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Sienna's Mock Draft Prospectus

Page history last edited by sienna@umail.ucsb.edu 7 years, 4 months ago

MOCK NEH Application Cover Sheet


Digital Humanities Start-up Grants



Sienna Córdoba

PhD Student, History

Santa Barbara, CA 93117

Email: sienna@umail.ucsb.edu

Field of Expertise: Environmental History



University of California, Santa Barbara




Title: Hippolyte's Seashell, A Digital Marine Environmental History of Movement in the Pre- Contact Caribbean


Short Abstract: Interactive, animated maps of interdisciplinary knowledge about mobility and migration in marine environments, using the Caribbean Sea, 5000 BCE until the present, as a case study


Grant Period: From 9/2014 to 9/2015

Field of Project: History- Environmental History


Description of Project Idea:


There are two huge and interlocking opportunities for environmental historians in the digital humanities. The first, and most popular, option is mapping historical data onto geo-spatial locations and. The second is to use cyberspace as a communication platform and pedagogical tool. Our marine environmental history project will integrate Caribbean maps and narratives, using Neatline to create virtual, interactive worlds for others and ourselves to explore and learn from. Animated ''worlds'' of Caribbean a-human marine mobility will be the main outcomes of this ambitious project. The goal is a constantly morphing showcase for written, visual, audible and maybe tactile ways of learning about the newest academic research on the marine environmental history in the Caribbean context.


This project is also founded in the belief that the need to incorporate ''deep,'' non-written pasts into digital, historical and broadly humanistic ways of knowing about diverse human-environment relationships is more pressing and possible than ever. Environmental history has most recently responded to this call by working with data from long term (decades long) ecological research centers and paleo- and zoo-archaeological research. The digital humanities, like the environmental humanities, has made experimental efforts to be more inclusive of other non-written pasts by engaging with oral histories and rock art, for example. The shared desire to reach further and further back into the past beyond strictly ''textual'' evidence as well as further and further geographically afield beyond our national borders has helped and will continue to push these two extra-disciplinary humanities fields forward together.






Statement of Innovation


This project integrates four strands of knowledge to pilot a new approach to marine environmental history. These are: geography, archaeological findings, geological maps, and a narrative humanistic approach. The methodology is innovative in itself. The product will also be a significant and unique contribution to conversations in both digital and environmental humanities.


NEH Digital Humanities Start-up Grant, Level 1 Proposal Narrative

A unified approach to using digital mapping tools like Neatline to create interactive, interdisciplinary perspectives on the marine environmental history of the Caribbean.


Successive waves of a-human migrants into the Caribbean from multiple mainland points over thousands of years, over thousands of miles, is an exciting and unexplored starting point for telling stories about marine environment interactions. Rather than focus on changing human ''cultural'' identities or ''ecological'' environmental adaptations in isolation, this project aims to break down the humanities/ sciences, human/ nature binary.


The project is based upon a stochastic telescoping effect. The first time-space map will span tens of thousands of years, the second thousands, the third hundreds, the fourth decades, and the fifth just a few months or maybe even days, with the rate of change escalating over time. The first stage will be geological and explore vicariance in the Caribbean after the volcanic/plate tectonic creation of the isthmus and islands, beginning around 150 million years ago. The second stage will, using archaeological evidence, track change in the ancient Caribbean, beginning around 4,000 BCE, by examining the big biomass marine resources (like manatees) which probably pulled Amerindian expansion into the archipelago, as well as the impact of the introduced flora and fauna they brought with them from the mainland. The third stage will be somewhat experimental, an attempt to chart varying lifespans, breeding patterns and migrations of small marine animals and plants (like the cittarium pica and other shellfish) with those of larger terrestrial and amphibian lifeforms. The outcome will chart changing marine populations over time, with an eye to a-human hunting and extinction. The fourth stage will enter into the historical period and concentrate on marine resources that pulled the Afro-Europeans into the Caribbean (like pearls and turtles) and the impact of humans over-harvesting underwater resources during the early modern era. The fifth stage will focus on the pollution of the Caribbean during the twenty-first century and the impact of underwater photography,scuba and radar on our narratives of marine environmental change.


The idea for moving maps grew out of scholarly interest and engagement with time-space exploration and the rise of temporally sensitive, digital mapping approaches to history. Mobility is and has always been central to all life on Earth. Even our continents move around. Historical scholarship has begun to think more seriously about migration and mobility over long periods of time. Environmental historians and classicists alike use the momentum and material record of ancient mobility to give depth to more recent events. This project will pilot an extra-disciplinary humanities approach to long term, often ''scientific'' perspectives on migration — one that draws on the best practices so far identified by those involved in geographic, geological and archaeological research and its context (on the one hand) and narrative storytelling (on the other).


