“Shadow Plays: Virtual Realities in an Analog World,” Brown Library’s Digital Publications Initiative’s Second Born-Digital Scholarly Monograph, Published by Stanford University Press

Providence, R.I. [Brown University] Brown University’s Center for Digital Scholarship, based at the University Library, announces the publication of the second born-digital scholarly monograph under the Digital Publications Initiative, a collaboration between the Library and the Dean of the Faculty. Shadow Plays: Virtual Realities in an Analog World, by Professor of Italian Studies Massimo Riva, explores popular forms of entertainment used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to transport viewers to a new world, foreshadowing present-day virtual, augmented, and extended reality experiences (VR, AR, XR).

Published by Stanford University Press, Shadow Plays examines themes of virtual travel, social surveillance, and utopian imagination through six case histories and eight interactive simulations. “The digital format was ideal for my project, which traces a genealogy of virtual reality through analog technologies such as the cosmorama, the magic lantern, the moving panorama, and the stereoscope, all of which foreshadow our contemporary digital technologies,” said Professor Riva. “I look forward to using my digital monograph in the classroom this fall for a course on immersive experiences.” Shadow Plays is an open access publication; it is freely available to anyone, anywhere. According to Friederike Sundaram, Senior Editor for Digital Projects, “The Brown University Library’s dedication to moving interactive scholarship forward has made this collaboration enormously fruitful, and I cannot wait for the project to find its way onto the screens and minds of its readers. I have no doubt it will teach and inspire many.”

Screenshot from Shadow Plays

Brown is in the vanguard of supporting and promoting innovative faculty scholarship that opens up dynamic new possibilities beyond the boundaries of the traditional printed monograph. “With projects including Decameron Web in the 1990s and The Garibaldi Panorama & the Risorgimento in the 2000s, Professor Riva has been expanding the horizons of digital humanities scholarship throughout his career,” said Joukowsky Family University Librarian Joseph S. Meisel. “Shadow Plays brings his innovative contributions to a new level, demonstrating yet again the possibilities for developing and presenting research in the digital realm and extending its reach well beyond the academy. Indeed, it is hard to imagine how a topic such as the early modern history of virtual reality could be successfully explored in any other form.” The development of Shadow Plays was supported by the Mellon Foundation through the Digital Publications Initiative and the Office of the Vice President for Research at Brown University.

With oversight from Digital Scholarship Editor Allison Levy and drawing upon the expertise of the Center for Digital Scholarship, nine additional born-digital publications covering a range of humanistic fields are currently in various stages of development. One is forthcoming with MIT Press in August. An area of distinction for the Library and Brown, the Digital Publications Initiative, launched with the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, activates and guides intellectual exploration and creativity with faculty and other partners across campus. The Initiative also collaborates with publishers to help shape new systems of evaluation, peer review, and scholarly validation for born-digital scholarship. Brown University Library and MIT Press recently launched On Seeing, a book series committed to centering underrepresented perspectives in visual culture.  

Questions about the Library’s Digital Publications Initiative can be addressed to Allison Levy, Digital Scholarship Editor ([email protected]).

Brown Library, Together with Emory University, Releases Report on Digital Scholarly Publishing 

Report presents key findings of a summit on digital monographs; calls for an increase in access, equity, and inclusion in the digital development and dissemination of humanities scholarship.

Baby baskets made by Molly Timothy (Granny Molly) in the early 1950s.
Source: Courtesy of Davis McKenzie Published by UBC Press in As I Remember It: ISBN 9780774861250 (HTML)

Providence, R.I. [Brown University] In spring 2021, Brown University Library and Emory University’s Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry co-hosted a summit on multimodal digital monographs – born-digital publications that offer unique capabilities beyond conventional formats, from multimedia enhancements and interactive navigation to community engagement and global reach. The objective was to survey faculty-led experimentation with new scholarly forms taking place across a number of libraries and humanities centers. Case studies of eight recently published or in-development works exemplified the spectrum and hybridity of innovation in this area and provided a lens through which to consider some of the most pressing questions around reimagined forms of humanities scholarship.  

