Projects and Courses

Language & the Caribbean

Molly Hamm-Rodríguez (University of Colorado Boulder)

Molly Hamm-Rodríguez and Nadjah Ríos Villarini in conversation at the May 2019 institute

Framing language as a central site of social action, students will consider both the ideological formations that influence language policies and practices as well as the interactional perspectives that illustrate how language (de)constructs relational identities and social worlds, in the Caribbean and its diasporas.

Course Goals

  • Use sociolinguistic, sociocultural, and linguistic anthropological perspectives to explore language variation and use across the Caribbean and its diasporas.
  • Students study the dynamic nature of language within historical and contemporary processes
  • Challenge colonial origins of linguistic and geographic fragmentation by centering linguistic diversity

Students use diverse theoretical approaches to explore language variation in the Caribbean and Caribbean diasporas through a decolonizing perspective.

Outcomes & Deliverables

Reading responses that critically engage course topics, multimodal keyword definitions, genre study, speech communities digital presentation


Molly’s Course Syllabus

Find more information about Hamm-Rodríguez’s “Language & the Caribbean” course. (Shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license.)

Black Lives Will Not Matter Until Our Languages Also Matter

As part of the course, students are assigned this video lecture from Dr. Michel DeGraff, linguistics professor and director of the MIT-Haiti Initiative.

Projects and Courses

Digital Mapping Project & Presentation

Dr. Takkara Brunson (California State University, Fresno)

Students will generate their own topic on Black/African experiences on the continent or in the diaspora, and map major locations using StoryMaps.

Project Goals

  • Develop an original research project on Black/African experience on the continent or in the diaspora, focusing on issues of religion, gender, ethnic identity, precolonial or post-colonial society, politics music, or the visual arts
  • Map at least 7 locations related to the topic using StoryMaps
  • Make an argument about the topic to support the thesis
  • Make a traditional oral presentation of topic
  • Create a poster presentation of the map showing how it supports the thesis

Students draw on major themes from the course African Cultural Perspectives to identify and map the major issues, sites, and topics which speak to their own interests and thesis. The project incorporates StoryMap JS, allowing students to not only create a textual description of their topic, but visualize it by mapping the major locations and events which provide cultural context.

Outcomes & Deliverables

As the final project, students will create a StoryMap with a minimum of 7 locations, a poster which displays the map along with relevant descriptions and information, and share these products through a traditional oral presentation.


Digital Mapping Assignment

Read the full assignment description from Dr. Brunson’s African Cultural Perspectives course

Mapping & Timelines

Explore more digital mapping tools that can facilitate student creation of visual projects

Institute Reflection

Dr. Brunson summarizes her experience at the institute

Blog Posts Reflection

Reflection: Takkara Brunson

Dr. Takkara Brunson (Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, California State University, Fresno) describes how her institute experience provided her with digital mapping skills which she has since incorporated into her university courses.

The Caribbean Studies Digital Humanities Institute provided a rigorous introduction to the various digital platforms available for studying the region. Since the institute, I have incorporated map building into my African cultural perspectives course at California State University, Fresno. The course focuses broadly on the histories and cultures of the African Diaspora. We devote substantial attention to examining the Caribbean as part of the diaspora–notably, through units on slavery, cultural formations, and global political movements. During the fall 2019 semester, I incorporated a new assignment in which students were required to build a digital map on a topic of their choice. Students enthusiastically created maps that examined the spread of the Garvey Movement, Black Power in the Caribbean, and reggaeton music, among other topics. Having discussed what such an assignment might look like with other attendees during the institute, I integrated mapping assignments into class exercises throughout the semester; I made sure to allocate class time to building the maps. This resulted in one of the most rewarding experiences that I have had in leading students through research projects.

In addition to meeting scholars from across the U.S. and Caribbean, I appreciated the opportunity to learn about existing projects that demonstrated the potential of the digital humanities for connecting with public audiences. I spent years imagining ways to present my research on Black women in pre-revolutionary Cuba through a publicly accessible digital map. I now have the tools to do so.

