Tag Archives: intro

Introduction to Cindy Nguyen

I’m originally from Los Angeles and in a little over a month I will move back to California for the Ph.D. program in Southeast Asian history at Berkeley. In my time here at Michigan State, I finished an M.A. in history, experienced ‘seasons’ for the first time, and developed a curiosity for digital humanities. My work on the MSU Vietnam Group Archive, a digitization project spearheaded by the MSU Department of History, MSU Archives & Historical Collections, and MATRIX, initially sparked my interest/confusion of the possible combination of ‘digital’ and ‘humanities.’I particularly enjoy the collaborative nature of many digital humanities projects including the Vietnam Group Archive. I’m still learning about this wonderfully exciting world of dh resources, events, and centers, and hope that this summer’s field school will continue to broaden my understanding.

 I am also interested in the methodological possibilities of digital humanities in the representation of space and movement. My current research explores the flourishing culture of Vietnamese travel embodied by the surge in travel stories (du ký) and advertisements published primarily in romanized Vietnamese newspapers between the 1920s and 1940s. With the work of data crunching and GIS software, I hope to also ‘translate’ the textual representations of travel into a visualization of Vietnamese movement more broadly from the 16th century to 20th century. In this wider comparison of the rich sources of precolonial and colonial travel stories, maps, and itineraries, I seek to shed light upon the distinct changes and literary continuity over time. I believe that digital tools, larger data sets, and GIS can be useful tools for textual based research and can help bridge to the divide between ‘qualitative’ and ‘quantitative’ research. For more on my research, see my Academia.edu page.

Introduction: Mel

Hi! My name is Mel Walker and I’m originally from Livonia, Michigan, It’s a pretty unsuspecting suburb in metro Detroit. Currently, I’m an undergraduate here at Michigan State. I’ll be going into my third year with a major in Anthropology and a newly added minor in Geography. I signed up for the Cultural Heritage Informatics field school because it sounded like too interesting of an opportunity to pass up. I had originally looked into doing an archaeological field school but was unable to work it in this summer. When I heard about this field school opportunity, I jumped at the chance to take. I still haven’t figured out exactly where I want to focus within Anthropology so I’m trying out new areas to discover what all is out there.

Digital technology is advancing faster than ever these days and is absolutely vital to just about any career out there. This field school seemed like a great opportunity to gain a basic working knowledge of many important concepts and skills. I’ve always been rather bad with technology and despite spending an unnecessarily large amount of time online I had no idea how any in or on my computer worked. This is a chance for me to improve my knowledge and also learn how to apply it to my future academic endeavors.

First go by @jaredbidlow


Finding the field school’s method of instruction and subject matter of interest, I have come to know it, since traveling to Michigan to take part, as a platform for expressing incipient social research concerns. How people relate to cultural materials, especially digitally, is important as we enter into an age when these materials worth will have to significantly secured, restructured and reconsidered. I’m especially interested here in critical resource insecurities as they come to manifest changes in social practices. Also of concern is the prolonging of the financial crisis and the deepening of inequality.

Within the confines of digital humanities, itself a contested term, there arises the related responses of 1) an urgency to embracing sophisticated platforms to both the self-application of them to scholarly practice and the the extrinsic application of them to archives, cultural/material artifacts, etc. and 2) a progressive harnessing of these technologies to hopefully be fruitful in bridging the gap between the multiple disciplines which make up the university and the broader public. I believe that 2 is often uncritically deployed. Therefore, I have real concerns with the aligning of digital humanities projects with financial interests. I have as well to face the more immediate concern of the crisis in employability of humanities graduates in the US. So I guess you could call me a digital skeptic with regard to its status in enabling my personal pursuit in the humanities, at least within the academy in its present state.

However, I have a love for “the digital”, digitally-enabled solidarity and friendships, and I also have a tremendous appreciation for the utility of digital algorithms to solve complex problems in the world. Here I think that engaging at the level of rhetoric is useful: to ask, for example, how our experiences of the world are mediated by things is to ask how the digital transforms perspectives, for good or not. This is the site at which games and critical interfaces can push incremental changes in perspective on their users.

