Representing Migration through Digital Humanities

Wednesday, December 4, 2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Human migration is difficult to represent. Its inherent transience often renders its memory ephemeral.

Digital humanities tools are now being used to creatively visualize human migration. The digitization of archival databases as well as digital mapping tools, timelines and storytelling applications make it possible to visualize and interact with data and stories in exciting ways and can open new conversations about the people, places and politics that are central to the long histories of human movement across the planet.

A Bass Connections project team, Representing Migration through Digital Humanities, is extending the work of Duke's Representing Migration Humanities Lab and building on a Data+ summer project through two linked projects: Remembering the Middle Passage and Linguistic Landscapes.

  • Remembering the Middle Passage is putting together a map of where the deaths of enslaved persons occurred in the Atlantic from approximately 1750-1850. While research has been done into the total number of deaths in the middle passage, no one has focused on where those deaths occurred. In doing so, this project will generate original data on the slave trade. Learn more about this work.
  • Linguistic Landscapes is creating an interactive map of the Triangle area, starting with Durham, that will capture locations and distribution of multilingual signs on store signboards and shop fronts, billboards, notices, posters, advertisements, LED and neon signs, among other examples. This project builds on the growing body of work in the field of linguistic landscapes, which focuses on visual representations of language in urban spaces.


  • Charlotte Sussman, Associate Professor of English, Duke University
  • Jane Harwell, Ph.D. Student in English, Duke University
  • Perry Sweitzer, Ph.D. Student in Religion, Duke University
  • Daisy Zhan, Undergraduate Student, Haverford College
  • Dominika Baran, Associate Professor of English, Duke University


This presentation takes place at the John Hope Franklin Center, 2204 Erwin Road in Durham. Part of the Wednesdays at the Center series, it is sponsored by the John Hope Franklin Center and the Duke University Center for International and Global Studies. A light lunch will be served. Parking is available in nearby Trent Rd. and Erwin Rd. parking decks. The series provides 1-hour parking vouchers to guests.


Meredith Watkins (

Representing Migration event.

More Information
Middle Passage.

John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies