Spatial Humanities and Proposal Writing

The other day, my colleague Ryan and I finally sat down to discuss our co-proposal for the Spatial Humanities Institute being hosted in Indianapolis this summer. “Spatial Humanities…” we thought. “That sounds right up our alley.”

It turns out that the collective work that we’ve done nearly perfectly fits this Institute’s goals and motivations. We are engaging in geo-spatial technologies that can enhance traditional humanists’ understandings and depth of inquiry. We are both interested in cross disciplinary collaboration, and are committed to public scholarship via information dissemination and knowledge production.

Also, our work on Mapping Youth Journeys, a really amazing research project chaired by our adviser and our department chair, serves as a great example of how spatial technologies can increase the richness of cultural histories, personal narratives, and story telling, particularly with / for / through underserved communities. In my own case, the fact that we were working primarily with youth of color in Seattle’s Central District was an incredibly opportunity to collaborate and collect stories through geo-spatial technologies that would otherwise have been less apparent or vocal.

All in all, following our planning meeting, we both felt so excited about this Institute that we were even starting to scheme the logistics of it! (Can anyone say, “presumptive”??) I went promptly to my new favorite writing spot on campus (Allen Library North, Wing that looks out to Smith Hall, well lit, large tables, and, usually, no one is talking, glass walls on both sides so it is well lit and airy feeling…) and banged out a proposal draft in record time.

I truly hope Ryan and I receive the opportunity to go to this summer Institute. It would be a fabulous chance to meet other faculty and graduate students asking similar questions. Personally, I would get to develop my technical skills and continue to learn more about the technology side of the questions I am interested in. For instance, one of the issues Ryan and I write extensively about in this proposal is to gain a better understanding of the social impacts of geo-spatial technologies. Obviously, Ryan already thinks about this all the time, but it is still fairly new to me.

That said, I think about it more every day, especially in TA-ing an Urban GIS class right now and amidst the current PIPA / SOPA debates and protests. It will be incredibly interesting to see how this all pans out, and if it has any impact on things like the Institute this summer. Hopefully we get the chance to go, and I can report back afterwards!

Until then, hopefully I won’t get too distracted from thesis writing by my new excitement over proposal writing. For instance, I just saw a Call for Papers for a perfect session for me… in Edinburgh…that I know I cannot afford to go to. But, apply anyway? Why not.

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