Blog Posts Reflection

Reflection: Molly Hamm-Rodríguez

PhD candidate in Equity, Bilinguialism and Biliteracy Molly Hamm-Rodríguez (School of Education, University of Colorado Boulder) discusses how the Caribbean Digital Humanities Institute has helped her think about how to integrate digital tools and Caribbean intellectual thought throughout her teaching, research, and professional development work with schools and educators.

My initial application to CDHI was motivated by a desire to integrate digital tools into a collaborative storytelling project with Central Florida high school teachers and Puerto Rican students who had been displaced by Hurricane María. As a graduate student, I have found that culturally and linguistically responsive teaching for bilingual students is often promoted at a level of abstraction that does not support educators in deeply engaging with the transnational intellectual traditions, social movements, and texts that could provide a more critical and compelling learning experience. For this reason, I was excited to learn about the work of dLOC in producing and sharing teaching guides and K-12 lesson plans as well as delivering teacher training to ensure that Caribbean studies would become a more prominent part of classrooms. These materials have inspired the work that I have been planning as a result of my participation in CDHI.

I will use the CDHI experience to begin developing a university-level syllabus that engages with the Caribbean to investigate key issues of language, culture, and identity in the tradition of linguistic anthropology. The course would include the exploration and application of select digital tools, such as StoryMap JS, learned through CDHI. In addition, I plan to develop an outline for a K-12 teacher professional development workshop that would center the needs of emergent bilingual students from the Caribbean. This workshop would enable teachers focusing on language and literacy development to ground their lesson planning and instruction in historically responsive content that centers a range of socio-cultural and linguistic identities connected to the Caribbean.

During the in-person institute, I was inspired by the broad range of digital humanities work (teaching, research, and service) shared by other scholars. Seeing concrete examples of digital tools in action—applied across a variety of contexts—made it more feasible for me to consider implementing the tools in my own teaching and research. During the institute, I appreciated the opportunity to think expansively about digital tools, while also learning technical details so that I walked away with both new ideas and technological skills. I have found myself paying more attention to projects that engage these digital tools in creative ways, and I am especially interested in seeking out (and creating!) examples from my fields of education, anthropology, and linguistics.

Of course, when I participated in CDHI I could not have anticipated how the covid-19 pandemic would bring me face-to-face with an exponential increase in the need to use digital tools in my teaching and research. Not only am I teaching two courses per semester online, but I am also supporting K-12 teachers who are desperate for digital resources to facilitate a positive learning experience for students of all ages and levels of technology literacy. Indeed, my own dissertation research may need to incorporate digital ethnographic methods due to travel restrictions that have significantly delayed my work in the Dominican Republic. I am grateful for the network of support in CDHI participants and facilitators, and know that I have a place to turn to help me think creatively about the role of digital tools in times of great uncertainty and ongoing precarity.

Projects and Courses

Exploring Caribbean Literature through Archival Research & Creative Writing

Dr. Rosamond S. King (Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York)

The archive assignment for Caribbean Literature asks students to examine how historical constructions of race are reflected in photography.

Goals: Archive Assignments

  • Use online archives and databases to conduct image or photo research
  • Conduct photo analysis on chosen images
  • Consider the motivations and identity of the photographer, the photo’s context, and how race is depicted in the photos
  • Learn about metadata, and what the metadata reveals about the images
  • Bridge creative writing and analysis through poetry

Outcomes & Deliverables

  • An effective photo analysis of the chosen image, improved metadata for the chosen photograph, and an essay on the analysis and their chosen revisions to the metadata.
  • An original poem inspired by an archival photograph


Photo Analysis Assignment

Student assignment to analyze race and positionality in archival photographs. (Shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license.)

Poetry Archive Assignment

Guidelines for Dr. King’s unit assignment on writing ekphrastic poetry inspired by archival photographs. (Shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license.)

Caribbean Photo Archive

A rich collection of over 3,000 photographs amassed by archivist Patrick Montgomery, now held by the Art Gallery of Ontario

Tools and Topics

Minimal Computing

In a virtual session, Alex Gil (Digital Scholarship Librarian at Columbia University Libraries) discussed the value of minimal computing as a method of engaging digital humanities under constraints of software, network capacity, power, and other aspects.


