Digital Storytelling Colloquium

Digital Storytelling Colloquium

Human Stories / Digital Storytellers

The IDRH Digital Storytelling Colloquium is a series of virtual events focused on the ethics, politics, and techniques of digital storytelling. Stretched over the length of the academic year, the events will feature exemplary projects from across the world and across the KU campus, model digital storytelling practices, and introduce participants to a range of digital storytelling tools. Some meetings will be webinar-style presentations; others will be Zoom-style collaborative meetings. Across all events, the vision of the colloquium is to build a community of inquiry and an incubator for ideas.  

The colloquium will be anchored by four virtual events featuring a widely recognized external scholar associated with a digital storytelling project. Each invited scholar will provide two talks. First, the visiting scholar will use a virtual platform to introduce a public audience to their digital storytelling project. This presentation will be marketed to the entire university community and the general public. It will be webinar-style presentation (single-speaker format with questions handled via a chat room and a moderator) to accommodate an audience of up to 500 people.   

Second, the speaker will provide a targeted training session on the digital methods, tools, and resources that inform their own work. This will be a smaller event that features a Zoom-style collaborative environment in which each participant can share their voice, likeness, and content. In order to maintain the collaborative environment and ensure that participants receive feedback on their projects, these events will be restricted to the IDRH cohort of Digital Humanities Fellows. 

2021-2022 Colloquium

"Michelle Caswell"Michelle Caswell, PhD

Archival Studies, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

Urgent Archives: Enacting Liberatory Memory Work

September 30, 2021 | 4pm

Michelle Caswell, PhD, is an Associate Professor of Archival Studies in the Department of Information Studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Caswell directs a team of students at UCLA’s Community Archives Lab, which explores the ways that independent, identity-based memory organizations document, shape, and provide access to the histories of minoritized communities, with a particular emphasis on understanding their affective, political, and artistic impact. In 2008, together with Samip Mallick, Caswell co-founded the South Asian American Digital Archive, an online repository that documents and provides access to the stories of South Asian Americans. She is the author of the books Urgent Archives: Enacting Liberatory Memory Work (Routledge Press, 2021) and Archiving the Unspeakable: Silence, Memory and the Photographic Record in Cambodia (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014), as well as more than 50 peer-reviewed articles in critical archival studies. 

Register for this event.

"Yolanda Chavez Leyva"Yolanda Chávez Leyva, PhD

History, University of Texas at El Paso

Title forthcoming

October 28, 2021 | 4pm

Dr. Yolanda Chávez Leyva is a Chicana historian and writer who was born and raised on the border. She is the Director of the Institute of Oral History, Director of the Liberal Arts Honors Program and  Associate Professor. She has spent her life listening to and now documenting the lives of people who live on la frontera. Professor Leyva specializes in border history, public history, and Chicana history. She is co-founder of Museo Urbano, a museum of the streets, that highlights fronterizo history by taking it where people are-- from museums to the actual streets of El Paso. She came to academia after a decade of social work in the Black and Brown communities of east Austin, with a desire to make academia and especially history relevant and useful to people. Her work has been recognized nationally. She is the recipient of the National Council on Public History "Best Public History Project Award" and the American Historical Association Herbert Feis Award that recognizes "distinguished contributions to public history." She has also received several faculty awards from UTEP and the College of Liberal Arts. In 2014, the government of Brazil invited her to conduct community dialogue training with new and emerging historical sites from Latin America, Africa, and Asia. She is currently interviewing community members who grew up or currently live in El Paso's southside barrios as well as former Braceros. She is the oral historian for the "Voices from the Border" series. She is also completing a manuscript on interpreting Latinx history in museums and historic sites, based on oral histories conducted with museum and historic sites professionals. She has curated, and co-curated, many museums exhibits with her students. Dr. Leyva has published numerous articles on Chicana, lesbian and border history. In addition, she has published poetry in Ixhua, La Voz de Esperanza, and Cantos al Sexto Sol. 

Read her blog: Fierce Fronteriza.

Register for this event.

2020-2021 Colloquium

"Jessica Marie Johnson"Jessica Marie Johnson, PhD

History, Johns Hopkins University

"Keywords and dark filaments in digital time"

October 1, 2020 | 4pm


Jessica Marie Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the Johns Hopkins University. Johnson is a historian of Atlantic slavery and the Atlantic African diaspora. She is the author of Wicked Flesh: Black Women, Intimacy, and Freedom in the Atlantic World (University of Pennsylvania Press, August 2020).

She is co-editor with Lauren Tilton and David Mimno of Debates in the Digital Humanities: Computational Humanities. She is guest editor of Slavery in the Machine, a special issue of sx: archipelagos (2019) and co-editor with Dr. Mark Anthony Neal (Duke University) of Black Code: A Special Issue of the Black Scholar (2017).

Her work has appeared in Slavery & Abolition, The Black Scholar, Meridians: Feminism, Race and Transnationalism, American Quarterly, Social Text, The Journal of African American History, the William & Mary Quarterly, Debates in the Digital Humanities, Forum Journal, Bitch Magazine, Black Perspectives (AAIHS), Somatosphere and Post-Colonial Digital Humanities (DHPoco) and her book chapters have appeared in multiple edited collections.