We strive to be informed by the research questions most important to the digital and environmental humanities. What type of human is posited by this sort of new wave Annalian history? Why the marine environment if humans do not live underwater? The current environmental concern with climate change, rising sea levels and ocean acidification made the choice to focus on marine environments relatively straightforward. And despite the importance of the ocean to human life and mobility, it is a relatively understudied area in the historical discipline when compared to terrestrial environs.


Does the standard historical or broadly academic manuscript lend itself to understanding watery marine mobility? Scholars interested can gain a well-rounded sense of ecological change throughout an area even as large and fluid as the ''pre-contact Caribbean,'' over thousands of years, by meticulously reading hundreds and hundreds of books, across multiple disciplines. It might take a few decades. If ''sea change'' is the most important and meaningful phenomena we study as marine environmental historians, as well as the subject of increasing public interest and pertinence, then it is imperative that we find a more articulate way of conveying our research. Humanists will benefit from an approach that focuses not only on digital history and mapping tools but on new ways of disseminating their hard won historical knowledge.


Furthermore, there is very little digital and/or environmental history work published that focuses on both the needs of future academic inquiry in the Caribbean, in an increasingly digital world, and the needs of people who want to use the internet as an easily accessible tool to learn and help create historical narratives, especially in the Caribbean. We will design, and create a pilot implementation of, an interdisciplinary, multiple author Neatline project, based on the pre-contact Caribbean as a case study, integrating the approaches of environmental history with the recommendations of digital humanities. This is will be open to the public as a tool for navigating the Sea, learning about past and present changes to the marine-scape and potentially becoming a conversation platform for policymakers and the public.


Environmental Scan:


Canonical geographic migration theories will be introduced and played with narratively within the Neatline framework. In the 1870s, Ravenstein theorized that human females short migrate and men long migrate, a pervasive and important phenomenon in the Caribbean. In the 1940s, Lee theorized the push-pull model, hypothesizing that most people would rather stay where they are because their knowledge about place of origin is often outweighed by their fear of the unknown. We will experiment with different push and pull factors between the mainland and the archipelago. Scholars have also tried to apply Newton's Law of Gravitation to island migration, i.e. big and close=more pull, small and far=less pull. Chain migration, in which the knowledge of the destination>fear of obstacles, will also be a factor. (Today, the majority of international migration is still male and educated.) How did a-human migration changed the pre-contact Caribbean environment? Archaeological findings hold many of the answers.


Archaeological research on the pre-contact Caribbean has made huge advances recently. Archaeology is particularly useful in the Caribbean since the late fifteenth century, contact period historical record of the Caribbean's pre- contact inhabitants is very deeply skewed. The interactive maps will use data from archaeological research to better understand the bio-geography of the Caribbean, before and during Afro-European expansion. There are few scientific precedents for this work that are primarily interested in disseminating knowledge in clear, concise and engaging formats to the general public. One huge notable example is the recent Census of Marine Life @comlmaps.org/ with a built -in application for contributing to the new Google Earth 5, a 3-D modeling project: http://comlmaps.org/ge_layers






Another great example would be the http://seamap.env.duke.edu/, which hosts programs like the marine mammal wildlife tracking program:




As well as a turtle nesting site map:





Final product and Evaluation


The methodological write up will transfer to journal and conference presentations aimed at the digital mapping, ancient mobility and marine environmental history. We will show that this type of work can serve the needs of the academy and the general public through a shared appreciation of new ways of analyzing our shared marine environmental history. We will demonstrate to other academic institutions that this work can be conducted in an efficient and competent manner by non-expert digital humanists. We hope to work in close collaboration with the developers of Neatline, of the Census of Marine Life and a host of other disciplines interested in so- called ''science writing.'' This will be the beginning of an interconnected, digital community of pre- contact Caribbean experts.









Year 1


Project Total

1. Salaries













Academic Yr:$200,000





Research Assistants (2)

Academic Yr:


















2. Consultant Fees






Web Designer


60 days










3. Travel







2 month trip to archaeological research sites in Caribbean (Los Angeles to San Juan, $800; per diem: $100 x 60 days)











4. Supplies

Camera equipment






GPS Units for dig sites

4 @ $1,100 each










5. Total Direct Costs



$78, 200.00


$100, 200.00







6. Total Indirect Costs






a. rate: 25% of modified direct costs

b. Federal Agency: NSF

c. Date of Agreement

$75, 000.00


$19, 000.00


$25, 050.00







10.Total Project Costs




(direct and indirect costs)

$125, 250.00













11. Project Funding








a.Requested from NEH








Federal Matching Funds






Total Requested from NEH




b.Cost sharing




12. Total Project Funding

















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