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Thursday, May 28 • 10:20am - 11:35am
African and African-descendant Cultures in the Digital Age: Adoption, Adaptation and the Emergence of Complex Identities.

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As Christine Henseler affirms in Spanish Fiction in the Digital Age (2011) “technology is taking an ever-increasing role in the construction of new meanings. Speed, fragmentation, jumps in time and space, and the convergence of different genres, culture and media allow for more multiple and malleable identities to take shape” (221). However, some scholars contest this position by raising arguments related to the so-called “digital divide”. In his Digitopia Digital Blues: race, technology and the American Voice (2002), John Sobol argues, “...in the world today, people of colour are largely absent from the Internet, excluded from participation in the digital revolution (...). Huge swaths of the of-colour world are missing [things like education, money, network infrastructure, computers to access the Web etc.], and so are unable to engage with the digital future" (10). Despite Sobol’s statement, a decade later, the world has witnessed the emergence of ‘minority’ artists, activists, organizations that take advantage of the now more accessible and cheaper digital or mobile technologies, and social media tools to subvert, resist, and parody impositions, as well as create and recreate images, genres, and alternative circuits of communication. All of this has allowed these actors to propose self-representations and images.

In this vein, our main aim in the present curated panel is to present the findings of our research projects that look at the ways in which ethnically diverse communities are currently adopting and adapting digital tools to their own cultural dynamics. The panel will focus on four case studies related to African and African-descendant cultures: 1) Digital poetry and activism by the Generación de la Amistad group (Western Sahara/Spain); 2) Digital African-humanism proposed by Juan Tomás Ávila (Equatorial Guinea); 3) Afro-descendent digital activism developed by the Afro-Latin@ Project (USA/Latin America) and 4) radical and anti-oppressive Afrxlatinx praxis of the Latinegrxs Project (USA/Latin America). We will engage in discussion regarding these four cases, and will present the analysis we have carried out through data gathering, curation and visualization (by means of online repositories, topic map models and other visualization tools) in order to understand how the above-mentioned actors appropriate digital tools as well as create new identities and identity representations that emerge from the contact between ethnic values and digital tools. This panel will showcase DH experiences that emerge at the intersection of Humanities, Social Sciences, technology and activism. Our aim is to cast light over new forms of knowledge based on complex social and cultural interactions, and to reflect on the need for new methodologies.

avatar for Eduard Arriaga

Eduard Arriaga

Assistant Professor, Western University
avatar for Dorothy Odartey-Wellington

Dorothy Odartey-Wellington

Associate Professor, University of Guelph

Designated Tweeters
avatar for Danielle Wong

Danielle Wong

PhD Candidate, McMaster University
Research interests in social-media performance, race and technology, and Asian North American digital productions. @danielledywong 

Kimberly Bain

Post-Baccalaureate, 5CollDH

Thursday May 28, 2015 10:20am - 11:35am EDT
Centennial Room Kellogg Center

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