Project Proposal (NGOs and The Aid Industrial Complex)

By Tracey Daway

How genuine is the Aid we receive from these foreign superpowers?  Is it a statement or a tactic? What really is happening with the NGOs and the aid that goes through their hands to the recipients?  In this project, I have many questions to answer but the central focus will be on the corruption, existent or non-existent linked to foreign and local aid.  Should we be so welcoming of the help or scrutinize them a bit closer? While I think it is good that we receive assistance continually following the recent tragedies that befell our island a couple years back, who is it really ‘good’ for?

I intend on using both qualitative and quantitative research methods to put together my project.  Qualitative research involves the scientific method of observation to gather non-numerical data. This type of data refers to the meanings, concepts definitions, characteristics, metaphors, symbols, and description of things.  Quantitative research refers to measurement, it supplies the fundamental link to qualitative data to bring it all together. Quantitative data can take the form of statistics or percentages, to name a couple. I would also like to clearly outline the various roles and positions several local and regional NGOs play here on the island.  To see if they have been keeping to the vision and ideals and if not, why. Are they having a positive impact on our current situation economically and emotionally?

DH Review: A Tale of Two Plantations

  A Tale of Two Plantations, this project is about the lifestyle of seven multi-generational families in Mesopotamia and Mount Airy.  Richard Dunn found a parallel between these two plantations and took it upon himself to further this research on the plantation in the midst of his book work.  The Mesopotamia plantation was located in Jamaica whereas the Mount Airy plantation was located in Virginia. In the Caribbean there has always been a huge presence of slaves, which could indicate the living conditions may not have been ideal or passable.  This may shed light on the fact that between the years of 1762 – 1833, there were 331 recorded slave deaths on the Mesopotamia plantation. I think the question that propelled Richard’s research is, “Why are so many slaves dying so quickly on the Caribbean Plantation?” 

     On the website, the information presents as a breakdown of the plantations’ ancestral lines, their direct lineage and probed the numerous difficulties they faced. Dunn includes diagrams, analysis, biographies and the immediate familial relations each slave had around the time of death.  There’s also notable events that took place on the plantation to give a clearer picture of the slaves’ in Jamaica’s’ daily plight.  The user interface of the website is simple and easy to use, it flows together.  Aesthetically its pleasing to look at and the color ways are suiting in light of the research and information presented. It is easy to navigate the site as someone who is new to all this information, I had no issues finding my way around.  The typography was legible and clear to understand, the pages were all organized and properly sorted. As you scroll you’re shown all the information documented with the exception of the family lists and trees of each plantation which is on a separate page.

     The digital humanities tools being used are the 3D modelling and mapping; the 3D modelling allows for the reconstruction of the past and future and the mapping tool would have been used for database mapping, spatial mapping and aerial. I do not think there are any issues with the presentation of the information in the project, it is cohesive and comprehensible with regards to the question(s).  The site is user friendly and the experience on the site is pleasant, I have no qualms.  However, in terms of the scope of the research, I feel that Dunn could have gone a bit further to include information about the health of the mothers on the Mesopotamia plantation to give further insight and understanding into the rampant death level, as well as their almost exact living conditions.

Climate Signs

By Tracey Daway

Mind over matter, widely used and moreover extremely misused and understood. The phrase, simply, means that to change your reality you must first change your way of thinking, your mind. Climate change is as real as the oxygen we breathe, which is also affected by climate change as recent falling levels indicate from ‘www.Oceana.com’. Similarly, but different to Emily Raboteau’s son, at the age of 5 I has a vested interest in the environment, at the time, like her son I did not fully grasp the complexities of climate change but I saw the signs with my little eyes. I have always had a passion for helping people, I am not a superhero, nor a self-made billionaire able to build schools in Africa or any other rich cliché. The only thing between saving the world and destroying it, are humans. Saving the world can be a reality, it is very reachable. Life is unfair, many persons today are born into situations they cannot get away from. To escape the evils of this world, namely climate change, one first needs to understand their situation and how dangerous it can be to sit back and take no action. We may think that abstaining from environmentally harmful practices that we are doing good, but standing on the sidelines in my opinion is just the same as doing bad. We need to take affirmative action, we need to educate the people, change their minds and their perception to show them what is really happening. The people need to see the signs and acknowledge them as well. Climate change needs to be recognized for what it is and make a plan to fight the problem.

