The past few weeks at the Studio have been a unique learning experience as I now have more familiarity and better working proficiency with Audacity and WordPress—tools that I am using in my project. Since I am building a multimedia archive of the stories of South Asians residing in the Middle East, I have conducted telephone interviews with half-a-dozen people. These interviews were conducted in three languages (English, Hindi, and Malayalam). Translating and transcribing these interviews have certainly taken much more time than I had expected. Along the way, I found a collection of short stories about the migrant population in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). My reading of the book Temporary People followed by an interview with its author Deepak Unnikrishnan was instructive not only for the archive, but also for my dissertation research about migrant media in the UAE.
How do we chart the migration experiences of people and present them in a way that is visually engaging and potentially useful for research? One way to do so is through a map, which shows the geographical axes displaying an approximate path along which migration has happened and then linking that with the corresponding people. Because most of the “audience” for this project would ostensibly be located in the Global South, I wanted the website to be lightweight, yet pleasing to the eye. Rob Shepard at the Studio suggested that the Leaflet mapping tool would meet such a requirement. The next steps are to figure out the background and font themes so that the entire thing looks aesthetic. I will be working with Ethan DeGross to polish and beautify the archive without necessarily making the webpage slower to load.
With regard to the relationship of the archive to scholarship, it is interesting to see the myriad ways in which people have articulated the meanings of home and belonging as well as the role of media in doing so. I look forward to gathering more interview data and then analyze the transcripts from a media and migration studies perspective. The final output, I hope, would be a journal article that would add to my existing research.
As an aside, in the last few weeks, I was also able to build a research cum teaching portfolio with some assistance from Ethan. The portfolio is now live and it can be accessed here.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to the University of Iowa Graduate College and the Library Studio staff for their help in different ways because of which I was able to kick-start this ambitious project.
University of Iowa