Visiting scholar in Ethnomusicology
Postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University, Belgium
Project: Computational Approaches in Ethnomusicology: Pitch and Scales Research in Central African Music
The digitization of music archives opens up new opportunities in research. For the field of Ethnomusicology, this led to the new research branch Computational Ethnomusicology, a methodology that uses computational tools for the extraction of musical content by analyzing the auditory signal. My research concerns musical scale analysis on field recordings from the Sub-Saharan region that reside at the Archives of Traditional Music (ATM). Using computational tools for pitch extraction, I hope to gain a better understanding of the construction of musical scales, which might lead to a preliminary step in the creation of a classification of musical scales, and could give insights in their evolution over time.
This postdoctoral research is supported by a Fellowship of the Belgian American Educational Foundation (BAEF).
Stephanie De Boer
Associate Professor, Film and Media Studies
Department of Communication and Culture, the Media School
Project: No Hard Edges: Media Art, Video, and Screens in Redefining Chinese Urban Place
For this project Professor DeBoer will partner with the Institute for Digital Arts and Humanities (IDAH) to create the foundation for an online digital companion to her book of the same name. To build a prototype upon which she will eventually construct this digital companion she will use Scalar, a born-digital, open source, media-rich scholarly publishing platform (http://scalar.usc.edu/) developed by the University of Southern California under the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture.
Professor DeBoer will explore the global phenomenon of national and international artists projecting new media art (digital video and images) on architectural landscapes and public screens in major metropolitan centers around the world. She will focus her study on site-specific urban locations in Hong Kong and the Peoples Republic of China to examine the controversies surrounding this practice, to discuss how issues of modernity and urban renewal come into play, and to critically analyze the power structures and vested interests involved in negotiating the development of these sites.
Professor DeBoer’s research will contribute to interdisciplinary debates on the relationship between geographical location and screen media, and how new media arts are marshaled to revitalize spaces and transform cities.
Department of History
Project: The Invisible War: Spies and Detectives in the Making of the Spanish-Cuban-American War and the American Empire, 1868-1908
My book project, The Invisible War: Spies and Detectives in the Making of the Spanish-Cuban-American War and the American Empire, 1868-1908, reveals the untold story of what is conventionally called the “Spanish-American War” It counters and complicates the simple, single-stranded narrative found in many U.S. accounts which were primarily built from U.S. sources and only U.S. perspectives. According to these sources and perspectives, the 1898 mid-February sinking of the battleship Maine in the port of Havana in Cuba, intensified U.S. popular opinion against Spain and in favor of Cuba’s independence. The explosion on the ship was quickly blamed on the Spaniards, prompting Americans to favor the U.S. Congress’ support of Cuba’s right to independence from Spain. By July that same year, U.S. troops landed in Cuba to fight for Cuba’s independence. One month later, Spain capitulated and ceded to the Americans its territories in the Caribbean and the Pacific.
However, archival sources I have unearthed in Spain, Cuba, and the USA point to a different story. These sources reveal that this was a war in which the role of information collected by spies and detectives played a deeply significant role. Spanish and American politicians, as well as Cuba’s insurgent leaders, ordered their national realities in a way that required protection from possible threats of adversaries—and danger could come from all sides. With these challenges in mind, agents such as those of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency were increasingly trained in new forms of scientific knowledge such as physiognomy (facial features or expressions), phrenology (shape and size of cranium), and criminology (the scientific study of crime) to improve their detection of suspicious bodies and activities. Espionage activities aimed at gathering information that could provide an advantage in the conflict. They also protected confidential information from enemies by spreading misleading rumors or even sabotaging adversaries’ plans when necessary. My book argues that the knowledge transmitted by spies waged an invisible war of information and disinformation that facilitated the United States’ swift victory after joining the war in 1898. I analyze how different players used surveillance and other covert techniques to understand and influence events. Consequently, this project breaks new ground by exploring how surveillance became an invisible requirement of modern nation building in the nineteenth century.
This project will organize and produce digital text files from over 5,000 archival documents and 150 rare books I have collected for my book on the Spanish-Cuban-American War. The documents are digital images of mimeographed materials, typed documents, newspaper clippings, and hand written letters (which will need to be transcribed and then scanned to digital format). Using a specific set of digital tools for organizing, scanning, and transferring images of text documents, I will transform this large amount of source data into a searchable digital text format which will enable me to analyze, compare and contrast the contents of the documents and to categorize my data by theme and cogent time periods, among other classifications. These digital tools will be invaluable for working with a large body of documents and discovering the different perspectives and interpretations of the same events throughout the three decades of the period of this research. During the summer and fall of 2015, I will systematize the sources, create a workflow, and prepare the document images for textual analysis and visualization within digital tool platforms such as Voyant and Gephi in order to identify themes and important moments and players.
Department of Anthropology
Project: On Tour: Algerian Actors in the United States
This project takes up the question of the relationship between familiarity and strangeness or difference by following the Algerian theater troupe Istijmam as they prepare for and then tour the United States in Fall 2016 under the auspices of the Center Stage program, which brings artists from underrepresented countries to the U.S. to promote cross-cultural dialogue and understanding. The study approaches familiarity and strangeness not as a static polarity but as a relationship that continuously shifts in ways that can be empirically discovered and documented. The research will result in an enhanced digital book with embedded video and will include collaborative material created by the actors.
Assistant Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship
Kelley School of Business
Project: CULTR: a toolkit for tracing the production and consumption of cultural artifacts
With support from IDAH, Matthew Grimes (Indiana University) and Joel Gehman (University of Alberta) are developing a suite of tools for turning the Internet into actionable data for scholars. Specifically CULTR is a cloud-based, software as a service toolkit that can be used for a variety of tasks, from data collection to digital identity monitoring to intelligent assessment (http://www.cultrtoolkit.com). Through its simple web interface, CULTR enables anyone – academics, researchers, journalists, policymakers and citizens – to quickly and easily trace the production and consumption of cultural artifacts across digital media, such as websites, blogs, social media sites and others, both in real time and over time.