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Panama Silver, Asian Gold: Collaborative Pedagogy for the Digital Age (Amherst Reunion Talk)


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Panama Silver, Asian Gold: Collaborative Pedagogy for the Digital Age (Amherst Reunion Talk)
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Presentation slides
Cobham-Sander, Rhonda
Roser, Missy
Amherst College
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Amherst, MA
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Digital Humanities
Panama Silver, Asian Gold


Presentation/talk for the Amherst Reunion on the Panama Silver, Asian Gold: Migration, Money, and the Making of the Modern Caribbean course was collaboratively created and taught at Amherst College, University of Florida, and University of Miami.

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright by Creators. Permission granted to the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) to digitize and display this item for research and educational uses. Permission to reuse, publish or reproduce this item for purposes other than what is allowed by fair use or other copyright exemptions must be obtained from the copyright holder.
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Panama Silver, Asian Gold: Collaborative Pedagogy for the Digital Age Rhonda Cobham Sander Professor of Black Studies and English Missy Roser Head of Research & Instruction, Frost Library


An experiment in decentralized, collaborative, blended learning using technology and open-access resources MOOC : Pedagogically centralized, branded by a single institution instead: Expertise is distributed throughout a network, among participants situated in diverse institutional contexts, within diverse material, geographic, and national settings, and who embody and perform diverse identities (as teachers, as students, as mediamakers, as activists, as trainers, as members of various publics, for example). [excerpted from FemTechNet ]


Panama Silver, Asian Gold: Migration and the Birth of Modern Caribbean Literature pilot for intercollegiate digital humanities coursessupported by libraries of all three institutionstaught in fall 2013 as a hybrid course with collaboration among campuses


Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) literature, newspapers, journals, photographs relevant to the development of literature, nationalism, and Independence in the West IndiesJ.J. Thomas Froudacity Claude McKay Songs of Jamaica and Constab Ballads The Poetry of Una Marson The All Jamaica Library The Independence anthology of Jamaican literature and nearly all books written by Herbert de Lisser


Course Description Concurrent migrations of Chinese and Indian indentured laborers to the Caribbean and Afro Caribbean workers to and from the Panama Canal, at the turn of the twentieth century, profoundly influenced the style and scope of modern Caribbean literature. Both migrant groups worked under difficult conditions for exploitative wages, yet members of each managed to save enough to enter the educated middle class. Their cultural forms and political aspirations shaped Caribbean literary production as well as anti colonial political movements. In this course, students will learn how to use digital, print, and audiovisual archival material related to these migrations to enrich their reading of Caribbean literature. Librarians at Frost as well as scholars, librarians, and students at two other universities will join us. We will hold some class discussions online and students at all three campuses will learn how to create finding aids for the archives we use. We will read works by Claude McKay, H.G. de Lisser, Marcus Garvey, George Lamming, V.S. Naipaul, Ismith Khan, Ramabai Espinet, Meiling Jin, and Patricia Powell.


Vision We hope that the course will become part of a broader initiative to make visible to other teachers and scholars new ways of incorporating archival material into research on Caribbean literature and culture. Since the Panama and Asian migrations are rarely privileged in stories Caribbean nationalists tell about the region, we want to use the project to intervene more broadly in the way Caribbean literary scholarship imagines the Caribbean cultural diaspora and interrogates the ways in which both traditional and colonial archival sources shape the stories we can tell about the Caribbean region. We hope our experiment will sow the seed for future collaborative courses involving students at institutions in the Caribbean, Panama, China, and/or India, capable of working with relevant documents from these regions in languages other than English.


Course Objectives: Literary and Historical Gain knowledge of key concepts themes tropes styles, and aesthetic concerns of Caribbean literary discourse by examining literature about these two migrations written during the migrations and contemporary literature that examines them. Integrate this historical research into literary analysis, using contemporary historical studies, and primary historical sources such as government reports, oral histories, historical photographs, newspapers, and memoirs.Enhance dLOCs collection in two key areas: West Indians in Panama and Asians in the CaribbeanIlluminate some of the limitations of the colonial archive records of subaltern and disenfranchised people and t echniques used by Caribbean scholars, writers, and ordinary people to challenge and/or employ these colonial historical sources to illuminate the experience of indentured Asian immigrants and West Indians working in Panama


Faculty & Librarian collaboration Collaborative design of syllabus including assignments, incorporating archival research techniques and introducing digital humanities aims and toolsPooling resources for guest lectures & for digitizing materials (5 guest speakers online, streamed to three campuses, supported by Academic Technology at Amherst)Working with librarians from each campus to choose appropriate technology and design technology based assignments and then to teach these to students


Collaborative experiment with online pedagogies


Research methods and digital humanities To use hands on assignments to teach research methods for newspapers, photographs, memoirs, historical accounts, government records, oral histories.


Research methods and digital humanities To introduce students to the technology used in digital archiving (producing metadata, exhibit labels, finding aids) and digital humanities (timelines, data visualizations like mapping programs, Zotero, WordPress)


Respect for diversity, specificity, and the local + critical engagement with technology Challenges posed by digital archiving; how can we avoid reproducing the colonial structure of existing historical archival materials?Students note absence of online presence for the Caribbean authors they study and see their work as potentially intervening in the US European orientation of Wikipedia and other digital sources on literature Students digital research projects (finding aids, curated exhibits, timelines) that annotate and explicate literary and primary historical sources can address bias and lacunae in existing archives. Successfully completed projects will be added to the Digital Library of the Caribbean (www.dloc.com) to enrich information available about these sources and help future scholars and students make use of them.


Collaborative creation of the historical archives


Enhancing dLOCs holdings and information about Asians in the Caribbean and West Indians, particularly women, active in Panama


Resources in dLOC added for/from the class Villalobos, Joan Victoria Flores. West Indian Women in the Panama Canal Zone, 1904 -1914. Thesis. Amherst College, 2010. Isthmian Historical Society competition for the best true stories of life and work on the Isthmus of Panama during the construction of the Panama Canal Mahase Snr., Anna. My Mothers Daughter Trinidad: Royard Pub. Co, 1992. Syllabi, assignments, and powerpoint presentations Being added to dLOC: videos of guest lectures and a finding aid for all the course materials; plans in the future for more developed lecture notes and commentary for teaching the course.


Final projects as exploration of DH + interests


Final projects as a way to enhance the archive Yasmina Martin, Amherst College, Encountering cultures: the role of the Chinese shop in Jamaica, 1890 1940 provides historical background and context for a specific novel, Patricia Powells Pagoda, but also a general overview of scholarship and key concepts about Chinese immigration to Jamaica, including historical photos and newspaper articles about anti Chinese riots, and anti Chinese racism (Yellow Peril). Abigail Nichols, University of Miami, Women of the Panama Canal brings together information from two previously hard to access texts with images from primary sources to illuminate the different roles West Indian women played in the Panama Canal projects and to dismantle the general assumption that they were few in number and all employed in domestic work. Dhanashree Thorat, University of Florida, Indian Indenture places the memoir of one IndoTrinidadian woman, who narrates the story of her parents who migrated from Trinidad as indentured workers, in the context of the large scale migration through mapping and a timeline.


Further CollaborationConference Panel on the course at the International Conference on Caribbean Literature, to introduce the project and invite other faculty to joinPlan to teach the course collaboratively in Fall 2015Plans underway to produce a DH project based on the course


Some lessons learned Technological learning curveCross cultural communicationPedagogical feedback and improvements



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