The resulting report, Multimodal Digital Publications: Content, Collaboration, Community, presents the summit findings — on matters of cross-institutional collaboration, community engagement, professional development, open access, peer review, metadata and discoverability, preservation, sustainability, and diversity, equity, and inclusion — and points to promising ways forward as the process of establishing best practices for the development, validation, and dissemination of multimodal digital monographs continues to unfold.

Joseph Meisel, Joukowsky Family University Librarian at Brown University, lauded the summit as “an important landmark in scholarly communications, bringing into a common conversation several parallel initiatives that are advancing the possibilities for humanistic research through innovative practices and system-changing interventions, and producing outstanding work.” 

Although the summit, which included faculty authors, academic staff experts, and university press representatives, focused on a selection of projects supported by the Mellon Foundation’s Digital Monographs Initiative, the presentations and generative discussions that followed raised important concerns and opportunities that extend well beyond the initial aims of the featured projects. Of primary concern is promoting greater inclusion and equitable access of diverse voices as well as an expanded understanding of what constitutes authorship and readership of humanities scholarship in the 21st century. 

The in-depth, evidence-based report “serves as a starting point for next steps,” according to Allison Levy, Brown Library’s Digital Scholarship Editor and co-editor of the report with Senior Associate Director for Publishing at Emory Sarah McKee, “to acknowledge the work that is already under way, to learn what we can from it, and to seek viable, sustainable means of furthering our shared mission to increase the visibility and reach of humanities scholarship to audiences both within and beyond the academy.”

The report will be of interest to the scholarly publishing community, including library publishers and other scholarly communications professionals; designers and user experience specialists; technologists and software developers; digital archivists and preservation specialists; institutional administrators; and funding agencies and foundations. It will also be of interest to scholars wishing to explore innovative multimodal publication, particularly in collaboration with community partners.

Levy and McKee officially released Multimodal Digital Publications: Content, Collaboration, Community at the annual meeting of the Association of University Presses, on June 20, 2022 in Washington, D.C.

The Brown University Library is central to Brown’s academic mission to support teaching and learning at the highest level, and in a spirit of free and open inquiry. The Library is home to the Center for Digital Scholarship, a hub for the creation of new scholarly forms and other innovations in scholarly communication, including the Mellon- and NEH-supported Digital Publications Initiative, a collaboration with the Dean of the Faculty. An area of distinction for the Library and Brown, the Initiative activates and guides intellectual exploration and creativity with faculty and other partners across campus. It also collaborates with publishers to help shape new systems of evaluation, peer review, and scholarly validation for born-digital scholarship. 

The Digital Publishing in the Humanities initiative at Emory University, based at the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry within the Emory College of Arts and Sciences, relies on robust collaborations with the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, Emory Libraries, and the Office of the Provost’s Center for Faculty Development and Excellence, as well as with academic presses. The program has two key objectives: to encourage conversations about open access and digital publication across Emory’s humanities community, and to support the development and publication of open access digital monographs with university presses. 

GIS Librarian Authors Article on US Census for American Library Association

As part of the Library Technology Reports series, ALA TechSource (an imprint of the American Library Association) has published “US Census Data: Concepts and Applications for Supporting Research,” written by Frank Donnelly, Brown University GIS and Data Librarian (vol. 58, no. 4, May/June 2022). Library Technology Reports help librarians make informed decisions about technology products and projects.

From the publisher: 

US Census Data: Concepts and Applications for Supporting Research” provides readers with a crash course on the census: learn about the concepts on which the census is organized, the key datasets, accessing data online and through scripts via APIs, and considerations for using GIS, historical data, and microdata. Librarians will gain knowledge they can use for assisting members of their communities with census data and will see how the census can be used for library planning and research.

Donnelly’s summary article of the report, “Crunching the Numbers: What to do with the release of the 2020 Census data,” published June 1, 2022, is available in American Libraries.