“Climate denial kills,” this phrase really hit me, and I hope it reaches more eyes and sparks a chain reaction. What will the world look like for our future generations? Will the air still be breathable? Will there be enough land above water to inhabit? What does the future look like fifty years from now? Do you see the signs?

CHILDREN OF MEN

By Tracey Daway

The film “Children of Men” was released in September 22, 2006.  Aside from the fact that it was the financial flop, nothing else about the film was a disappointment.  The film takes place in England in the year 2027, 18 years after a worldwide infertility epidemic has made human reproduction impossible. This no doubt led to global unrest and a refugee epidemic in Britain, which also happens to be the one of the last functioning governments.  In response to the recent terrorism and uprising the United Kingdom has become an authoritarian regime.

In life, at times to see the bigger picture we must retrace our steps, look back and break down things from the end to start.  At the end of the film, Theo (Clive Owen) is seen leaving on a boat with Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), he reveals to her that he is shot and has been bleeding out for an unknown amount of time; clearly he is going to die.  Throughout the film he has been headstrong and hopeful and resilient in spite of everything going on around him. He was a symbol of perseverance, it can be said that he represented the hidden hopes of the people, the fear and rebellious outward nature tucked away their true feelings for their global situation.  However, the significance of the hopeful Theo about to die at the end, sort of seals the newborn’s fate, the baby will live on be the next symbol of hope in a hopeless world. All is not lost.

Alfonso Cuaron, the Director of the film employs his habit of long shots in this film, it gives a sense of heightened realism. This makes it easier for viewers to connect to the scenes an feel the emotions conveyed, the anguish of the people and the confusion and misery.

Also, it’s important to note that an underlying subtexts in this movie is religion, it is not clear to me whether it is pro or anti religion but there are religious themes.  Faith was a key factor in the activism Theo and Julian had a part in during their youth. The Bible contains a list of stories about people needing salvation; Noah and the Flood, Moses freeing the Jews, Jesus dying for humanity to save us from the burden of our sins; we can parallel this to “Children of men”.  The world requires redemption yet again, as women have become infertile and society is run by a dour authoritarian regime. In the beginning we meet Theo, he is cynical and apathetic, like many others he has becomes a product of the current society he dwells in. Theo’s name is important, it is Greek in origin and translates loosely to “relating to God or deities,” but he seems to be just the opposite of this when we first meet him.  Hopeless, weak, feeble and fearful running and cringing from violence. However, as the movie goes on his character develops quite a bit to where we see him finding himself and his strength when he becomes responsible for getting pregnant Kee safely Tomorrow. Kee’s name is ironic because she turns out to be the ‘key’ to humanity’s survival. When Theo asks who is the father of Kee’s child, she at first jokes that she is a virgin, but then answers that she isn’t sure who the father is. While this is a reference to promiscuity, it also recalls Jesus, who had an unknown and unearthly Father.  In this scene, Theo plays the protecting Joseph to Kee’s Mary, with that unborn child being a new Jesus, the savior of the human race.

DIGITAL HUMANITIES PROJECTS

By Tracey Daway

Through this course, the what and how of the work digital humanists do are always being mentioned.  The purpose of the work humanists do is usually with the aim of accomplishing something. The reaction that ended with the creation of a project, an urge, a want, an idea or deep inspiration.  In the article, “What we think we build” by William G. Thomas, he makes reference to scholar Jerome McGann – “ what we think we will build and what we build are often quite different, and unexpectedly so. Our minds are such powerful things, limitless in a multitude of ways, although perfection is unattainable in the physical world, that isn’t the same for our minds.  Where we can wake up one day and fly to the top of the Eiffel Tower to find unicorns and fairies, then teleport to the top of Mount Everest and end the day watching the sunset; this could be a perfect day in our mind. However, what we think, many times is not always possible nor does it abide by the laws of reality. Translating boundless uninhibited works of the mind into this physical world will encounter many obstacles, issues and road blocks. As hard as one may try, what we envision our final project as humanists to be will only ever be the tip of the iceberg, the shadow to a mountain.  McGann’s proposition is that, if you have produced what you visualised, maybe you haven’t quite ‘created’ anything yet. As projects progress, there are revelations, additions, changes and revisions constantly being made. It is difficult to say with confidence, but where digital humanist are concerned with project production we will always fall short in one way or another. There’s always more to be done but never enough time, if time was infinite so would be our projects and there would be no end product, no ‘creation’. Endings come before beginnings and so what we think won’t measure up to what we build.  Will there always be pieces and fragments lost in the translation?

