Reflecting on the Importance of Our Work

By: Michael McGill
Away from the classroom, theses, and dissertations, the Decoding Origins team has had an opportunity to reflect on the importance of our work and how it relates to the elusive "bigger picture." Sometimes as academics, we tend to get so bogged down in our work that we forget to take a step back and think about why we're doing what we do. It is important to step away from the algorithms, the mountain of source material, and gigabytes of data and remember that we are retracing the origins of real people, who lead real lives and had identities stripped away from them in the injustice of the slave trade. This project is about those people. Dr. Katrina Keefer, the Co-Principal Investigator on the team said of the project: "Injustice of any kind is something I am always affected and angered by, and this is a chance to do my part to facilitate the righting of one of history's worst crimes." The fact that we live in a digital age where historians can now incorporate different interdisciplinary practices into their work is hugely important, and these new frontiers are making retracing the past easier and more accessible everyday. We are excited everyday to be at the forefront of a new relationship between the humanities, sciences, and fine arts, and want to recognize all of the great work being done by our collaborators, contributors, and other emerging scholars!