Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Doctoral Candidate Joshua Ortiz Baco Uses Digital Humanities to Connect the Public to Cultural Heritage

Wed, November 20, 2019
Doctoral Candidate Joshua Ortiz Baco Uses Digital Humanities to Connect the Public to Cultural Heritage

Joshua Ortiz Baco is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in our department from Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. His dissertation project analyzes the circulation of 19th-century discourses of race and citizenship between Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico and their diasporas in the US. He focuses on abolitionist periodicals and the supranational networks that affected national debates on race and freedom as expressed through international exchanges in the press. His project is informed by a mixed methodology from cultural studies and digital humanities that explores the intersection of technology, national memory, and cultural heritage institutions.

Joshua explains, "My work is guided by the belief that cultural patrimony needs to be democratized and that work from within academia should provide the tools to bridge the gap between the general public and cultural heritage institutions. In accessing and engaging with cultural objects we gain a better understanding of the invisibilized processes and ideas that still continue to impact how we experience and talk about concrete matters like blackness or colonialism. I am particularly excited about the use of digital tools in shaping these conversations because they provide the opportunity of flipping the script and making individuals into contributors to both the canonical and digital cultural record."

Joshua is also a lab manager in the Digital Scholarship Office at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection. "The best project at the Benson so far was my work with the Poster Collection from the Colección Conflicto Armado housed in the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen that was digitized by the Latin American Digital Initiatives at LLILAS Benson," he shares. "I created a dataset from the 394 images and then I taught a workshop for the ILASSA conference that used computational methods to visualize this collection as a whole. I also translated that workshop in order to make it accessible to students that work in the Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen in El Salvador."

Joshua's peer-reviewed tutorial, "Introducción a ImagePot y la visualización de metadatos de colecciones de imágenes," is forthcoming in The Programming Historian, a multi-lingual collection of accessible lessons about programming and software.

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