Emory Report
July 6, 2009
Volume 61, Number 34


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July 6, 2009
Collaborative projects awarded funds

Two projects two centuries apart, one from the 19th and one from the 21st, have been awarded funding under the Emory Research Collaboration in the Humanities. Begun in 2007, the program, administered by the Office of the Provost, fosters research and collaborations between disciplines on projects that link the humanities and the social and hard sciences. A committee consisting of chairholders in the humanities, social sciences and sciences selects projects for funding following a peer review.

Eltis, Bay and Halbert create open database for identification in African slave trade

An interactive, freely available Web-based resource about the migration histories of approximately 11 million people of African descent forcibly transplanted to the Americas is the goal of the project titled “Origins: Researching the Identity of Africans Pulled into the Transatlantic Slave Trade, 1819–1845.”

Researchers are David Eltis, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of History; Edna G. Bay, associate professor in the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts (ILA); and Martin Halbert, director of digital innovations. When the resource database is completed, it will present geographic, ethnic and linguistic data on movements of peoples from Africa to the Americas, and foster collaboration between scholars and African Diaspora communities.

The Emory grant will support liaison work with diasporic communities, testing and modification of the African Origins (Web) Portal, development of historical maps of ethnic regions and design of an online mapping system for displaying and gathering feedback on these regions, and additional analysis of African names and descriptions of tribal markings in the historical records.

The award funds an expansion and continuation of this project, which has prior support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Harris, Moon and Sehat revisit post-Katrina NOLA to shape new approaches to problems
A single software platform will be developed to provide a new vantage point to explore the enduring problems of American society in the project “New Orleans after Katrina.” The hurricane visibly forced these problems into the public perception when the storm struck in August 2005 and questions about the social, economic, and class consequences of the hurricane remain unaddressed, according to the project proposal.

Investigators are Leslie Harris, associate professor in history and African American studies; Michael Moon, professor and director of graduate studies in the ILA; and Connie Moon Sehat, director of digital scholarship initiatives and adjunct faculty in the ILA.

The platform will integrate a critical social history of New Orleans with new methods in digital humanities scholarship and research in media studies and media coverage of Katrina and its aftermath. This new interactive online research environment will prompt scholars and students of New Orleans to rethink what they know about the city and about its history before and after Katrina, with particular attention to race and class.

The media studies aspect will encourage scholars to explore new types of research architecture in an Internet age.