Is this the narrative that we should push?

By Tracey Daway

The articles I have read seem to narrow in on one word, resilience.  Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties.  Dominica, the nature Isle of the Caribbean has always been seen and spoke of as a tough country.  Tough in the sense that the people and our culture are very concentrated, we are hard working and diligent and we’ve prided ourselves on numerous occasions using that narrative. This has been proven, seen and documented over the years where we have bounced back from a multitude of devastating hits, one almost more damaging than the previous.  

In 1979, Dominica was roughly ambushed by David, a category four hurricane, travelling at a staggering 280 km/h there was no escape for an inch of greenery nor residency on the island. I have heard numerous stories of David from many aunts and uncles, grandparents and even my parents, who were old enough to remember that terrible day.  On all accounts, it was life changing, terribly frightening and shocking. To know that it happened in 1979, where buildings now and buildings then hugely differed in structure and integrity and quantity, i can only imagine the level of devastation our people lived through with David. I cannot begin to fathom the mental and emotional aftermath that remains residual within our people after nearly four decades. David killed 40 people also garnering a whopping 1.5 billion in damages to the island overall.  David has been on record, one of the most damaging hurricanes to impact our island, but look at our parents, our grandparents, aunts and uncles, our brothers and sisters, they are here. They have built lives upon the ruins and wreckage, they have raised children to leave on their legacy and they have had to start from scratch and they have continued to provide for their families. This is testament to the strong, withstanding and resiliency our nation is often praised for by islanders and outsiders alike.  Therefore, it goes without saying we know we are strong, we have had time and time again to prove it we don’t ask for reminders or assurance. Pushed to our knees, we have stood in the face of adversity. As strong our people are, we are also human and where there is strength there will be weakness and vulnerability. To this day, there are families and people who still live in the aftermath and effects of the past systems that have devastated our island, psychically, financially, emotionally and mentally these people have not recovered or gotten past the trauma.  To the people who have survived this with their health intact i would like to extend my apologies for us having to take on these burdens and living with them – also I would like to say thank you, for keeping that constant narrative that we as Dominicans are strong, we will not stay down.

On September 18, 2017 a thief came in the middle of the night to steal our piece of mind, for who knows how long.  That night people stood helpless, trapped, as they witnessed their lives fall apart before them, literally and figuratively.  Lives steeped in sacrifice and hard work and time, years, decades, all gone within a matter of hours. Mentally and emotionally people are still traumatised from that night.  The morning after, the breaking dawn brought with it the ugliest shock, catastrophic, unprecedented, undocumented, never before seen damage. No one really knew how to react, confusion, disorientation, cannot accurately represent the feelings of those who survived that night.  The island was in a state of mass confusion and chaos as people’s shock began to surface in numerous unhealthy ways that remained for weeks and months to come. However, I feel that this strong, tough, ‘go-get-it’ attitude that we constantly push puts immense pressure on people to rise above their human reaction to pain and loss and that is to feel.  We get so caught up in praising the strength of our people but take no time to let people feel their feelings, and be weak, be hurt, grieve, process and understand what happened, learn how to cope with it and move on from it. We demonise weakness and fragility of one’s mental abilities. It’s important to know, as strong as someone may be, they have their weak points.  While it may be great to praise where praise is due, but it is even greater to acknowledge and mention and speak about the events that changed our lives without mention of recover. Let people feel, let people be where they are now. The main dialogue centred around Maria was biased, where it minimised and trivialised to an extent people’s experience to an extent. Dr. Esprit’s article spoke to me, two lines that resonated deeply with me were; “There is no place greener in the Caribbean than Dominica. None. I revise that. There was no place greener in the Caribbean than Dominica…. before September 18, 2017” and, “It worries me that the trauma has already been repressed in exchange for the narrative of development.”  Dealing with our trauma is essential to growth as a nation to bring us to combat climate change and climate resilience. Commitments and promises are placing undue pressure on every one of us here and I feel its too big a step to take, smaller steps will get us there and minimise the pressure, we already have our unresolved trauma to deal with as it is. We are thinking too far ahead.  We have to open to be able to grow, a seed has to open to sprout.