Commencement Forum | Brown University’s Slavery and Justice Report with Commentary on Context and Impact: Presenting the Revised and Expanded Second Edition

Commencement Forum

Willis Reading Room, John Hay Library
20 Prospect St, Providence, RI
Saturday, May 28
11 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Join via livestream on YouTube

In 2006 Brown released its groundbreaking “Report of the Brown University Steering Committee on Slavery and Justice,” confronting and publicly documenting the University’s complex history with the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies of inequity and injustice. A newly released expanded edition, available through an immersive, interactive digital experience and as a printed book, offers insights into the Report’s persistent and evolving impact both on campus and across the world.

Join Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice Director Anthony Bogues; President of Alliance for Justice and AFJ Action Rakim H. Brooks ‘09; and Brown University Library Digital Scholarship Editor Allison Levy for a demonstration and discussion of the enhanced and expanded report. Welcome remarks by Joukowsky Family University Librarian Joseph S. Meisel.

Announcement | On Seeing: MIT Press and Brown Library Launch Book Series Centering Underrepresented Perspectives in Visual Culture

Brown University Library logo, MIT Press logo

From the MIT Press Blog:

Together, the MIT Press and the Brown University Library announce the launch of On Seeing, an experiment in multimodal publishing that will shape new conversations for diverse audiences about how we see, comprehend, and participate in visual culture. Uniting the Press’s global publishing experience and the Library’s digital publication expertise, the series will examine understudied questions at the intersection of visual culture and subjects such as race, care, decolonization, privilege, and precarity.

While the visual environment has always been central to meaning-making, technology has shifted its global stakes. Today, there is greater access and exposure to visual culture than ever before — outpacing society’s ability to reflect upon its impact. The diverse authors of On Seeing will investigate the ways that power relations are often inscribed in the visual and they will develop knowledge about how visuality is related to equity and justice.

Amy Brand, director and publisher of the MIT Press, notes that partnership with the Brown University Library feels like a natural progression of both organizations’ efforts to increase diversity in scholarly publishing. “For years, the Press and the Library have worked independently to break down barriers in the who, what, and how of scholarly knowledge creation. It is exciting to find a partner that not only aligns closely with our commitment to diversity, but also shares the Press’s spirit of experimentation — pushing the boundaries of what publishing can be.”

Defined by bold positions, rigorous research, and cultural relevance, books will be written in an accessible style to serve a wide audience. The series will be launched alongside a community engagement program tailored to each specific volume and supported by a postdoctoral researcher position at Brown University Library. Resources might include an online hub for knowledge-sharing, a downloadable community conversation toolkit, an author interview or podcast, or free-to-the-public events such as book readings and structured conversations in libraries, bookstores, or public arts institutions. With inclusivity and access as driving motivations, On Seeing will be published in print editions and in interactive, open access digital editions.

“This transformative cross-institutional collaboration brings together distinctive research library and university press capabilities for common ends in the service of scholarship and public understanding,” said Joseph Meisel, Joukowsky Family University Librarian at Brown University. “By opening up broader and more inclusive conversations around scholarship and reducing barriers to access, we are modeling practices that demonstrate the public value of our mission and shared objectives.”

In addition to establishing a Diversity in Digital Publishing Postdoctoral Fellowship with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Brown University Library’s Digital Publications Initiative recently received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to establish a training institute for scholars from a variety of institutions, disciplines, and backgrounds who wish to develop enhanced born-digital publications but lack the necessary resources and capacity at their home institutions.

The MIT Press established the Fund for Diverse Voices in 2018. Its most recent initiative, the Grant Program for Diverse Voices, expands funding for new work by authors whose voices have been chronically underrepresented across the arts, humanities, and sciences. The Press also plays an active role in the Mellon Foundation-supported University Press Diversity Fellowship Program, which provides underrepresented individuals an opportunity to gain professional experience and build a network in scholarly publishing.

Editorial oversight for the series will be handled jointly by Victoria Hindley, Acquisitions Editor for Visual Culture and Design at the MIT Press, and Allison Levy, Digital Scholarship Editor for the Brown University Library’s Digital Publications Initiative, in collaboration with an Editorial Collective composed of Shahzad Bashir, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities and Professor of History at Brown University; Lisa Cartwright, Professor of Visual Arts, Communication, and Science Studies at the University of California at San Diego; Stefanie Hessler, Curator and Director of Kunsthall Trondheim; Trica Keaton, African and African American Studies at Dartmouth University; and Hrag Vartanian, Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic.

