DHK12: Open-Access Digital Humanities Curricula for K-12 Schools

paper, specified "short paper"
  1. 1. Rosalie Uyola

    Trevor Day School

Work text
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Short Paper Proposal

DHK12 (


is a free, unrestricted, online open-access collaborative network of educators who seek to:

use digital tools to make the humanities come to life for students
draw on the scholarship of women and people of color to diversify curricula
support students as they do the work of historians by creating knowledge.

This year, DHK12 is in the process of launching two digital projects -- built by students, the people who will need the tools to deal with the complexities of the future -- that will contribute to public scholarship in digital indigenous studies, digital black studies, Africana and diasporic studies, digital queer studies, and digital feminist studies. With these interdisciplinary and transnational, student-driven digital archive projects (currently in progress; please see full abstract for project descriptions), we will build complex models of memory and commemoration, analysing our data with computational methods and communicating the results to a broader public.

DHK12 is part of an ethical and political imperative for a growing number of teachers and scholars committed to accountable and reciprocal research practices and knowledge-sharing. As producers of an open-access interdisciplinary curriculum and network, we are organizing academic knowledge production away from the profit motive of textbook publishers. Instead, we use primary source documents and digital archives, and work collaboratively with local cultural institutions to teach DH thinking and skills to primary and secondary school students. DHK12 develops projects to teach students and teachers how to use computational text analysis, digital mapping and timelines, image processing, and 3D modeling to develop new epistemologies, ontologies, and ways of knowing and understanding public humanities and societal engagement.

DHK12 Student Project #1 (Fall and Spring 2018-2019)

Our digital indigenous studies project,
The Red Atlantic


, explores “internal settler colonialism” versus “external imperial colonialism.” Questions that we explore include: Is there a different representation or story about Indigenous people and what happened to them produced by the American Museum of Natural History (NYC) versus the Natural History Museum (London)? How do different types of colonialisms tell different stories about the encounter or the colonial project in 3 dimensions? Using computational text analysis, we will analyze internal records to ask: What are the internal debates? What do the debates around changing exhibits sound and look like? What are the issues?

This year, K-12 students in NYC photographed dioramas and mounted exhibits at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and we built a digital archive that places the museum’s narrative side by side with historical and artistic representations of culture created by indigenous scholars. Our objective is to use digital tools to decolonize the museum and open up spaces for indigenous scholars and artists within locations traditionally identified with dominant representations of colonialism. As a local and international public space, AMNH is a powerful producer of historical narratives and our digital archive seeks to re-center the voices and ontologies of indigenous scholars within the epistemological “origins story” of the American continent. For next year, we plan to partner with a K-12 school in London to build phase two of our archive, in which we decolonize the representations of indigeneity at the Natural History Museum by placing current exhibitions and collections in conversations with contemporary work created by indigenous scholars and artists.

DHK12 Student Project #2 (Spring and Fall 2019)

Rainbow is Enuf


is a digital archive documenting the remarkable tenacity of black women, trans women, and femmes’ visual, cultural, and political influence on American history. This black joy and black excellence archive draws on and contributes to digital black studies, digital queer studies, and digital feminist studies. Currently, in public and independent American schools, children learn about black American life by studying enslavement, the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Jim Crow Laws, redlining/blockbusting of housing, and most recently, the prison industrial complex. To offer students an opportunity to understand the complexities of these histories more completely, our project combines digital research and digital production that allows students to explore the joy and excellence of black labor and resistance through the study of music, film, dance, art, comedy, theatre, and food. Students will utilize
digital resources such as
Digital Public Library of America
DPLA) and Stanford's Tooling up for DH



The historiography of the project highlights and centers contributions of black women as creators of knowledge. By presenting students with new information using primary sources and giving voice and volume to marginalized histories, we seek to decolonize U.S. History curricula. Our contribution to digital humanities in general and to the arts, Africana and diasporic studies, and social justice research in particular is a digital archive that is free, unrestricted, and open access, for use by researchers, teachers, students, writers, curators, community organizers, and activists from around the world who are dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of U.S. culture and history in a global context.

As a K-12 teacher and junior scholar in American Studies, I hope this short paper presentation will enable me to build partnerships with DH scholars worldwide to continue to develop interdisciplinary K-12 digital humanities curricula that use and contribute to interdisciplinary scholarship, teaching, and creative student-centered work.
The presentation will have a “lessons learned” recommendation section for others who wish to utilize digital humanities for pedagogy within the K-12 systems, as well as students’ reflections about their experience.


This project draws from the insights of three editors from three major OA journals — Cultural Anthropology, Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society, and Abolition Journal — as well as student perspectives from the American Studies Association membership.

There is, Paul Gilroy tells us, a culture that is not specifically African, American, Caribbean, or British, but all of these at once, a black Atlantic culture whose themes and techniques transcend ethnicity and nationality to produce something new and, until now, unremarked. Challenging the practices and assumptions of cultural studies,
The Black Atlantic
also complicates and enriches our understanding of modernism. Our project,
The Red Atlantic
, pays homage to this work and uses digital tools to complicate and deepen our understanding of indigeneity, empire, and colonialism beyond national borders.

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Conference Info

In review

ADHO - 2019

Hosted at Utrecht University

Utrecht, Netherlands

July 9, 2019 - July 12, 2019

436 works by 1162 authors indexed

Series: ADHO (14)

Organizers: ADHO