Critical Engagements with Race, Memory, and the Built Environment:
A Primer for the Digital Humanities


October 14, 2015
3:00-4:00 pm
90 Snell Library
Reception to follow at the Digital Scholarship Commons

Angel David Nieves, Ph.D.
Associate Professor & Co-Director, Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi)
Hamilton College, Clinton, NY


Despite the narrative that has long been associated with the Mandela House at 8115 Vilakazi Street, in Soweto, Johannesburg, a very different story must now be told if we are to truly understand the role of women including Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former wife of Nelson Mandela, played in the eventual collapse of the white-minority led apartheid-era government in South Africa between 1948 and 1994.  Any attempt at a critical discourse of Winnie’s story is not without great controversy or debate.  However, a re-framing of the spatial history of this house and the larger township where Winnie and Nelson Mandela once lived with their children – while both were actively engaged in a massive social movement that fostered Black Consciousness, Pan Africanism, and Afro-futurism, and throughout the almost thirty-year period of Nelson’s “incarceration” – is now urgently needed.  This public lecture will look critically at the influence of feminist geographers, critical race theory, and the fields of digital ethnography and feminist GIS on the spatial history of Soweto’s liberation struggle through a series of digital humanities projects over the last decade.  The talk explores the building of a multimodal information environment to discuss Soweto’s past, present, and future redevelopment – all as part of a new series of cultural practices of remembrance, reconciliation and empowerment with a view towards an integrative approach to social justice and the practice of digital humanities scholarship.

After the talk, there will be a joint DSG and NULab project showcase after the talk in the Digital Scholarship Commons, second floor of Snell Library. For more information, visit 

Angel David Nieves is an Associate Professor at Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y., USA.  He is currently Co-Director of Hamilton’s Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi), funded by $1.75 million in grants from the Mellon Foundation (  His articles have appeared in journals including The Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy; The Journal of Planning History; The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics; and in several edited volumes, including Places of Pain and Shame: Dealing With Difficult Heritage (Routledge, 2009) and The Afterlife of Iconic Planned Communities: Heritage, Preservation, and Challenges of Change, (UPenn Press, 2015).  The National Trust will include his essay, “Digital Reconstruction as Preservation: Alternative Methods of Practice for Difficult and Lost Histories of the African American Past”ina forthcoming publication marking the NationalHistoric Preservation Act’s 50th Anniversary.  He is also an advisor to the permanent exhibit, “The Power of Place,” for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture scheduled to open in 2015.  Nieves’s scholarly work and community-based activism critically engage with issues of race and the built environment in cities across the Global South.  In 2014 he was awarded an NEH Office of Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant of $59,510 (w/Alyson Gill, then of Arkansas State University) for “Dangerous Embodiments: Theories, Methods, and Best Practices for Historical Character Modeling in Humanities 3D Environments.”  In summer 2015 he was awarded an NEH Office of Digital Humanities Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities Summer Institutes Grant (w/Kim Gallon of Purdue University) of $245,299. for “Space and Place in Africana/Black Studies: An Institute on Spatial Humanities Theories, Methods and Practice.”