving away from textbooks

Winnie: Other things collectively discussed in our group and for future consideration: lower-level computing, digital vanity, Ecology, Economy, Equity book (thanks Eira for the suggestion), library databases as injustice (open access), disruptive technologies.

Notes from Climate Change for the Rest of Us Panel

THATCamp at University of Cincinnati 2015

Panel: Climate Change for the Rest of Us

Panel Chair: Eira Tansey

Panel Collaborators and Attendees: Carolyn Hansen, Eira Tansey, Karen Cudjoe, James Van Mil, Amy Koshoffer, Sean Crowe, Pam Bach, Vinamarata “Winnie” Kaur

Primary Notetaker: Vinamarata “Winnie” Kaur

Carolyn: MoMa’s most visited and highest rated exhibit, “Rising Currents,” recently was on climate change; recent events like earthquakes in Nepal; Nepal situation similar to Louisiana situation about blaming it on homosexuality (homophobia intersects with climate change); individual actions aren’t necessary political; organic food and local food is more expensive. EBT programs. Restrictions.

Eira: Impact of climate change on librarians [and humanists] but also people who don’t have background in science; relationship with communities; intersections of people and environment; [an aspect of] environmental justice deals with not making marginalized communities suffer more; IPCC.OH website; adaptation to climate change; How bad is it going to be? Shift in political language of climate change; everyone alive is affected by climate change; why don’t we have a discussion about this? Why aren’t libraries talking about it? Carbon-neutral library (Mandy Hank): Ecology, Economy, Equity; Australian archivist studying Pacific Island nation archives; concerns about geographical relocation because of rising sea levels (audio clip on Australia Plus); potentials about what we could be doing to help; national landmarks at risk; how museums represent the topic of climate change (museum endowment dependent on fossil fuels); dealing with controversies; Cleveland as next NYC and Cincinnati as next DC; David from Winnie’s decolonizing EH+DH session brought up the slow motion process, which related to why people don’t often bring up climate change in wake of natural disasters; disaster management and Higher Education Climate Adaptation Committee; how cultural heritage institutions reconsider how disaster management looks like? Klein’s This Changes Everything book (capitalism is a religion and incompatible with real mitigation of climate change). What expectations should be on countries like China and India when they believe they have their own issues to deal with as well? Libraries are almost always part of a larger organization. National Climate Assessment. How is agriculture going to change? Warmer-weather crops growing in the midwest over time? California drought. Human migration patterns because of climate change; people are still moving from, example, England to South Florida. There isn’t much literature out there for how to engage librarians in climate change. Planning for future? Take joy in little things related to nature like hiking, being outside, seeing birds; gardening; locally-grown food. Why should people care? People care for something they love rather than going for something they’re told not to do. Let’s subsidize kale and spinach! Personal stories of Cincinnati, NOLA, and Michigan.

Karen: Projections about Ohio’s disasters? Recycling is important. Personal family story. How do we get people, especially our own families and communities, to recycle and make change? Plants; urban gardening; cancer. How to consult with the right people?

James: Portico for preservation and access purposes. Easier to pre-coordinate logistics. Detroit problem. Mick and Mack politics with Faculty Club, Cincinnati State, UC, etc. Economies of scale; corn subsidies; it’s all about the politics. Even not eating meat for a day can do a lot than other activities combined.

Amy: How much impact does individual change make? Awareness? Education?

Sean: We know about libraries, archives, and climate change. How about museums and climate change? Start conversations to engage libraries.

Pam: Could unsustainable food choices on UC’s campus be because of contract with Aramark?

Winnie: Some Nepal earthquake’s social media forum debates were shocking to the extent that they were blaming superstitions and unsustainable practices of ritual killing and polluting water bodies and were thus reigniting racism and classism, taking approach of victim-blaming, when the period of mourning should be to build solidarity, re-establish communities, and not blame people although human intervention, anthropocenic privileges, and resulting climatic changes must be dealt it as well (racism and speciesism intersecting with climate change). Cincinnati 100% renewable electricity credits (Seelbach); UC Bike Path; unsustainable food options on our university despite demands from students for healthier options; hardly any locally-grown, vegan options in dining halls or establishments at UC; we still have Chick-fil-A despite the petitions to remove it from the university (junk foods, promotes homophobia, and speciesism); UC’s climate action plan; City’s green fleet plan; recycling trash cans and bottle water fountains aren’t up to par with other universities; UC’s partnership with Cincinnati Metro to provide discounts to students for using public transport; bike rental on and around campus, REDBike program. What about Mick and Mack on campus? Water fountains on our campus don’t have refilling bottle designs (many water fountains, especially in McMicken Hall, hardly even work); in our classrooms, we have a “regular” garbage can rather recycling cans (in comparison to other university campuses like UMD, for example). “Meatless Mondays” initiatives by some companies. Convenience meals; animal agriculture impact; greenhouse emissions; corporations talk about taking shorter showers but not about reducing meat and dairy; how over the last few decades our diets have changed as a culture; why are we not teaching our future generations about proper nutrition? Why is food imported from other countries more expensive versus locally grown food that doesn’t use as much fuel for transportation?

Issues with Social Media in the Classroom Session Notes

Issues with Social Media in the Classroom
Notetaker: Laura Micciche

Present: Molly Brayman, Pam Bach, Debbie Tenofsky, Scott Taylor, Olga Hart, Martha Sledge, Laura Micciche, Winnie Kaur, Mary Sefcik


  • Are people using different kinds of social media platforms in classrooms? Best practices? How to use instagram, twitter, etc.? What are your experiences? What are the possibilities? What concerns do we have?
  • Do we want social media that’s already integrated in their lives? Or do we want something separate?
  • How can we use what students are already engaged in to enhance classroom learning?
  • How does information move between communities? How can we use it in class to good effect?

For more, see the pdf.


Digital History-Tools and Techniques Session Notes

Click here for the full session notes/discussion from the Digital History-Tools and Techniques Session.

Most of the resources discussed in this session are available in Byron’s Google Drive folder.  Notes from this session build on and discuss tools from the list he’s created in the GD.

Important Caveats/Advice for Using Digital Tools

  • Be sure to reference and try out the tools from the Google Drive.
  • Don’t let digital tools overwhelm you. Instead of focusing on a tool’s content, think instead about the context in which you’re using it and why it’s the appropriate approach to take.
  • Within the DH, there’s no need for isolation anymore and although we often feel we don’t have time to build different tools on our own, they are out there already and we can gain a lot by working collaboratively with people across disciplines and backgrounds.
  • You don’t have to be creator of content, you can be a curator.
  • Consider the 3Cs: Content, context, community.

Games in the Classroom Session Notes

Click here for the full summary/notes from the gaming session (including definitions and examples of games in the classroom; possibilities and types of games; learning outcomes possible with games; and participant thoughts/points made during discussion).

Gaming Pedagogy Scholarship/Resources discussed: