In Fall 2021, the Anti-Racist Digital Research (ARDR) Initiative pilot launched. The ARDR Initiative is a mini-grant program that supports early-stage digital scholarship projects that advance anti-racism and social justice in the humanities, arts, and humanistic social sciences. The pilot was met with an overwhelming response — from a competitive pool of over 30 applications, six project teams were awarded grants. This program was made possible through a partnership with the U-M Library, the College of Literature, Sciences, and Arts Technology Services, and the National Center for Institutional Diversity’s Anti-Racism Collaborative.

Awardees and Projects

Anti-HMoob Violence Report
PIs: Thao Nguyen (PhD Student in History and Women's and Gender Studies at UM-Ann Arbor), Choua Xiong and Maij Xiong (from Cia Siab, Inc. in La Crosse, WI). 

This community-driven project will produce a white paper and digital map that tracks, documents, and understands the impact of violence against HMoob (Hmong) people within the most densely populated states of CA, MN, and WI between 1975 to 2019. It contributes significantly to the anti-racist agenda of Asian American organizations, scholars, and activists combatting the longstanding anti-Asian discourse and violence that has increased due to COVID-19. The project also contributes to the push for disaggregated data that clarifies the inequalities experienced by more impoverished Asian American ethnic groups. The project will be hosted by Cia Siab, Inc. (La Crosse, WI), a HMoob cultural and domestic violence and sexual assault agency, which will facilitate local and statewide HMoob community empowerment through education and promote policy change for greater Asian American protection in Wisconsin. Funding for the Anti-HMoob Violence Report will provide unmet technical support, impact real communities, and create changes to the understanding of hate crime documentation and activism.


The First 100: 50 Years of Chicanas Changing Knowledge, the Digital Archive
PI: Lorena Chambers (Postdoctoral Fellow in History and American Culture at UM-Ann Arbor), and Dr. Margaret Salazar Porzio (Curator, Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History)

Of the 36.6 million Americans of Mexican descent in the United States, only 104 — a dismal .00000284 percent — of Mexican American women hold a doctorate in history. The First 100: 50 Years of Chicanas Changing Knowledge engages in anti-racist work by confronting the gap between the rhetoric of diversity, equality, and inclusion in the academy and the organizational culture that structurally excludes Mexican American women in the humanities. This project will showcase how Chicana historians transform the way we do and understand history, as well as who is included in US history. The First 100 brings together a multi-generational team of Latinas to document the field of Mexican America history by interviewing the women who have lived it and shaped it. The ARDR Initiative will provide support to create a website prototype to feature oral histories and short-format video productions to eventually grow into a larger digital presence.


Detroit River Story Lab: Planning the Architecture of a Collective Memory Commons
PIs: David Porter (Faculty in English and Comparative Literature at UM-Ann Arbor)

U-M’s Detroit River Story Lab is an interdisciplinary initiative that partners with regional organizations to reconnect communities with the river and local stories of resiliency, resistance, and resolve. Its overarching goal is to re-center the Detroit River as a foundational touchstone of regional cultural identity by harnessing the power of place-based narrative to amplify marginalized voices and activate public spaces as sites of equitable and inclusive collective memory. Central to the long-term vision is the establishment of a Detroit River Digital Memory Commons, dedicated to collecting, archiving, and amplifying the stories of past and present-day riverside communities. The ambitious place-based digital humanities project we envision will be structured around a web-based platform featuring an interactive timeline, a participatory mapping interface, and hyperlocal, ethnographic story banks. This digital platform will be accessible online and also in situ, by means of QR codes, and a network of interactive, multi-media site installations in public spaces up and down the river. The ARDR Initiative will provide funding and support to help plan and design, in consultation with community partners, the digital archive and user interface that will enable the project team to meet increasing community demand for a robust, accessible, and inclusive narrative infrastructure for the Detroit River corridor.


Recollecting Flint’s Historic Southside
PI: Vickie Larsen (Faculty in English at UM-Flint)

The Southside of Flint is an essential space in the history of rustbelt America; most cities in the urban North have a Southside. This small neighborhood was one of two predominantly Black neighborhoods in Flint during the first three-quarters of the 20th century. Its schools, churches, residential streets, and businesses bustled with Black cultural life during the period when federal redlining maintained strong color lines in the North. Like so many of the other successful African American centers of the North, the Southside was razed in the name of “urban renewal” in the early 1970s and now lies beneath the I-69 and I-475 freeway interchange. Its displaced residents are now quite elderly and their artifacts and memories of this neighborhood stand as a testament to the value of African American community, culture, and history in what is now a majority Black city with a disorientingly white historical narrative. This project gathers, catalogs, preserves, and remediates documents, images, artifacts, oral histories (in audio and video), art, music, and performance with and from residents of the Southside. Digitized materials will be used for spatialized visualization of neighborhood narratives, for critical and creative curation and exhibition, for public exhibition at the Sloan Museum in Flint, and for traditional cultural research. One of the primary goals for the project team in 2022, which will be supported by the ARDR Initiative, is the development of anti-racist protocols for handling and storing cultural heritage narratives and objects, which will be informed by Indigenous research methodologies and non-custodial archival models.


Digital Archive of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center 
PI: Stephen Ward (Faculty in the Department of African and Afroamerican Studies and the Residential College at UM-Ann Arbor)

This project will work toward creating a digital archive for the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, a nonprofit organization located in the home of these longtime Detroit activists. James and Grace Lee Boggs were active participants in the major racial and social justice movements of the 20th century, and they stand as central figures in Detroit’s rich history of anti-racist struggles. They have influenced generations of grassroots organizers, and they continue to inspire contemporary activists and movements. Founded in 1995, the Boggs Center carries forward their ideas about social change and their legacy of anti-racist activism, supporting or helping to launch a range of local protest movements, community-building activities, and grassroots organizations in Detroit. The project will organize and digitize an array of materials that have emerged from these activities, as well as material documenting the activism and thought of James and Grace Lee Boggs.


It Was All A Dream: A Digital Ethnohistory of Contemporary Political Insurgency at Florida A&M University
PI: Charles H.F. Davis III (Faculty in the School of Education at UM-Ann Arbor)

This project proposes a “digital ethnohistory,” an alternative and activist new media project that curates digital artifacts from the student activism and political insurgency organized by Florida A&M University students in the wake of the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012. The goal is to create a more sustainable, interactive record of what social movement schools broadly refer to as “communities of memory” from which activists can learn and mobilize in their own organizing years into the future. Specifically, the project builds on a near-decade ethnographic study examining the Dream Defenders, a social movement organization co-founded by students and alumni of Florida A&M University, one of the nation’s preeminent Historically Black Colleges & Universities.