So, basic concerns outran any form of personal introduction. I have a cat that I miss in Pennsylvania, where I enjoy hiking on the Appalachian Trail. I’m a graduate of Temple University. As I attended school, it became clear that a set of activist political orientations would be what I would devote a large amount of time acting out. I am still informed by the way that plural interpretations of political activity are put in relation, where intersections are around shared necessities.

INTRODUCTION: Celeste….Gypsy Womyn

My name is Celeste Â-Re.  I am a New Jersey native, raised in Detroit, and an alumna of Michigan State.  I currently reside in Washington, D.C.  Nine years ago I ventured outside of my comfort zone to pursue an offshoot of my interest in libraries and archives.  Trusting I could transfer skills developed over the span of my career as a performance arts manager and educator in New York, I enrolled part-time in graduate school and received a master’s degree in library information science from Long Island University.  My aim has subsequently evolved into the current iteration of my development from cultural worker to digital curator.

In 2012, I took a sabbatical from the Library of Congress to begin doctoral studies at the University of South Carolina School of Library and Information Science. As a first year Cultural Heritage Informatics fellow, my research interests are developing towards critical approaches to:

  • Mapping the cultural ecology of transformative learning communities.
  • pragmatic approaches to tacit knowledge.

My objectives are informed by my stagecraft and librarianship/archival experiences combined with my interest in community informatics, indigenous episteme, and digital cultural heritage.

I’ve been eager to collaborate with the CHI Initiative since I learned about it in 2010 and look forward to participating in the fieldschool.  I hope to expand my understanding of trends and issues in cultural heritage informatics; develop practical skills as a digital curator, and foster a network of colleagues and collaborators.

This post was written by Rachel

Hello, everyone! My name is Rachel and I am from Maybee. And yes, we do have handmade painted signs saying “Maybee the best little town in Michigan” and “Maybee you’ll come back again.” We also have a huge quarry, an operating trading post, a motorcycle shop, a rocket ship in the park, and the largest parking lot belongs to a church, whose festival highlights are sandbelt racing and guessing the weight of a pig. It’s pretty great.

But I am also an undergraduate student in the History Department here at MSU. I will be graduating in December, and am currently working on my senior thesis that will hopefully encompass the geospatial characteristics of marronage in Saint-Domingue (Haiti), which is one of the primary reasons for my participation in the field school this summer. I’m really hoping to learn more about how historians can make their research and data more accessible to the general public and to other researchers. I attended a prominent conference several months ago for the first time and I was struck by how these incredibly intelligent and interesting scholars who had been working on fascinating topics managed to present in such a boring manner. —– Imagine photos with Arial font caption on white Powerpoint slides and reading verbatim paragraph after paragraph from a 10 page paper. —– There just has to be a better, or at least more effective, way to communicate historical research.

So presenting papers may not be something that I find exciting — but maps and graphics and computers and playing around with data definitely are. And luckily MSU has MATRIX, which focuses on these exact elements of presentation and scholarship. I have been working with MATRIX off and on since last July through a project in the History Department, but I still didn’t know that much about the digital humanities, programming, or project design. The CHI field school will certainly be able to help with that and I’m excited to collaborate with all the great people I’ve met over the coming month. See ya next week!!!

Hello, I’m Flora.

Hi everyone! My name is Flora and I am a librarian/archivist/information manager by trade, training and inclination. Usually I live (back home) in New Zealand where I am a research assistant within an awesome team at Victoria University of Wellington’s Wai-te-ata Press. There, I work on digital history projects surrounding New Zealand’s early print culture and trade. I have a BA in English Literature and (oh so soon) also a Masters of Information Studies.  I am captivated by data, metadata, and linked open data.

Like everyone at the Fieldschool, I am fascinated by how digital technology intersects with and impacts cultural heritage concerns and practices. Investigating digital cultural heritage is important for a million reasons, but a few points resonate strongly with me: firstly, a digital heritage environment allows us to engage with audiences outside institutional walls. Secondly, it radically alters how we perform those familiar cultural heritage practices (curation, preservation etc). And, lastly, it provides new ways of asking and answering historical or heritage questions. These changes provide countless opportunities for (and challenges to…) enriching cultural heritage, and since digital technology looks like it’s here to stay it’s critical to understand what these factors are and how they work!

If I was only allowed three questions I would ask: what happens to cultural heritage when you conceptualize it using digital tools? Practically speaking, how can digital tools augment heritage practices and inquiries? And most importantly, please can someone teach me ALL the technical know-how for creating high quality projects, okay? Thanks heaps!