Two New Projects Selected for Brown’s Digital Publications Initiative

The University Library and the Dean of the Faculty, together with the Digital Publications Faculty Advisory Committee, are pleased to announce the selection of the next two long-form scholarly works to be developed as part of Brown’s Digital Publications Initiative.

Avery Willis Hoffman

Trojan Women in Performance by Avery Willis Hoffman, Inaugural Artistic Director, Brown Arts Institute, Professor of the Practice of Arts and Classics, surveys significant productions of Euripides’ Trojan Women (415 BC) across the 20th and 21st centuries, investigating the ways in which the play provides a unique forum for debating human responsibility in times of war. As the Classics and the Western Canon endure a new round of decolonization and dismantling efforts, along with the scrutiny of those wishing to make space for a diversity of storytelling and more widely representational literature, ancient works can offer a veritable platform for interpretation, for splicing and re-imagining, for the insertion of new voices and texts, and for the insistence on fresh perspectives. Featuring a flexible and interactive format, the multimodal book will open up new directions of exploration for scholarly and artistic communities.

Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali Zamindar

The Ruin Archive: Art and War at the Ends of Empire by Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali Zamindar, Associate Professor of History, examines the formation of “Indian art” via the nineteenth- and twentieth-century extraction of art to European collections and museums from ancient and war-torn landscapes of the Indo-Afghan borderlands, offering a detailed account of the effects of such colonial extraction of objects on the multi-religious landscape of the Indian subcontinent. Developing The Ruin Archive as a digital publication will allow Zamindar to intervene in and disrupt colonial and national narratives through the creation of an interactive archive that juxtaposes material across geographies and temporalities such as government records, ethnographic dictionaries, military manuals, war albums, museum catalogues, photographs, colonial films, and contemporary documentation from the “frontier,” resources which have hitherto never been examined together.

Generously launched with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2015, Brown’s Digital Publications Initiative seeks to advance humanities scholarship by providing a university-based approach to the development, evaluation, and publication of born-digital scholarly monographs. With oversight from Brown’s Digital Scholarship Editor, projects that are selected by the Initiative’s Faculty Advisory Committee are developed as enhanced digital works that draw upon the capabilities of the Library’s Center for Digital Scholarship. These scholarly works are then submitted to leading university presses that have corresponding academic interests and the infrastructure for peer review and digital publication.

The Initiative’s first born-digital scholarly monograph, Furnace and Fugue: A Digital Edition of Michael Maier’s Atalanta fugiens (1618) with Scholarly Commentary, co-edited by Tara Nummedal, Professor of History, and Independent Scholar Donna Bilak, was published by the University of Virginia Press in July 2020. 

Two other projects are forthcoming at leading university presses:

  • A New Vision for Islamic Pasts and Futures by Shahzad Bashir, Aga Khan Professor of Islamic Humanities and Professor of History (forthcoming with MIT Press); and
  • Shadow Plays: Virtual Realities in an Analogue World by Massimo Riva, Professor of Italian Studies (forthcoming with Stanford University Press).

Other digital works currently under development include: 

  • The Sensory Monastery: Saint-Jean-des-Vignes co-authored by Sheila Bonde, Professor of History of Art and Architecture and Professor of Archaeology, and Clark Maines, Professor Emeritus of Art History at Wesleyan University; 
  • Standing Still Moving: Arts of Gesture in Lateral Time by Rebecca Schneider, Professor of Modern Culture and Media; 
  • Chika Sagawa, Japanese Modernist Poet by Sawako Nakayasu, Assistant Professor of Literary Arts;
  • Travels in Search of the Slave Past: Monuments, Memorials, Sites of Slavery by Renée Ater, Provost’s Visiting Professor of Africana Studies.
  • Imperial Unsettling: Indigenous and Immigrant Activism Toward Collective Liberation by Kevin Escudero, Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies;
  • The Gospel of Resistance by Charrise Barron, Assistant Professor of Americana Studies and Music;
  • Art, Secrecy, and Invisibility in Ancient Egypt by Laurel Bestock, Associate Professor of Archaeology and the Ancient World & Egyptology and Assyriology; and
  • The Sojourner Project: A Black Studies Mobile Academy by Tina Campt, Owen F. Walker Professor of Humanities and Professor of Modern Culture and Media.

