Mapping Asian American Narratives: Conception and Collaboration in D.H. Classes

Since the academic year is coming to an end, I want to take the time to reflect on the conception and collaboration that gets into the creation of classes in D.H. pedagogy. I think that in this case, it’s important to know how the sausage gets made to demystify the complexity surrounding D.H. classes and encourage more partnership across faculty and universities.

This year has truly been the year where all my Digital Humanities interests have aligned in a fruitful constellation at the intersection of my own research and pedagogy. On top of being a HASTAC scholar since October 2021, I became a DEFcon mentor in February 2022. The Digital Ethnic Futures Consortium is a “national consortium of digital ethnic studies practitioners led by Roopika Risam (Salem State University), Sonya Donaldson (New Jersey City University), Jamila Moore Pewu (California State University, Fullerton), Toniesha Taylor (Texas Southern University), and Keja Valens (Salem State University). Through events, professional development, networking opportunities, and a regranting program, we support the work of faculty, librarians, and students who are undertaking research and teaching at the intersections of digital humanities and ethnic studies fields.” You can find more information here:

I have been partnered with DEFCon Fellow Dr. Cathlin Goulding who teaches at CUNY, San José State University, and Teachers College, Columbia University as well as co-directs the Yuri education project. She studies public memory, place-based learning, and teaching historical violence focused on Asian American narratives and more specifically the World War II internment of Japanese American citizens in the West. Together we are designing an Asian American history/ social studies class for future educators in public schools. The class is meant to provide an overview of AAPI history and communities to help implement AAPI studies in classroom’s curriculum across the country.

My role in this collaboration is understanding which Digital Humanities tools would be most conducive to teach the content and outlining digital assignments. Dr. Goulding shared some of the AAPI platforms and digital repositories she uses such as Freedom of access, intuitiveness to navigate and sustainability are at the heart of our concerns for the class, so we only use free platforms and software. I have introduced Dr. Goulding to the four cores of D.H. that I have expertise in: mapping, network analysis, storytelling and text analysis. After seeing the content for the class, I devised several potential digital assignments for each module in the class. For example, there are several analog, sometimes even hand drawn maps in the repository which would make for a great mapping project where the students could create a digital version that displays historical facts and data from these Japanese American internment camps in 1945.

The way we collaborate helps us understand where each other is coming from and we have created a space where her content and my digital methodology truly mesh harmoniously. I really think that this type of collaboration across disciplines and universities shows that there is so much potential in partnership to develop more D.H. centered classes and altogether integrate Digital Humanities in the curriculum.