(Dis)placed Urban Histories

(Dis)Placed Urban Histories

Rebecca Amato
Spring 2017

(Dis)Placed Urban Histories invites students to become historians in their own right, by producing primary historical sources. The Spring 2017 iteration of the course encouraged students to conduct archival and secondary research, produce collaborative oral histories with neighborhood residents and business owners, and meet with activists who are working to protect the interests of the current community of Melrose, in the South Bronx. WHEDco (Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation) participated in class discussions, as well as in the collection of history done by students.

Professor Amato made use of two digital platforms in the course of the semester: Web Publishing for hosting course content and materials; and Omeka, in which students created and published their own digital projects. Folks at NYU’s Digital Scholarship Services helped build the Omeka website on the university’s web hosting pilot, and led an in-class workshop to introduce the platform to students. Gallatin’s own Educational Technology team offered individual consultations to several students, helping them tweak and finalize their projects.

Omeka is an academically oriented web publishing platform, ideal for digital exhibits, such as those produced by students from their research and collection of oral histories. For their final project, students created and curated a mini-exhibit reflecting the life stories of South Bronx residents in their changing neighborhood.

The course’s goal is to expose and fight the silencing and displacing of urban histories that take place with the many changes occurring in the South Bronx. Omeka offers a public-facing digital option to display students’ findings: the uncovering and preservation of personal histories, and the exploration of how they reflect, impact, and challenge the changing neighborhood.

To learn more about Omeka, see our earlier post featuring the platform.