ANN: Exploring the Caribbean in DH: A dLOC as Data workshop series

Matthew Davidson's picture

Much as archipelagos—a journal of Caribbean digital praxis pushes us to recognize, scholars of the Caribbean “are called upon now, with some urgency, to adapt our investigative and pedagogical methods to an academic climate deluged by a superabundance of information and analysis.” This ‘digital turn’ comes with much possibility, of course – just as the pages of archipelagos attest – but it can also be a daunting turn to navigate. In the hopes of encouraging more Caribbean-focused digital humanities scholarship and collaboration, the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) is pleased to present Exploring the Caribbean in DH: A dLOC as Data workshop series.

This workshop series is for anyone interested in either Caribbean Studies or digital humanities. It will plot and explore the landscape of data sources in Caribbean Studies, and will provide space to think about and discuss how to identify and use various Caribbean data sources. Across the various workshops, participants will work with dLOC’s own collections – getting a sneak peak at the dLOC as Data project in the process – and other resources to develop new skills and explore new possibilities for digital inquiry. The series will explore various technical, conceptual, and ethical considerations for such work as well.

All of the workshops will be held via Zoom. There is no cost to join, but advance registration is required. Please see below for individual workshop details – and note that there are more to come. For any questions, please contact

This series is sponsored by the Collections as Data initiative, a Mellon Foundation-supported program.


Foundations: Delving into Newspaper Data
June 4, 11am-12:30pm EDT
Facilitated by Dr. Schuyler Esprit

This workshop uses the DLOC Newspaper collection to explore the critical role of primary source data in archival research. The session will help participants think through the following questions:

  • What unique approaches and insights does newspaper data offer about the Caribbean?
  • What broader research questions about the Caribbean’s sociopolitical and cultural complexity emerge from analysis of the countries and histories represented in the DLOC collection?
  • What are the strengths and challenges of the user interface of the DLOC newspaper collections?
  • Who/what is the story in the archive? Who owns the narratives and/or the histories? How do we account for the presence or absence of these distinctions in reporting, editorials and reader contributions represented?

The workshop will employ theories of close and distant reading (broadly defined) to help participants explore select titles in the DLOC newspaper collection and will also analyze digital projects using DLOC newspaper resources as primary data to evaluate the collection’s strengths, gaps and possibilities for telling Caribbean stories.

To register, please click here: REGISTER.


Student Workshop: Dreaming with Data
June 11, 11am-12:30pm EDT
Facilitated by Dr. Schuyler Esprit

This workshop takes the rhetorical exercise of inquiry as a point of departure for navigating DLOC data. We will use rhetorical analysis as the framework for searching and analyzing items and collections in the database. Participants will employ a “search and serendipity” method as a point of entry into the portal and use the inquiry framework to define, refine and their research questions and project design. The goal of this approach is to interrogate and challenge the colonial concept of “discovery” in archival research, by positioning the student researcher as a practitioner of care for archival material of all kinds.

This workshop is ideal for students with big ideas or broad topics of interest who are curious about working with digital data collections and want to use them to help clarify their thinking and refine their research questions and strategy. Participants do not need to have any experience with digital humanities or computational analysis, but should be prepared to come to the workshop with a broad research topic in mind. With specific attention to the digital collections of DLOC, participants will be guided to use primary sources as the catalyst to turn ideas into research questions, then into more formal projects.

During the workshop, participants will be introduced to and work with digital concept mapping with Miro software to create a subject or keyword matrix. We will explore the interfaces of DLOC and Chronicling America, and use select data sets from these including Dominica Herald, Abeng (Jamaica) and Barbados Mercury to discuss connections and themes emerging from the matrix in order to refine research questions. The workshop will also introduce students to methods and tools for searching and analyzing bulk data, including MALLET and Voyant, used for topic modeling in digital humanities contexts.

To register, please click here: REGISTER.


Ethical Re-use: Disaster Related Data
June 18, 11am-12:30pm EDT
Facilitated by Dr. Schuyler Esprit

The Caribbean is a historically vulnerable region for many reasons, including its relationship to climate and the environment. The region’s experience with extreme disasters – from the magnitude 7earthquake in Haiti to Category 5 hurricanes barrelling through many countries’ and now the eruption of the volcano at St. Vincent’s La Soufriere – and with public health threats, including Chikungunya, Dengue fever, Zika and now COVID-19, is well documented. As a result of the frequency and intensity of these events, the region’s history of disasters is now a major focus of Caribbean Studies research. DLOC data becomes valuable for contextualizing our current moment through the lens of the Caribbean’s sociopolitical and environmental history. This workshop aims to reflect on the theories and praxis of research and data use, and to think through best practices for navigating data about disaster.

The workshop will address some key topics including:

  • Urgency of preserving and using digital resources in our current moment, amid climate, COVID, etc.
  • Need for not just accessibility, but also equity in distribution and representation
  • Fragility of solutions for access, even when they appear equitable, framed around the question, “Can the people who need dLOC the most actually access it?”
  • Questions of ownership beyond copyright and location of resources. Questions of ownership of narrative and story: is the analysis and storytelling emerging from use of these resources ethical, i.e. honoring those represented in the archives?

To register, please click here: REGISTER.


More workshops to be announced soon!