Vlogging Auschwitz

June 24, 2021

Content creators on YouTube have turned to documenting their visits to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in vlog form. This increasingly popular social media format has made it possible for influencers to take up the role of popular historian, endowing their trips with a sense of moral responsibility. This talk argues that it is necessary to apply critical tools not only to content analysis but also to metadata and various methods of curating visibility on the platform. In addition to this, it delves into mechanisms of self-promotion and the fate of official narratives of commemoration in an era of user-generated content. Is this new cohort of popular history practitioners a welcome development in the field of commemoration?

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The Digital Black Atlantic

June 16, 2021

Drawing on her experience co-editing the volume The Digital Black Atlantic for the Debates in the Digital Humanities series (University of Minnesota Press) with Kelly Baker Josephs, Roopika Risam's talk will explore the challenges of putting postcolonial digital humanities into practice by producing a volume on African diaspora digital humanities. From series editors who struggled to see the difference between our proposed volume on the digital Black Atlantic and another proposed volume on global digital humanities to difficult editorial choices we encountered, the process of assembling the volume raised the critical question of how "the digital" travels throughout the African diaspora, changing and being changed by local contexts for digital knowledge production. The roots and routes of the digital in the African diaspora--from Nigeria to Dominica to South Africa to the United States to Jamaica and on--offer a critical transformation of digital humanities praxis that is a practice of cultural survival necessary to ensuring a central place for the African diaspora in the digital cultural record.

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Slave Revolt on Screen

May 26, 2021

The Haitian Revolution (1791–1804) was a momentous occasion in world history, the first successful revolution by enslaved Africans in the Americas. But the Revolution's memory was long suppressed in the US and Europe, prompted by fears among slaveholders that it would inspire copycat uprisings by enslaved people elsewhere, fighting for their own freedom. The Revolution's memory has been kept alive, however, in some kinds of popular culture. This talk introduced the Revolution and discussed some of the ways in which it has been depicted in global cinema and in video games. It asked: How have foreign and Haitian portrayals of the Revolution compared? And which have tended to be more accurate: cinematic portrayals of the Haitian Revolution or those in video games?

Showdown on the Pixel Frontier

April 28, 2021

Drawing on his new book Gamer Nation: Video Games and American Culture (Johns Hopkins University Press 2019), John Wills' talk offered insight into the simulation of "America" in modern video games. In particular, the talk explored how the nineteenth-century American West became a popular gameworld for the video game industry, and how early "Wild West"-themed titles in the 1970s not only taught players about the historic frontier, but also how to play a new interactive entertainment media. The talk, accordingly, discussed issues of storytelling, stereotyping, and myth-making in the Western video game genre.

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About Digital Americas

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