The User, the Learner, & the Machines we Make

Alex Gil challenges scholars to ask themselves “How much do I need?” in terms of the technology they use in research and teaching, particularly in relation to concerns of research dissemination, access, and sustainability.

Design for Diversity: The Case of Ed

Alex Gil presents a case study on “Ed,” a system for producing online digital editions.


Wax is a resource which can be used to create scholarly exhibitions through a minimal computing process. Wax is an excellent tool for scholars who may not yet have access to or don’t want to use a lot of resources to create an exhibition.

The Command Line Crash Course

The Command Line Crash Course is a book providing a straightforward guide on how to use the command line to do basic computer programming. While not an exhaustive guide, it is meant to benefit beginners who have no previous programming experience.

HTML and CSS Courses on offers beginner-friendly online courses to learn HTML and CSS. These courses can support users who want to build a website, or simply enhance their digital literacy!

Projects and Courses

Storytelling through Oral History & Digital Timelines in a High School English Class

Dr. Erin Zavitz
(Bosque School)

We’re focusing on learning more about ordinary people’s lives and understanding how everyone has a story to tell even if it’s not one that makes it in a book.

Project Overview: Oral History

  • 10th Grade (private High School) English course project
  • Conduct an oral history interview with an individual of your choosing
  • Create an interview plan, including description of the narrator, interview location, interview technology, letter to the narrator, and questions
  • Obtain informed consent
  • Complete a video reflection in which you reflect on your experience and what you learned through the oral history interview

Outcomes & Deliverables

Students reflect on the importance of storytelling in the context of the texts they read in class, and acknowledge the importance of how we tell stories as well as how those stories get told.

In the past I have had students make their own timelines, but I’ve found that having too many people on one spreadsheet is a disaster. This time, I entered their data in Timeline JS and shared the versions with them for a peer review. . . By having them work in groups and share their work, they were more engaged with the entire process.

Project Overview: Timeline Biography

  • Group activity in which students create a timeline of William Shakespeare’s life in preparation for reading The Tempest
  • Conduct biographical research and compare important life events and their relevance
  • Data is entered in Timeline JS and reviewed by class

Outcomes & Deliverables

Students learn about Shakespeare’s life and the historical context when he lived, better understanding how he may have been influenced when writing The Tempest.


Oral History Assignment

Rationale and instructions for oral history assignment (Shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license.)

Shakespeare Timeline Assignment

Complete instructions for timeline assignment (Shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license.)

Tools & Topics: Oral History

Learn more about the oral history presentations from the 2019 institute, and find relevant resources

Blog Posts Reflection

Reflection: Jose Vazquez

Jose Vazquez (Associate Professor, School of Architecture and Interior Design, Miami Dade College) shares how the institute helped him incorporate digital humanities tools into his courses on history of architecture, as well as supported the completion of several grants which will allow him to continue engaging digital methods through fieldwork in the Miami area.

“In applying for the ODH NEH institute Caribbean Studies and Digital Humanities I was looking to strengthen my curriculum by learning about the Digital Humanities and its pedagogical applications in a Higher Education classroom. Indeed, the experience gained through the institute’s lectures, lessons, and my interactions with institute’s colleagues was transformational as it subsequently helped me fashioning a series of grants and teaching proposals after the conclusion of the institute.

The first entailed the development of a Fulbright Scholar teaching proposal entitled American Architecture and its Silenced stories (see attached syllabus). The course is intended to examine the history of American architecture to foster an understanding of United States contemporary cultural landscapes. Accordingly, United States’ built heritage will serve as a lens to analyze an assortment of landscapes, ranging from domestic to capitalist environments, and reflect on their impact in fashioning American identity. I am pleased to report that I was awarded the 2020-21 Fulbright Garcia Robles U.S. Studies Chair grant to teach this course at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico during the spring 2021.

