Collections as Data: Preserving Black Histories, Cultivating Black Futures

Join us for a panel discussion, “Preserving Black Histories, Cultivating Black Futures,” to launch the 2020–21 CDH-PUL Collections as Data series.

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Join us for a panel discussion, “Preserving Black Histories, Cultivating Black Futures, to launch the 2020–21 CDH-PUL Collections as Data series. 

Jennifer Garcon (University of Pennsylvania), an expert on community and public data, will facilitate a discussion with Amanda Henley (University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill), who will discuss On the Books: Jim Crow and Algorithms of Resistance, and Synatra Smith (Philadelphia Museum of Art) who will present her project, “Black Philly Multiverse.” 

 

Project Abstracts

On the Books: Jim Crow and Algorithms of Resistance is a collections as data and machine learning project of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries with the goal of discovering Jim Crow and racially-based legislation signed into law in North Carolina between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement (1866/67-1967).The project uses text mining and machine learning to identify racist language in legal documents, helping expose the wide-ranging effects of Jim/Jane Crow on the American South. We have coined the phrase “algorithms of resistance” in reference to Safiya Noble’s Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (2018). If algorithms can reinforce racism, could we also use algorithms to fight racism? Instead of proliferating racist ideas, can algorithms help us better study the history of race and advocate for justice?

Black Philly Multiverse is an interactive exhibition based on existing Black spaces within Philadelphia, past and present, that demonstrates how virtual reality can be used as a cultural heritage tool. The VR experience will take the traditional exhibition out of the gallery and instead function as a curated cafe, book store, social club, etc. to highlight a specific cultural phenomenon at a specific moment or moments in time. The objective is to demonstrate the creation, perpetuation, and transformation of the socio-political intersectional Black cultural landscape with special attention to the ways in which virtual and physical space are used as environments to conceptually and practically transform Black identification processes, as well as the material culture that contributes to this phenomenon.  

 

Panelist Bios

Jennifer Garcon is Digital Scholarship Library at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, research associate with the Library of Congress’s Radio Preservation Task Force, and a 2020–21 Mellon Research Fellow at the Price Lab for Digital Humanities at UPenn. As part of her work, Jennifer is collaborating with faculty members to create an archive of Black Philly that will help care for vulnerable data published by members of the community, particularly in neighborhoods that are rapidly changing due to gentrification and other forces. She previously served as CLIR Bollinger Fellow in Public and Community Data Preservation at UPenn. Jennifer earned a Ph.D. in History from the University of Miami. 

Amanda Henley is Head of Digital Services at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where she oversees the Research Hub at Davis Library. She is co-Principal Investigator and Project Lead of “On the Books: Jim Crow and the Algorithms of Resistance,” a collections as data and machine learning project with the goal of discovering Jim Crow and racially-based legislation signed into law in North Carolina between Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement. Amanda has been a librarian at UNC since 2002. She holds an M.A. in geography from UNC.

Synatra Smith is CLIR Fellow for Digital Curation and Scholarship in African American Studies at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In this role, she is leveraging data and research about the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s African-American art collection to expand how the museum presents and thinks about its holdings, and collaborating with Temple University Libraries’ digital humanities research center to unite the data and collections at the two institutions. Synatra came to the Museum from the Prince George’s African American Museum and Cultural Center in North Brentwood, Maryland. She earned her Ph.D. in Global and Sociocultural Studies from Florida International University.