Talk: Angel David Nieves, March 4, 2016, 12 PM


Poster for Angel David Nieves

Event information:

Join DigLibArts and Whittier College as we welcome Angel David Nieves (Associate Professor & Co-Director, Digital Humanities initiative, Research Associate Professor, History Department, WITS at Hamilton College) for his talk, entitled, “Geospatial Visualizations of Testimony: Developing a Social Justice Platform for Digital Humanities.”

Talk Abstract:


Not every physical space or site of trauma from apartheid-era South Africa endures, yet the ones that do become symbolic of that difficult period in history. However, few studies have considered the historical significance of South African townships and the sites of trauma as extant physical artifacts of a difficult past. It is without dispute that the morning of June 16, 1976 that marked the beginning of the Soweto Uprising is an exemplary moment in the “common officializing memory” of South Africa’s black townships. Then, Black African students marching to protest the adoption of Afrikaans as the primary language of instruction for schools in Johannesburg’s “South Western Townships” (S-O-W-E-T-O) were gunned down by members of the South African police and security forces.

Over the past decade, scholars and community leaders have experimented with the use of new digital technologies to tell the history of the Uprisings. Technologies now at our disposal can allow us to layer victim testimony using multiple tools for mapping, text mining, and 3D visualizations. Digital humanities may actually help reconstruct and recover a history that is still very early in the telling, despite the conventional wisdom of the liberation struggle (particularly the “liberation-struggle-industry”). The layering of the many narratives also helps lay bare the messiness of archive-making, the methodologies of digital ethnography, and the endangered nature of archives across South Africa related to the Uprisings.


When: Friday, March 4, 2016, 12PM

Where: Villalobos Hall

Reception to follow the talk.

About Professor Angel David Nieves:

Angel David Nieves is an Associate Professor at Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y. and is co-director of Hamilton’s Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi) ( He is also the Director of the American Studies Program and is a founding member of the Cinema and Media Studies (CNMS) concentration. His articles have appeared in, among others, The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy; The Journal of Planning History; The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics; Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies; and in several edited volumes, including Places of Pain and Shame: Dealing With Difficult Heritage (Routledge, 2009) and The Afterlife of Iconic Planned Communities: Heritage, Preservation, and Challenges of Change, (UPenn Press, 2017). He was also the Associate Editor, of Fire!!!: A Multimedia Journal of Black Studies. He is on the Board of Directors of the Africa Network, a consortium of national liberal arts colleges that actively promotes the study of Africa through scholarship and teaching. He was also advising on the permanent exhibit, “The Power of Place,” for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture scheduled to open in 2016. Hamilton’s DHi has been funded by $1.75 million in grants from the Mellon Foundation In 2014 Dr. Nieves was awarded (w/Alyson Gill/UMass-Amherst) an NEH Office of Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant of $59,510 for “Dangerous Embodiments: Theories, Methods, and Best Practices for Historical Character Modeling in Humanities 3D Environments.” In 2015 he was awarded an NEH Office of Digital Humanities Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities Summer Institutes Grant (w/Kim Gallon/Purdue) of $245,299. for “Space and Place in Africana/Black Studies: An Institute on Spatial Humanities Theories, Methods and Practice.” Nieves’ scholarly work and community-based activism critically engages with issues of race and the built environment in cities across the Global South.