"Allen Turner"Allen Turner

Game Development, Interactive Media, DePaul University

"The tomorrow that we dream: A conversation with Allen Turner on building worlds and creating narratives in games and play spaces"

November 5, 2020 | 4pm


In our current world where everything seems to be falling apart, worldbuilding may be a radical act. In this talk we'll explore the various ways we can create somatic and cognitive containers for experiences and empathy, how we set boundaries, and how we can use them to create new conversations and narratives for entertainment and positive growth.

An Afro-Indigenous game designer, storyteller, artist, dancer and author, Allen Turner believes in the power of play and story as fundamental, powerful medicines which shape our sense of self.

After working in the video game industry, and freelance storytelling, for over 15 years, Allen focused his design, storytelling, and cultural experience to create, and publish a table-top RPG called “Ehdrigohr: The Roleplaying Game.” which pulls from the myths and folklore of indigenous and tribal peoples from all over the world, looks through a Lakota lens, while exploring allegorical battles with depression, solitude, identity, and erasure. He has continued to explore the play conversations initiated in Ehdrigohr on his blog via fiction, musings, photography and additional writings in Ehdrigohr and in other table-top experiences he has created.

Currently, Allen teaches game design at DePaul University as faculty for the School of Design and Creative Director of the DePaul Originals Game Studio. This new game studio focuses on giving students the experience of being at a large studio, developing mastery, and working on a long term game project.

Outside of DePaul he uses game design concepts as a tool for examining personal narratives and empowerment with local communities and local urban youth.

Roopika RisamRoopika Risam, PhD

Secondary and Higher Education and English, Salem State University

"Beyond the Dots: Data Stories of Migration"

February 25, 2021 | 4pm


With the prodigious amount of data about contemporary migration currently available through sources like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, migration has been subject of numerous data visualizations. Rhetorical and technical choices made in these visualizations have positioned refugees and forced migrants as instigators of a “crisis.” In doing so, these forms of data storytelling displace the geo-political, colonial, and neo-colonial causes of migration onto refugees themselves, positioning them as “problems.” In this talk Risam explores the narrative dimensions of migrant data. What does it mean to tell migrant narratives through data? What kinds of migrant narratives do data-driven approaches facilitate and what narratives are obscured through data-driven approaches? And what kinds of data storytelling approaches foster the agency of migrants?

Roopika Risam is Chair of Secondary and Higher Education and Associate Professor of Education and English at Salem State University. Her research interests lie at the intersections of postcolonial and African diaspora studies, humanities knowledge infrastructures, and digital humanities. Risam is the author of New Digital Worlds: Postcolonial Digital Humanities in Theory, Praxis, and Pedagogy (2018), and co-editor of Intersectionality in Digital Humanities (2019) and The Digital Black Atlantic for the Debates in the Digital Humanities series (2021).

Annita LucchesiAnnita Lucchesi, PhD Student

School of Geography, Development, & Environment, Gender & Women's Studies, University of Arizona

"Mapping for Social Change: Decolonial and Anti-Oppression Mapping"

March 25, 2021 | 4pm


This presentation will explore ideas, methodologies, and practices of mapping for social change. Specifically, the presentation will discuss how map-making can be utilized in decolonial/anticolonial and anti-oppression movement organizing, why maps are powerful tools in such organizing, and how maps can mobilize us towards positive social change. We will explore examples of maps and map-based projects for social change, primarily addressing gender based violence and Indigenous self-determination, and conclude with a discussion of how to implement best practices in mapping for social change.

Annita Lucchesi is a researcher, scholar, and community organizer of Cheyenne and Italian descent, currently living on Wiyot territory in Northern California. Annita community engaged work and scholarly projects both are inspired by her experiences as a survivor of violence, and stem from a commitment to uplift other Indigenous survivors and those impacted by violence. Annita serves as founding Executive Director of Sovereign Bodies Institute (, a non-profit research institute dedicated to community-engaged research on gender and sexual violence against Indigenous people.

Annita is also a doctoral student at the University of Arizona, in the School of Geography, Development, & Environment, and is pursuing a minor in Gender & Women's Studies. She is an Indigenous Data Sovereignty Doctoral Scholar at UA's Native Nations Institute, and serves as a Board member for the UA Consortium on Gender-Based Violence. She earned her BA in Geography, with a minor in Global Poverty & Practice, from the University of California, Berkeley, and graduated from Washington State University with her MA in American Studies.

Her research interests include Indigenous and critical cartography, Indigenous feminisms, postcolonial geographies, Indigenous data sovereignty, femicide and gender-based violence, and Indigenous research methodologies. Her dissertation work examines the intersections of data, violence against Indigenous women and girls, and cartography, by studying how data on colonial sexual violence and mapping technologies are utilized in tandem to subjugate Indigenous women and girls and occupy Indigenous homelands. Hosted by the Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities, the Digital Storytelling Colloquium is a series of virtual events focused on the ethics, politics, and techniques of digital storytelling. Across all events, the vision of the colloquium is to build a community of inquiry and an incubator for ideas.