My second project, Building Stories Documenting Miami’s Vernacular Architecture and Cultural Landscapes also incorporated DH as a central pedagogical component and was the recipient of this year M.D.C. President’s Innovation Fund award. This fieldwork project aims to document through digital media, oral histories, and building surveys, the historic community of West Village, a pioneering Bahamian immigrant settlement in Coconut Grove. The project will include the development of various community activities and an online exhibition in partnership with the Theodore R. Gibson Memorial Fund. The TRGMF is interested in preserving historic documents belonging to aging community members to help preserve an historical record that otherwise could be lost. Among the main priorities of the Building Stories project will be training our students to conduct oral interviews and digitalize material that can be used by local community members and historians. This project is intended to familiarize my students with action-based research and to provide training in Virtual Reality (VR) technology as a documentation strategy.

I am deeply indebted to the institute directors and its faculty for a learning experience that allowed me to reimagine my pedagogy and in doing so redefined the boundaries of my classroom.”

Blog Posts Reflection

Reflection: Laëtitia Saint-Loubert

Dr. Laëtitia Saint-Loubert (Université de la Reunión) shares her experience in learning how to better connect with her work in the Caribbean (even when not physically there) through the use of digital humanities.

Prior to the NEH Caribbean Studies and Digital Humanities Institute, I had very little digital knowledge. Attending the in-person session and doing the preliminary reading was extremely helpful in getting acquainted with the Digital Humanities and getting a sense of how it could be useful in relation to Caribbean Studies. During the Institute, learning about actual DH projects and doing hands-on activities further gave me a sense of what tools and platforms I could use in my own classes.

Connecting with fellow Caribbeanists transoceanically was one of my main motivations to attend the Institute. As I had been based at the Université de La Réunion, in the Indian Ocean, for two years, I felt very far away from the Caribbean, and really needed to reconnect with the region and form some new bonds with its scientific community. The Institute certainly helped me achieve that. In particular, I was very happy to work with fellow participant Anita Baksh on a connected classrooms project which we hope to implement in the next academic year. 

Reflecting back on the Institute also makes me think about the future. As we discussed the themes of “Mobility, Migration and Sustainability” together at the University of Florida and later on during the virtual sessions that were offered to us, I came to realize how most of the projects and digital tools that were presented during the Institute were both culture-bound and context-specific. Most of the digital platforms and tools were completely new to me and are hardly ever used in the French higher education system, where more interdisciplinary and cross-departmental bridges, particularly with IT teams and librarians, still need to be built. I particularly enjoyed the pan-Caribbean approach that was adopted for the Institute, although I noted that some areas, languages and communities were underrepresented in the presentations and discussions (I am thinking of the continental Caribbean and the Guyanas, for example, or parts of the Antilles). I also wish we had had more time to address the issue of sustainability and how the use of digital tools and repositories affects the environment. Similarly, I wonder whether we could prolong the discussion on the issues of uneven access and digital divides, particularly, although not exclusively from a Caribbean perspective. Surely, these are only a few of the many points that can keep the discussion going and help us continue to grow as a diverse community of international researchers. Thinking ahead, I would gladly contribute to future projects and continue to work together with colleagues at the intersection of Caribbean Studies and the Digital Humanities, as I feel there is still so much to learn, share and do.

Thank you all for this beautiful human adventure and for all the time and hard work you have dedicated to the Institute!

Tools and Topics

Mapping & Timelines

Tools mentioned most often in follow-up interviews after the institute included low-barrier options that students can use to bring together primary sources and analysis into interpretive timelines and maps.

StoryMap JS

StoryMap JS

A free online tool developed at the Northwestern University Knight Lab that allows you to share stories by highlighting locations related to specific events. Upload images, videos, text, or other media to create an educational, virtual resource.

Example project

Colorado State student Samantha Slenker created “Indigenous Language and Society in America.”

Example project

Digital Library of the Caribbean fellow Stephanie Chancy created “dLOC and Its Partners.”

Google My Maps

Google My Maps

Users can create and share their own maps based on particular locations and themes. My Maps can be used via computer, Android, or iPhone and iPad.

Video tutorial

Teacher Meghan Vestal offers an excellent overview of Google My Maps and how it can be used in the classroom in this 7-minute video.

Example project

In “Using Digital Tools to Explore Collective Memory,” Kelsey McNiff, Endicott College, describes an assignment for students to visualize U.S. Holocaust memorials.