I am really looking forward to getting under the hood of the WWW and further developing a technical toolkit. I also feel that knowing the nitty gritty of digital tools provides a great background for engaging with, creating and using digital cultural heritage thoughtfully and with a reflexive critical eye. I’m really excited about spending the new few weeks at the Fieldschool, learning new skills and talking shop with interesting, like-minded people.  (Other times, when I’m not thinking about information, print culture and the web, I’m usually reading, knitting, doing yoga or going on walks and adventures!)

True Life: I’m Hillary

On this episode of True Life, you will be discovering what it’s like to live the life of Hillary Spruit… Okay, that’s as far as I can take that. Haha. But I would like to tell you a little about myself. I am a finishing my last semester of undergrad in December, receiving a degree in Anthropology with a specialization in Ancient Egyptian Archaeology, as well as Peace, Justice, & Conflict Studies. I am currently preparing for law school applications, where I would like to explore the field of Antiquities Law.

I started my college education as a student of the residential college James Madison here at MSU, majoring in Comparative Cultures and Politics (and Pre-Law). When on the first day of class, the professors gathered all of the freshman for a “welcoming to the Brotherhood”, I knew I was not in the right place. Fortunately, that same semester I was introduced to the world of anthropology. The next semester, it became my major.

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with the ancient mysteries (and discoveries!) of  Egypt. So as soon as I could, I took my area course with Ethan (which is what eventually led me here). The emotion and inspiration that were provoked from that class solidified my decision to go to law school to fight for the preservation of ancient artifacts which shaped the world we live in today.

As for the Cultural Heritage Informatics Fieldschool  my advisor had a lot to do with that. I was interested in going on a study abroad this summer, yet I couldn’t find the right fit for my field of interest. My advisor asked if I had heard of Ethan and the Fieldschool he was teaching, and I must admit, I knew nothing of the program. But as soon as I read that I would be working both with cultural heritage and digital technology, I knew this would be an excellent program for me.

Technology is seemingly exponential in its progress, and isn’t going to be slowing down anytime soon. In order to be successful in ANY field, experiences like the ones we are going to receive here are invaluable in the workplace, giving myself and my peers a leg up on our ‘competition’. As our first week comes to an end, I have become more and more excited about the work that we will be able to create as a whole.

I hope this gives you a little more information to figure out who I am and how I got here. Again, I couldn’t be more excited to see what our final product from all of this will be!


Introducing: Rikki Valkema

Who am I? Hello, my name is Richelle Valkema but I much rather prefer to be referred to as Rikki.  I am twenty two years old and super excited for my upcoming graduation in December.  I just finished up my fourth year at MSU as an undergraduate anthropology student focused in the socio-cultural subdivision specializing in Asian Studies.  My main area of interest is South Korea, especially the modern media culture and its relation to a possible increase in the South Korean crime rate.

Hobbies: reading, writing, singing, sketching, KOREAN!  I am currently studying Korean as well as Mandarin Chinese and I know a little Spanish as well as my native language, English.  Learning languages is actually a hobby of one of my younger sisters and mine.  Studying other cultures and practicing other languages have always been things that I enjoy so when I learned what anthropology was and that I could major in it, I quickly chose to major in it right away!

Where am I from?  I am a native Michigander born and raised in Kalamazoo.  I come from a relatively large family but I am the first child to go to college.

Why the CHI Fieldschool?  I chose to apply for this program/fieldschool because it specializes in the digital aspect of cultural heritage and I am sadly not very capable with technology.  I do not have my own webpage and my younger sister has always set up my accounts such as twitter and youtube.  I really wanted to understand technology better, and I really wanted to find out how this relates to cultural heritage.  Technology is becoming too important in the field of anthropology and I figured that I really couldn’t keep waiting to learn about it if I wanted to be capable and competitive in my career/search for a career.

Technology and the understanding of how it works is especially important considering how many of the sources for my area of interest are in a digital format and involve using technology that I am not currently familiar with.


So far from what I have seen this last week, I can’t wait to really dig into our project designing and creation.  There are so many people here that know where their interests and passions lay and I love how refreshing it is to be surrounded by passionate intellectuals!


It’s nice to meet you all!