Fall 2020 Lab Notes from the Director of LifexCode

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“This summer, I (Jessica Marie Johnson, Assistant Professor) had the pleasure of launching LifexCode: Digital Humanities Against Enclosure, a digital practice lab committed to exploring and creating public scholarship at the intersection of history, Black/ethnic Studies, and social justice.

Joined by Christina Thomas as program manager, LifexCode offers “a grammar of refusal and a language of freedom for the [digital] humanities.” Through the “Taller,” workshops, incubators, public events, creative projects, peer mentoring, and more, LifexCode incubates community accountable, decolonial, and antiracist projects and praxis in digital form. It is public scholarship in service of the human in our humanities and accountable to an ethics of justice, reparation, and care. Our guiding principles were informed by the 2019 Loophole of Retreat symposium and exhibit at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum organized by Simone Leigh, Tina Campt, and Saidiya Hartman.

The Fall 2020/Spring 2021 guiding keyword is INSURGENCY.

Much of the heavy lifting over the last few months has been in the hands of of LifexCode’s graduate student members, hailing from University of Chicago, Harvard, University of California at Berkeley, and Johns Hopkins. These students have spent hours researching, collaborating, writing, and building a community and collaborative scholarly practice. Delving deep into Black history, Black studies, and Black digital humanities, they have:

  • Designed, hosted and co-hosted over eleven workshops and public talks. More than 480 people from around the world registered for the fall workshops alone. 
  • Explored hundreds of archival documents either for digitization (Keywords: Blassingame) or already digitized (Keywords: Marronage, LA Colonial)
  • Built libraries of secondary scholarship for further study (Taller Electric Marronage: Fugitive Library)
  • Made connections with archivists, librarians, and publishers around the country
  • Collaborated on public projects (Taller Electric Marronage) and on group research
  • Published projects (Taller Electric Marronage: #SayHerName Memorial, Fugitive Handbook, Map of the Fugitive South) and continue work on others in progress (Rachel Flowers archive, Black Church documentary)

They have made this first semester of LifexCode a tremendous success. I want to thank them for their work and highlight some of their achievements.”

~Jessica Marie Johnson

Read the full note from the director.