Summer Fellows’ Research Engages with the Challenges of Our Time

This year, we welcomed (virtually) our first cohort of Summer Fellows in Digital Humanities. The new program was created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and supports Princeton graduate students working on short-term projects using digital humanities tools, methods, or theories. These projects take on some of the most pressing topics of today, from the pandemic to racial injustice, from migration to global computing. We are pleased to offer a first look at the Fellows and their research plans, and look forward to seeing how all the projects develop.

Summer Fellows in DH
Summer Fellows in Digital Humanities (clockwise from top left): Guillermo S. Arsuaga, Jordana Composto, Clemens Finkelstein, Taylor Zajicek, Alexandra D. Sastrawati, and Shelby Lohr. Not pictured: Julian Chehirian, Rebecca Faulkner, N.A. Mansour, and Adéráyọ̀ Sànúsí.

Name: Guillermo S. Arsuaga
Department or Program: History and Theory of Architecture 
Project Title: Ellis Island as an Architectural-Medical Immigration Checkpoint
Project Summary: Arsuaga will use the online archives of the New York Public Library to learn how, in the first half of the twenty century, the written media described the immigration medical inspections at Ellis Island. He will also consider parallels with the current pandemic, particularly with regard to “spatial transformations in urban spaces, border controls, and global mobilities.”

Name: Julian Chehirian
Department or Program: History of Science
Project Title: House: Archive of Silence
Project Summary: Chehirian will work with Lilla Topouzova (University of Toronto) and Krasimira Butseva (University of the Arts London) to create a “multimedia platform that represents the material world of ethnographic encounters with survivors of labor camps in Soviet Eastern Europe.” The immediate goal is to produce a multimedia essay combining photography, oral history, and narrative.

Name: Jordana Composto
Department or Program: Psychology
Project Title: Corporate Statements in Response to Societal Events
Project Summary: For her project, Composto will create a database of corporate statements involving climate change, COVID-19, and the George Floyd protests and “develop and test methods to analyze corporate language and surface social norms.” She will also create a toolkit for businesses to promote accountability in the face of social crises.

Name: Rebecca Faulkner
Department or Program: Religion
Project Title: Muslim America Undergraduate Course Syllabus
Project Summary: Faulkner, who is a graduate teaching fellow at the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, will develop a syllabus on Muslim America that “utilizes digital humanities approaches to content selection and curriculum design and in doing so models online research and learning strategies for students.”

Name: Clemens Finkelstein
Department or Program: History and Theory of Architecture
Project Title: The Hum of Viral Equilibrium: COVID-19 Pandemic Lulls the Planetary Ambient
Project Summary:  For his project, Finkelstein plans to use contemporary geoseismic data, historical seismograms and event catalogs to “extrapolate . . . a rich narrative about the otherwise invisible force of vibration that moves our planet and oscillates through our buildings and bodies.” He hopes to produce a paper or presentation on the topic and perhaps to imagine a virtual exhibition for the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles.

Name: Shelby Lohr
Department or Program: History
Project Title: George Bourne: 19th Century Publishing and Reformism
Project Summary: Lohr’s project focuses on the nineteenth-century writer George Bourne, an abolitionist who also authored anti-Catholic works. Lohr explains that she hopes “to draft a series of word clouds based on Bourne's works, and prepare an interactive map to trace [his] rhetoric and publishing history.”

Name: N.A. Mansour
Department or Program: Near Eastern Studies
Project Title: Translating Research Resources into Arabic
Project Summary: Mansour co-directs a website, Hazine.info, that brings together scholars, librarians, artists, and others working on the Islamicate world. This summer, she intends to translate some of the material into Arabic and also to produce new Arabic-language content for the site.

Name: Adéráyọ̀ Sànúsí
Department or Program: Anthropology
Project Title: Engineering Afrofutures in Nigeria's Silicon Lagoon
Project Summary:  Sànúsí explains that she “hopes to use mapping, social network analysis, and other forms of data visualization to . . . articulate the value of studying computing artifacts in locales commonly understood as merely receiving such technologies.” The work will complement her research on how the work of Nigerian computer engineers reflects communitarian-capitalism, or the African value of ubuntu. 

Name: Alexandra D. Sastrawati
Department or Program: Anthropology
Project Title: Mental Health and Urban Marginality in Contemporary Singapore and Japan
Project Summary: Sastrawati plans to further her dissertation research on the intersection of queerness and depression in contemporary Singapore and Japan by completing “empirical and conceptual work on transnational activism and queer mental health in Singapore.”

Name: Taylor Zajicek
Department or Program: History
Project Title: “Don’t Touch that Anthill!”: The Visual Propaganda of Soviet Nature Conservation, 1960-1991
Project Summary: Zajicek will contribute to the environmental history of Cold War Eurasia by “cataloguing and tagging a corpus of Soviet posters spanning four decades of anti-poaching, regulatory, and conservation efforts.” He will then turn this information into a dataset that includes publication information and visual content, to be used by other scholars.

 

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