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FY-Only/UROP: Auditing the U.S. Heritage Landscape


Term:

Fall

Department:

11: Urban Studies and Planning

Faculty Supervisor:

Catherine D'Ignazio

Faculty email:

dignazio@mit.edu

Apply by:

Rolling Basis

Contact:

dataplusfeminism@mit.edu

Project Description

# students: 5 The death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, USA, led to sustained protests, rallies, and public outcry against systemic racism. People turned out in public spaces, and they also took action to contest and transform those public spaces both literally and symbolically: A two-block street section in Washington D.C. was renamed to "Black Lives Matter Plaza". A statue of Christopher Columbus in Boston was beheaded. Protesters and right-wing militiamen clashed in New Mexico in front of a statue of conquistador Juan de Oñate. What these recent flashpoints have in common is that they are using the heritage landscape of the city—its collection of commemorative street names and monuments—as a site of contestation. Why has the heritage landscape, typically part of the unobtrusive backdrop of urban space, become such a locus of collective attention? The Data + Feminism Lab is creating a national-scale big data archive and set of data visualizations about monuments and streets that are being contested in the U.S. context. Our goal is to use data visualization to highlight inequities as well as sites of transformation in the heritage landscape. We also plan to make our large-scale dataset available to researchers, journalists, and community organizers. In Fall 2020, the Data + Feminism Lab will assemble a cohort of 5-7 undergraduate student researchers to help us audit the heritage landscape in the U.S. We are using traditional research methods, such as desk research and archival searches to determine who a place is named after, as well as more automated methods of collecting information, such as web scraping and connecting with APIs. Each student will choose either a person ("Christopher Columbus", "Harriet Tubman") or a place ("Navajo Nation", "Philadelphia metro region"). They will research that person in the national heritage landscape and built environment, find out where sites with their names are being contested, undertake spatial analysis, and data visualization to present their results. We see this cohort experience as both a learning opportunity, a research opportunity, and a community-building opportunity for first-year students. We will have a bi-weekly all-lab meeting that the students will participate in, so they will be exposed to the other research in the lab as well as the work of grad students at various levels (masters and Ph.D.). Students will meet weekly as a group as well as work on lunches and events that help build community. As the culmination of their research, each student will write a data visualization and storytelling piece for the Data + Feminism Lab blog that details what they found and how they integrate that knowledge in relation to current events, their own identity, and the U.S. heritage landscape. Some logistics: This opportunity is for first-year students only. BIPOC students, women, and trans* students especially encouraged to apply. Estimated hours per week: 5-10 Time period: Fall 2020 Wage rate: $13/hour, Maximum of $1,900 per student This is a remote opportunity. Required documents: CV 200-500 word statement about why you are interested in the position and any relevant experience

Pre-requisites

No required skills. We seek people that have an interest in U.S. history, big data, data visualization, the built environment, and social justice.