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About Digital Black Girls

Digital Black Girls (DBG) contributes to cultural studies broadly at the nexus of everyday life, the digital, and identity categories such as race/ethnicity, gender, class, etc. DBG responds to methodological needs in the fields of digital studies and Black studies. One of the primary challenges to conducting research in digital studies is the ephemeral nature of the content. Saving a link to content does not ensure permanent access. By collecting and archiving digital material, DBG addresses the need for digital studies scholars to have ongoing access to content for analysis. For Black Studies, DBG adds to archives of Black lives. Because so much of Black history has been lost and/or buried as a result of archival erasure, this project serves as a way to document and preserve Black stories, histories, and memories. DBG will be a valuable resource to scholars who depend on archival material because it will compile historical public domain artifacts and contemporary digital media artifacts into one centralized location. Interdisciplinary scholarship has become integral to the functions of universities, and DBG stands to bolster interdisciplinary scholarship and collaboration by enhancing the resources available to scholars in a number of interdisciplinary fields and areas of inquiry, including, but not limited to: Black Studies, Media Studies, American Studies, and Childhood Studies. Additionally, the archival structure of DBG makes it useful to scholars in more traditional disciplines such as History, English, Anthropology, and Sociology. Finally, because DBG will be housed as a university affiliated project, it will uphold high ethical standards around collecting, storing, and exhibiting material. These ethical practices will be integral to continued conversations and scholarship regarding ethical practices within digital studies. Both team members have done research that contributes to the overall goals and understandings of the need for DBG. Ashleigh Wade’s dissertation and current book manuscript research demonstrates that Black girls are creating cultural products about their everyday experiences that need to be preserved as artifacts of 21st century life and its sociopolitical undercurrents. Aria Halliday’s research has explored the proliferation of Black girl protagonists in film, television shows, literature and on social media since the early 2000s, theorizing the community-building labor that Black girls contribute to and sustain beyond national boundaries as a “black girl epistemology.” Our individual research projects converge around the challenges in finding Black girls’ stories in more traditional archival resources and having an efficient way to store data. We have also both presented at conferences where other people doing similar work have expressed these same challenges. Therefore, the research that we have already done not only highlights the significance of Black girls’ cultural production to understanding media ecologies and Black life, but it also points to a significant methodological need within emergent interdisciplinary areas of inquiry.