In addition to developing the Mellon humanities portfolio, the Initiative produces university publications such as the revised and expanded edition of Brown’s Slavery and Justice Report and the ‘Race &’ in America digital series. A new grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities will establish a training institute for scholars from a variety of institutions, disciplines, and backgrounds who wish to develop innovative born-digital publications but lack the necessary resources and capacity at their home institutions.

To learn more about Brown’s digital scholarly publication program, contact Digital Scholarship Editor Allison Levy ([email protected]).

Brown Signs Read and Publish Agreement with Cambridge University Press

No Article Processing Charges for Brown authors who wish to publish articles via gold open access with Cambridge University Press

Many authors would like to publish their scholarly articles gold open access (OA) but are deterred by the article processing charge (APC) assessed by the publisher — sometimes as high as thousands of dollars. With Brown’s recent Read & Publish agreement with Cambridge University Press, corresponding authors at Brown who have manuscripts accepted for publication from the 1st of January 2022 and publish in Cambridge’s journals will no longer have to pay the APC for gold OA, augmenting OA publishing options at Brown, providing Brown community members with free access to Cambridge titles, and enhancing global access to scholarly work by Brown researchers.

With gold OA, the final published version of the article — the “Version of Record” — is permanently and freely available online for anyone, anywhere to read. 

Read more about the Read & Publish agreement here and the process here. This agreement strengthens Brown’s commitment to OA and facilitates compliance with the Brown University Open Access Policy, adopted by the faculty in 2021.

Questions about Brown’s Read & Publish agreement with Cambridge University Press? Visit [email protected] or contact [email protected]

Announcement | Brown Library Receives NEH Grant for Digital Publishing Institute

National training program centered on diversity and inclusion aims to broaden the range of scholars producing born-digital publications and, by extension, the audience for digital humanities scholarship.

Providence, R.I. [Brown University] Brown University Library has received a $169,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to create a training institute on digital publishing. Born-Digital Scholarly Publishing: Resources and Road Maps will support scholars who wish to develop innovative born-digital scholarship intended for publication by a university press but lack the necessary resources and capacity at their home institutions.

Born-digital, multimodal monographs allow authors to articulate and advance scholarly ideas through the innovative use of digital tools and/or data as well as interactive, media-rich enhancements in ways that are not possible in a conventional book. While there is growing support for this path breaking approach to scholarship on the part of academic institutions, disciplinary organizations, grantmaking organizations, and university presses, there is currently no “how to” manual or comprehensive training opportunity for what is a complex, rapidly evolving endeavor.

The National Endowment for the Humanities and Brown University together: Democracy demands wisdom.

Three-Week Institute

Designed to demystify and streamline the path to digital publication, Brown Library’s three-week hybrid institute, to take place in July 2022, will equip a cohort of fifteen humanities scholars with in-depth knowledge of the digital publishing process, familiarity with open-source tools and platforms, advanced project management skills, concrete and individualized plans for project advancement, and top-level publishing industry contacts. The institute will be open to a variety of scholars, including unaffiliated scholars, adjunct professors, and part-time faculty, from different disciplines, career stages, institution types, and geographical locations. 

Accessibility and Inclusion

Moreover, through the purposeful training and mentoring of under-resourced scholars, the institute will help bridge a digital divide that, without intervention, puts digital publishing, as a future of scholarship, at risk of becoming the preserve of the most elite and affluent institutions. By making the born-digital publication process more accessible and inclusive, the institute will foster the elevation of underrepresented voices and subject matter, thereby diversifying the output of teaching and learning resources as well as expanding the readership for digital scholarship. In recognition of its recently extended membership in the HBCU Library Alliance (the first non-HBCU addition to the historically Black colleges and universities alliance), Brown University Library will prioritize some of the cohort slots for faculty from member institutions.

