The event Open Access Web Platform Workshops is supported by the Faculty of Libreral Arts & Professional Studies Graduate Research Events Fund. The event emerges from the collaboration between Graduate Assistant Sarah York-Bertram; the Director of Digital Scholarship Infrastructure at York University’s Libraries’ (YUL) Digital Scholarship Centre (DSC), Anna St. Onge; Digital Scholarship Librarian Kris Joseph of YUL’s DSC; Digital Humanities practitioner and author of “Playin’ Mas, Play and Mas | A Pedagogical Journey of Children in Caribana,” Denise Challenger; Conjugal Slavery in War (CSiW) Partnership Project Coordinator Véronique Bourget and Project Director Prof. Annie Bunting; authors, activists, and researchers Grace Acan and Evelyn Amony, whose stories are featured in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) exhibit Ododo Wa: Stories of Girls in War; and CMHR curator, Isabelle Masson.
This event draws from user knowledge and experience cultivated by graduate and undergraduate students involved with the development of “Ododo Wa: Community Dialogues” Scalar Platform, CSiW Graduate Assistants Sarah York-Bertram, Zhi Ming Sim, Research Assistant Andrea González, and undergraduate researcher Lorenzo Seravalle.
Ododo Wa: Stories of Girls in War
“Ododo Wa” means “Our Stories” in the Acholi language of Northern Uganda. In 2019, the CMHR, in collaboration with the CSiW Partnership launched “Ododo Wa: Stories of Girls in War,” an exhibit centered on the stories of two girls, Grace Acan and Evelyn Amony, who were abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army. This exhibit focuses on the issue of girls in war, of girls’ experiences of abduction, and the issue of forced marriage during war. The exhibit employs a survivor-centered approach, bringing about conversations of justice and reparations for survivors. A traveling version of the exhibit, titled “Ododo Wa: Ododo pa anyira ikare me lweny” was launched in Uganda in December 2019 and supported by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Connection Grant. This exhibit sought to tell the stories of survivors in their own communities and to develop community dialogues about survivors’ needs, justice and reparations.
In fall 2019, the “Ododo Wa Community Dialogues” Scalar platform began its early stages of development. The Scalar web platform, which was also supported by the SSHRC Connection Grant, was developed to track responses to the exhibit and to bring the traveling exhibit online. The platform organizes original digital content emerging from the exhibit launch and Community Dialogues events associated with the travelling version of the exhibit, reflections from those involved with the exhibit and its associated events. It features emergent themes of healing, justice, and reparations for survivors of war centering the voices and experiences of Acan, Amony, and their communities. Although the “Ododo Wa Community Dialogues” Scalar platform originally set out to be a digital companion to the traveling exhibit, new collaborative opportunities for the development of the Scalar platform emerged due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the SSHRC Connection Grant’s extension.
Through 2020 and 2021, the CSiW Scalar team worked closely with Grace Acan, Evelyn Amony, and CSiW project partner Juliet Adoch to develop content and reflections about their experiences presenting the exhibit. The team engaged in the combined use of Northwestern University’s Knight Lab, a suite of online storytelling tools, with the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture’s (ANVC) Scalar project. Through the use of Knight Lab’s TimelineJS tool and the StoryMapJS tool, which are compatible with ANVC’s Scalar as third-party platforms, the team developed a timeline contextualizing the exhibit and a map of the journey of the “Ododo Wa” Traveling Exhibit. Original content emerging from analysis of perspectives on, and responses to, the exhibit from survivors, the media, project partners, affected communities, and the public are also published.
Through the SSHRC Connection Grant, the team used Scalar in a novel way. Similar to the “Ododo Wa” exhibit, the “Ododo Wa Community Dialogues” Scalar platform is situated within a survivor-centered approach. Within this approach, this Scalar platform’s content is informed by survivors’ perspectives, and seeks to support storytelling processes and environments that focus on survivors’ needs, their voices and their leadership towards justice and reparations. By contributing and expanding community dialogues on issues of justice and reparations for survivors, the “Ododo Wa: Community Dialogues” platform operates in a novel, community-facing way that encourages knowledge mobilization towards policy change that addresses the needs of survivors.
By annotating images, using videos, audio files, or plain text, the CSiW Scalar team created a digital exhibit that brings to life the exhibit’s artifacts, the stories of survivors through the voices of Acan and Amony, and perspectives of those involved in Community Dialogues in association with the exhibit. Likewise, by using the path feature, the team created mini narratives through the materials and perspectives featured on the platform. The tag feature supports non-linear visualizations of the platform’s emergent themes. Through these open access tools, the team connects parts of the digital exhibit with a respective analytical piece that would delve deeper into the issue of girls in war, justice and reparations. These are only some of the features that will be discussed in these workshops and accompanying booklet. In the remainder of this introduction, we will review the purpose and uses of the Scalar and the KnightLab platforms; the goals of the workshop; and finally, the desired learning outcomes.
Playin’ Mas, Play and Mas | A Pedagogical Journey of Children in Caribana
Denise Challenger was the coordinator of the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa and its Diasporas (Tubman). Her Scalar platform emerged from a unique collaboration between Tubman, the York University Libraries, the Office of the Vice-Provost Academic, the Center for Refugee Studies (CFR), the York Centre of Asian Research (YCAR), and the Center for Research on Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLAC). The project was funded by the Academic Innovation Fund (AIF) and the Digital Humanities and Social Sciences for Teaching and Learning.
Through the “Playin’ Mas, Play and Mas” Scalar platform, Challenger developed a digital archive, an undergraduate digital history assignment, and photo essay that described and analysed childrens’ experiences during the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, more commonly known as “Caribana.” Her experiences and insights were documented in a guide, designed to support faculty interested in incorporating digital content into courses, curriculum development, best practices for digitization and digital content curation.
In 2014, the Harriet Tubman Institute accepted Kenneth Neamath Shah’s personal photos, meeting minutes, design sketches, film reels, newspaper clippings, pamphlets and ephemera related to Caribana. This workshop will centre on the transformation of a photo negative to a digital image and explore best practices in terms of scanning, annotating, and labelling photos in Scalar. Thematic considerations include metadata creation, community engagement, and civic collaborations.