(Remote internship opportunity for anyone who has experience with digital archives, digital preservation, or web development)
Title: SeaGrass: Stories and Writers of The Bahamas
List of Collaborators:
- Tiffany Austin, Project Coordinator, School of English Studies, University of the Bahama
SeaGrass: Stories and Writers of the Bahamas is a digital project that will archive the oral and literary traditions of the Bahamas. One of the greatest resources that a country has is its cultural history. This project enacts a call to cement in public memory not only the cultural objects of Bahamians but also the stories, literature, and histories that make up the cultural narrative of the Bahamas. This work is directly connected to national development because of its mission to record and archive oral and literary culture in the Bahamas.
With SeaGrass, we will launch a project for the acquisition, preservation, and dissemination of oral and literary narratives in the Bahamas. The mission of the project will be twofold: 1) We will collect biographical information pertaining to contemporary and historical Bahamian authors in order to create a reference database for students, teachers, and citizens of the Bahamas. 2) We will collect oral narratives by Bahamian community members to create an archive of oral storytelling. The two prongs of this project will work in conjunction with each other to create the parameters for the archive. The digital form will allow for the project to continue and grow from its initial phase to include more Bahamian artists and storytellers.
The first section of the archive on established writers will serve as a source for Bahamian students, teachers, and citizens. It will also be freely available on the web for international scholars and students who may be studying Bahamian writers. We will provide biographical information and a list of works for each Bahamian author featured on the site. The goal is to be comprehensive and include authors from the past and contemporary authors; the comprehensiveness will be built over time so we will start with contemporary writers important
to the Bahamian and UB communities and build from there. In addition to basic information about the authors, further content for each author could contain sample work, interviews, images, and other articles.
The second section of the project will engage the larger community by recording oral narratives from community members. In the initial stage of the project, we will record oral histories and narratives from community members in specific locations, such as the Gambier and Adelaide communities. As the project continues, it will be expanded to include communities around the country. We will pilot this oral history collection project in New Providence and one location on the family islands during the initial phase of the project. Additionally, we will be able to incorporate assignments into our classes where students record and document oral narratives. This project is modeled after storytelling collection projects in the United States, such as StoryCorps. The goal of StoryCorps is not only to collect stories but also to highlight stories from populations who are not regularly represented on the larger national scale. The focus on oral narratives is an important part of this project because it recognizes the orality of the Bahamian culture and will give voice to people who are not as comfortable or practiced at representing themselves in print.
The entire digital archive acts as a repository by storing hypermedia materials to allow long term access to the public. This project aids in the preservation of The Bahamas’ oral and literary traditions as well as disseminating knowledge about contemporary Bahamian writers. This project will build the Bahamas’ national reputation as one with a robust oral and literary tradition.
Proposed Methodology and Data Analysis:
We initially will collect the information to be documented within the archive. This includes recording interviews through video of the storytellers and contemporary writers, obtaining biographical information of both parties, excerpts of works, and photographs. When appropriate, we will also include music audio and artwork related to the writers’ thematic emphases. We then will archive this information and materials on a website titled SeaGrass: Stories and Writers of The Bahamas.
School of English Studies
University of the Bahamas