KU Digital Humanities Forum 2019

The 9th Annual University of Kansas Digital Humanities Forum “Bodies | Justice | Futures” was held at KU on October 3 – 4, 2019.

Opening Keynote: Janet Chávez Santiago, Oaxaca, Mexico, “Indigenous Language and Culture Visibility in the Digital Age: Examples from Zapotec Activism,” Oct. 3

Janet Chávez Santiago discussed the challenges and rewards of piloting a Zapotec course for second language learners, in her native Teotitlán del Valle, in the absence of teaching materials. In response to this barrier, she has collaborated with Zapotec speakers, since 2013, to produce an online talking dictionary. She has also authored children’s books in Zapotec and been invited to read them in pre-schools. Her presentation provided a vital model for developing similar language preservations projects and it coincided with the UNESCO Year of Indigenous Languages (IY2019).

Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec Talking Dictionary


The DH Forum 2019 featured multiple keynotes, several panels, lightning talks, and a digital showcase.

A highlight of the first day was multimedia artist Jason Zeh’s sound performance astto to me wor and worther.


Keynote: Julian C. Chambliss, Professor of English at Michigan State University, “Mapping the Black Imaginary: Race, Space, and Power,” Oct. 4

Julian C. Chambliss gave an inspirational paper in which he discussed oral histories and the origin and meaning of the label Afro-Futurism. Chambliss demonstrated how the digital humanities can be used to frame a more fluid understanding of the past. He also highlighted several projects that have used data visualization, network analysis, and text recovery. During the Q&A, he made the important point that the term “digital humanities” has undergone a significant redefinition–the digital humanities are about providing access to information and there is no longer a certain technical benchmark that must be met.


Two strong and particularly compelling papers were given by students Leia Yen and Allie Martin.

Leia Yen presented “Digital Syria: Decolonizing Digital Texts of the Syrian Refugee Crisis through Hypermediated Reading and Design” (*Undergraduate Student Paper Award!)

Digital Syria

Allie Martin presented “Long Live Chocolate City: Sonic Justice in a Gentrifying DC” (*Graduate Student Paper Award!)

Allie Martin: Musical and Sonic Dimensions of Gentrification

For more on the speakers and conference see the DH Forum 2019 webpage.