Open, Digital, Collaborative Project Preservation in the Humanities

Conference Chair: Luis Meneses (Vancouver Island U)

All times are in Pacific Time
Presentation recordings for all aligned events are available to registered participants on the DHSI 2023 group on the Canadian HSS Commons.

Thursday, June 15, 10:00am–12:00pm




Luis Meneses (Vancouver Island U)


Farinaz Basmechi (Feminist and Gender Studies Institute, U Ottawa)
“A Topic Modeling Analysis of Women’s Issues in the Middle East”

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Abstract: This paper examines the structural contexts that frame women’s lives in the Middle East and addresses the unique challenges they face in their lifetime. Although much has been written about women in the Middle East, literature on feminism seldom analyzes women’s situation as a structural problem in the region. In most cases, social scientists and feminist activists analyze women’s lives in one or two Middle Eastern countries to conduct analytical, theoretical, or comparative studies. Due to differences, the tendency to study each specific geographical location separately sounds plausible, since there are historical and cultural variances in the region. Nevertheless, over the last few decades, in the globalized world, some repetitive structural patterns have negatively impacted women’s daily lives in the Middle East. In addition, digital humanities tools enabled researchers to conduct analysis on big corpus of data produced by scholars. This study argues that women’s situation in the Middle East has been simultaneously shaped and exacerbated through the “triad” of patriarchy, religion (Islam), and politics (national and international). I used genism library to run topic modeling on 170 most recent articles focusing on women’s issues in each country located in the region (10 articles per country), to highlight the most important women/gender related issues brought up by scholars in each country. I aim to examine the “Intersectional” situation of women in the Middle East and to explain how Middle Eastern women’s life experiences, conditions, and subjectivities are negatively affected by structural forces in a unique “matrix of domination.”



James Smith (Ursa Frontier LLC)
“Data as the path to sustainability”

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Abstract: In this talk, I will discuss my experience in software development and what I have learned in elevating the interaction between the computer and the human from a focus on implementation to a focus on intent. I believe that one way to make projects sustainable is to focus on capturing the intent in a computationally actionable form. Then, as computational capabilities evolve, the intent can be realized in different ways that carry the project forward. I’d like to look at three different areas to see how intent is separated from implementation and realized in a concrete form. This should give us some ideas about how to design Digital Humanities projects that can be sustained over time even as the underlying implementations might need to evolve. The contemporary digital facsimile edition balances openness, accessibility, and intellectual property concerns through the use of the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF). IIIF-compatible viewers make the underlying data accessible, but as the software ages or systems become more capable, new IIIF-compatible viewers can use the same underlying data. The work that went into creating the data is not lost. Creating the facsimile as a data-first project also allows for unplanned uses of the data. Cognitive models in agent-based simulations are designed to model the decision making of an entity with agency. These often involve event perception, planning, and actions with the simulation engine adjudicating the actions to result in new events. Modeling the planning behavior as data through a domain-specific language (DSL) rather than lower-level code elevates the definition of the cognitive models above the simulation to the level of the data scientist or modeler. It also makes it easier to port the models to different simulation engines. Games, especially video games, are a visualization layered atop game data and mechanics. Game architectures allow the underlying rules and data to be separate from the user interface. A game for the PC might have a different user interface than that for a game console, but the data and engine will be the same. Moving to a new game device only requires changing the interface rather than rewriting the entire game.



Alan Colín-Arce, Rosario Rogel-Salazar (U Autónoma del Estado de México)
“Digital counterarchives for documenting local social movements”

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Abstract: Traces of protests and social movements (such as signs, graffiti, and other interventions) tend to disappear quickly, both because these expressions of protest are ephemeral in themselves and because governmental or institutional authorities sometimes erase, clean, or remove these traces before they can be documented and preserved, either physically or digitally. Building digital counterarchives can resist this erasure of local and subaltern histories of social movements by “expanding the historical record and supporting the current work and community-building of […] social justice organizations” (Shayne et al., 2016, p. 52). Digital counterarchives can also foster collaboration with activist groups and organizations, working with them to preserve these ephemeral traces. In this presentation, we will discuss the methodology behind Huellas Incómodas (, a digital counterarchive created to document, contextualize, and preserve the records of local feminist movements in Latin America. Huellas Incómodas is an open, bilingual counterarchive developed in Omeka that currently contains 500 images from cities in Latin America. The images are collected in two ways: 1. A member of the Huellas team takes photographs of protest traces and uploads them to the website with descriptive metadata to contextualize the images. 2. The other method is crowdsourcing, where activists self-archive their images directly on the site and add metadata. This approach allows the initiative to expand to other cities and activist groups in Latin America. We believe it is possible to create similar counterarchives in other parts of the world, or for other social movements, as a way of collaborating with activists to digitally document and preserve their demands and protests. References Shayne, J. D., Hattwig, D., Ellenwood, D., & Hiner, T. (2016). Creating Counter Archives: The University of Washington Bothell’s Feminist Community Archive of Washington Project. Feminist Teacher, 27(1), 47.