According to Allison Levy, the Library’s Digital Scholarship Editor and project director for the institute, “Perhaps the most intentional element of the institute’s design to have far-reaching implications for humanities research and teaching is Brown’s commitment to support under-resourced scholars. This crucial re-prioritization of how and for whom the practice and production of digital humanities scholarship is taught will have a profound impact on current and future generations of scholars.”

Digital Publications Initiative at Brown

Born-Digital Scholarly Publishing: Resources and Road Maps builds upon the successes of Brown’s Digital Publications Initiative — a collaboration between the University Library and the Dean of the Faculty, generously launched with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2015. The Initiative has established a novel, transformative approach to the development of longform, multimodal works that make original and meaningful contributions across the humanities. The Initiative also collaborates with publishers to help shape new systems of evaluation, peer review, and scholarly validation for born-digital scholarship. Brown saw its first project published in 2020 by the University of Virginia Press; two others are forthcoming with Stanford University Press and MIT Press, respectively; and eight projects are in various stages of development.

“We feel incredibly fortunate to have this kind of opportunity to expand the reach and impact of our efforts to advance the possibilities of digital publication for first-rate scholarship,” said Brown’s University Librarian Joseph Meisel. “I am also eager to see all that we will learn from working with the institute’s fifteen scholars, and the ways they will help inform our approach and practices going forward.” 

Questions about the institute or the Library’s Digital Publications Initiative generally can be addressed to Allison Levy, Digital Scholarship Editor ([email protected]).

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

The National Endowment for the Humanities and Brown University together: Democracy demands wisdom.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this press release and in the Born-Digital Scholarly Publishing: Resources and Road Maps Institute do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Announcement | Brown Library publishes “Race &” in America digital book series

Free and open publication documents and expands series exploring origins, history, and legacies of anti-Black racism in the U.S.

Providence, R.I. [Brown University] Over the course of the 2020-21 academic year, the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America at Brown, in partnership with the Office of the Provost, undertook a systematic investigation of the foundational and enduring contemporary effects of anti-Black racism in America. Drawing on the expertise of Brown scholars from a range of fields and scholarly perspectives as well as the University’s historic strength and leadership in scholarship on race, the pioneering “Race &” in America panel series generated critical engagements with society’s most fundamental and urgent questions. Investigating the role that racism plays in American public health, democracy, punishment, and more, the informed and illuminating discussions deepened knowledge and awareness in the service of promoting a more just and inclusive community and world. The “Race &” in America digital publication series amplifies the impact and extends the reach of this important and timely panel series.

Developed by the Brown University Library’s Digital Publications Initiative and in close coordination with Tricia Rose, Chancellor’s Professor of Africana Studies, Associate Dean of the Faculty for Special Initiatives, and Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America, the “Race &” in America digital publication series re-presents the compelling original panel discussions with expanded content and resources in an innovative, interactive format, designed to heighten understanding and broaden these critical conversations. “The ‘Race &’ series and its creative digital presentation reflect two core elements of CSREA’s vision: to foster dynamic intellectual community on crucial issues and ensure long-lasting access to ideas,” said Rose. “By offering an array of Brown faculty reflecting on the importance and complexity of the way race defines American society from slavery to genetics to art, and making it available through this interactive, digital platform with enhanced content, we’re able to contribute to ongoing conversations on these critical issues.”

The “Race &” digital publication is a remarkable example of Brown’s dedication to its mission of creating and sharing knowledge in service of society. According to Richard M. Locke, Brown University provost: 

Brown is committed to conducting and disseminating widely consequential research designed to elevate awareness of pressing societal issues and contribute to meaningful change. The “Race &” in America series is emblematic of this commitment. Over the course of a year, we have shared Brown’s faculty expertise in the interwoven areas that define and perpetuate anti-Black racism in the U.S., and through this engaging digital delivery, we’re able to amplify and extend the impact of these important contributions.

As an open access publication, the digital series provides enduring, barrier-free access to information, and has been developed with universal design principles for equitable use by all persons, including those with disabilities. In addition, the series features responsive design — readable on all digital devices, from smartphones to desktops — and robust highlighting, annotation, and sharing tools that encourage deep reader engagement and allow users to interact with one another.