The Workings Under The Hood

Cells are the building blocks of life itself, the essence of every single human on this planet.  Just as cells create us, DH projects are similar in that they have key blocks that are necessary to create a ‘life’.  These blocks are called the front end and the back end, the front end is essentially the polished finished external view that is presented to the public eyes of the scholarly world.  However, the back end is made up of servers, browsers, databases, search engines, processing programs and networks as well as the user experience; as I read on the article. “ Analysis of DH Projects.”  

A, B and C, or as they are known globally, the ABCs of the alphabet.  These letters come together to create words, words are essential to everyone involved in the world of digital humanity regardless of their expertise.  Communication is important, words come together to create communication whether it be good, bad, explanations or directions, words create. At the beginning , middle and end of every project or task, Trevor Owens, in his article “Please Write it Down: Design and Research in Digital Humanities”; frequent mention is made to the importance of proper documentation of projects.  Documentation serves as a guide for the next step, looking back on past steps taken and many more reasons. Without documentation, did we really do that thing? Did Mae Carol Jemison really become the first person of color to travel in space back in 1992? Words are a digital humanists most reliable tool and over the course of this class I hope to develop this tool of mine through reading and observation.  Writing is an important part of any process.

Beginning this journey to becoming a digital humanist, my peers and I will be exposed to various tools to use, this includes various software such as Omeka.  Omeka provides open-source web publishing platforms for sharing digital collections and creating media-rich online exhibits.

by Tracey Daway

Inches away for us but a world away for many

By Tracey Daway

My oldest and vaguest memory has always been blurry to detail but has always been centered around help.  Helping other people has been my biggest motivation in life.  I’m not a superhero, nor am i a self made billionaire, yet, so it is very impractical and unreachable to want to save each person on this planet.  However, each person on this earth was made equal, although when you talk about birth you have to mention life and life is unfair.  Life is unfair, many persons today are born into unstable social, economical and financial situations they cannot get away from.  To escape the evils of this world one first needs to understand their situation, recognise it for what it is and make a plan to elevate to a better situation.  The problem with that is how few people realise their situation and how dangerous it can be simply from a system of oppression and lack of education. 

 Education is the key to life and success, whether that be a traditional education or a non traditional one.  Digital humanities in my opinion is the ‘glue’ that brings together education and people, it bridges the gap created by many societies around the world that prevent thousands, possibly millions from achieving a decent solid education.  It makes it possible and reachable for any individual, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, gender, financial background, social standing and sexual orientation to access a world of knowledge at their fingertips.  Digital humanities is a tool, it gives access to a network of knowledge, individuals and creators who are invloved in various humanity based areas, such as Literature, Sociology and Psychology to name a few.  It allows persons to consume aswell as create an share their own personal knowledge and insight.  

Technology has benefited humanity in many ways, it make learning a more engaging, interesting and flexible activity and therefore is able to reach a wider population of learners and students.  This is well known that each student learns and receives information taught differently, be it auditory, visual or sensory, technology makes learning attainable to a wider population and it assists many teachers in the classroom to cater to multiple methods of teaching.  Watching television does not allow me to leave a comment, or change it into my own words nor talk with the creator.  Social networks allow me to not only consume knowledge but create and produce my own.  Interacting and engaging with other people on the social webs allow me to think in ways i never would consider had i stuck to traditional old school education and learning methods.   However, with positives there will always be negative.  While technology assists those of us with different learning abilities it weakens our fellow learners who are already struggling.  With writing for example, penmanship was a staple traditional subject taught in schools across the globe and in the wake of technology coming into the classroom this traditional subject is being seen as old fashioned and medieval to some extent by many school students and even teachers who go as far as to remove it from the curriculum.  I do believe that in the future society will find a way to balance the old and the new as technology advances, not all that is dated should be lost and not all that is found should be kept, I’m Tracey Daway and this is just a brief collective of my thoughts on the articles i have read.