Each of the eight volumes in the digital series includes:

  • A recording of one of the 90-minute panel discussions that took place throughout the 2020-2021 academic year
  • Student Voices podcast episodes in which Brown University students engage the panelists in follow-up discussion 
  • Recommendations for entry-point materials on the subject
  • Multimedia resource collections of readings, online exhibitions, podcasts, and other materials referenced during the panel discussions
  • Suggestions for further exploration

“The ‘Race &’ in America series is an important step forward for Brown’s leadership in both scholarship on race and digital scholarly publications,” said University Librarian Joseph Meisel. “It ensures that the penetrating perspectives and fresh critical analyses advanced through this remarkable academic initiative are not simply preserved as a video link on some website, but rather rendered more fully in a format that sustains and broadens the impact of this essential work for education, further research, and public understanding.”    

The digital series consists of eight volumes:

Brown’s Digital Publications Initiative — a collaboration between the University Library and the Dean of the Faculty, generously launched with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — creates exciting new conditions for the production and sharing of knowledge. Widely recognized as accessible, intentional, and inclusive, Brown’s path-breaking Initiative is helping to set the standards for the future of scholarship in the digital age.

Questions about the “Race &” in America digital publication series or the Library’s Digital Publications Initiative generally can be addressed to Allison Levy, Digital Scholarship Editor ([email protected]).

Announcement | Stolen Relations: Recovering Stories of Indigenous Enslavement in the Americas

“Return of Indians,” Mosquito Shore registry of enslaved Indians, 1777. CO 123/31/125. The National Archives, UK.

The Library has been contributing to a community-centered database project led by Professor Linford Fisher that seeks to document the many instances of Indigenous enslavement in the Americas between 1492 through 1900. Formerly entitled, Database of Indigenous Slavery Archive (DISA), the project is now named, Stolen Relations: Recovering Stories of Indigenous Enslavement in the Americas.

Since the summer of 2019, with guidance from Professor Rae Gould and Lydia Curliss, Physical Sciences Librarian and member of the Nipmuc Nation, the team has been working with Native partners from twelve different tribal nations in the southern New England area. Together, the collaborators decided to change the project name to one that reflects the efforts and goals to decolonize the project and become more community and Indigenous centered.

Rather than simply make accessible the records of Indigenous people who were enslaved, the project is designed to offer a decolonizing framework that explores the 21st century impact of enslavement that has ruptured the relations of Indigenous people, families, and nations. In short, stolen relations. The project recovers the stories of Indigenous enslavement in order to bring to light the stories and to contextualize them within the larger context of settler colonialism.

Because the team is largely collecting archival documents about indigenous enslavement that are written by the colonizer, it is essential to indigenize the presentation of the database so that there is a decolonizing context around the language from archival documents. For example, rather than simply list “tribe” affiliations, as is sometimes listed on the original document, the database will provide information on how archival documents often include terms that diminish the nationhood and sovereignty of Indigenous peoples (such as the word “tribe”). And in many cases, the tribal/national affiliation of enslaved Natives was completely erased. The project intends to reassert the nation-to-nation relationship that tribes have, and center that context alongside the data.

In this early phase of the project, the database is not yet public — though the project website is public. The team is working with tribal partners and a group of researchers to identify, enter, and interpret relevant historical and oral historical materials, and is currently looking to partner with individuals and institutions who are willing to send materials they have or join the research team to input materials directly. Please visit the project’s Contribute page or contact Linford D. Fisher to learn more.

Stolen Relations has been generously funded and supported by the following entities:

Library staff members working on the Stolen Relations project:

  • Ashley Champagne, Digital Humanities Librarian, Center for Digital Scholarship, Brown University (Project Manager)
  • Lydia Curliss, Physical Sciences Librarian, Academic Engagement, Brown University Library (Nipmuc)
  • Birkin Diana, Digital Technologies Developer, Brown University Library
  • Patrick Rashleigh, Data Visualization Coordinator, Center for Digital Scholarship, Brown University
  • Ben Tyler, Publications and Design Specialist