Announcing the Protest Spaces Research Network

(This post originally appeared on the Protest Spaces Research Network Blog)

In February 2014, Jared Donnelly and I sat in the audience at a conference in Lisbon, Portugal – “Resisting War in the Twentieth Century” – and wondered what would happen if historians started to consider space more systematically in protest movement research. What would a map of all the protest events we studied across dozens of archives look like? What could we learn from it? The Protest Spaces mapping pilot project was born.

Four years later, it is clear that the question of space in protest movement research is much broader than mapping. The Protest Spaces Mapping Project will remain a cornerstone of this interdisciplinary network; the first of what I hope will be many projects to come. I envision the network as a place for participants to discuss potential projects, collaborate, and share skills, regardless of their primary projects. In the case of peace movement research, Norwegian sociologist Johan Galtung argues “the peace researcher has no fatherland.”[1] Not only are many activist networks transnational, researching activists and activism is inherently a transnational endeavor. The digital turn enables us to make the analysis and dissemination of protest movement research a transnational effort as well.

This is a call to researchers, archivists, developers, activists, and students of any discipline interested in the intersection of spatial humanities, digital humanities, and protest movement research.

The Protest Spaces Research Network will connect individuals across disciplinary, national, and professional boundaries to create a research community dedicated to exploring the spaces of protest. One of the main goals of this network is to conceptualize the meanings of “space” for protest research, ranging from physical locations of protest events to virtual spaces and archival spaces.

The first task of the Protest Spaces Research Network will be to organize a conference to assess the current state of transnational protest movement research and foster connections between participants with existing or planned projects. I will post all updates on the conference on the network site and on Twitter @protestspaces.

Please complete this form if you would like to join or receive updates from the Protest Spaces Research Network. Contact me at with any questions or inquiries.


  1. Quoted in Heikki Patomaki, “The Challenge of Critical Theories: PeaceResearch at the Start of the New Century,” Journal of Peace Research 38, No. 6(2001): 730.

GSA 2018: Politics of Protest & Gender, PBL & DH

The German Studies Association conference is well underway – you can follow the #gsa2018 and #gsadh to keep up with all the exciting panels.

I will update this post with a conference debrief, but for now here is a link to my own slides on digital humanities and pedagogy. I have included links to syllabi, assignments, and rubrics that I use to teach digital methods at Cleveland State University. Feel free to contact me with any questions!

UPDATE: You can read more about the digital humanities research seminar here.

Politics of Peace and Gender + Digital Humanities

*This post originally appeared on the Peace & Change Blog on July 23, 2018.

For a couple years now, department colleagues have encouraged me to find a space where my research in protest movements and gender intersected with my interests in digital humanities and pedagogy. The product of those conversations is a course I offered in Fall 2017, “The Politics of Peace and Gender.” Excited by the possibility of sharing my passion for these fields with my students, I had three main goals:

    1. Focus the course on the interdisciplinary work of geographers, political scientists, sociologists, historians, anthropologists, musicologists, and activists;
    2. Emphasize the transferable skills our department and the AHA argue are an essential part of history education;
    3. Pilot this course as a methods course for a future certificate or minor program in digital humanities at CSU.

Here is the description from the syllabus: 

This course investigates perceptions of peace and gender in politics, drawing on insights from international relations and human rights history to study gendered conceptualizations of peace as “feminine” and assumptions that militarism and war are historically “masculine.” The chronology of the course begins with Bertha von Suttner’s pacifist novel Lay Down your Arms! (1889) and ends in the present day. Through primary and secondary research, students will evaluate the importance of gender analysis in the study of war and its opponents. In particular, this course emphasizes the various roles of men and women participating in protest events and the spaces they choose occupy. The course fosters a transnational perspective, highlighting different historical and geographical contexts such as 19th– century nationalism in Europe, the experience and aftermath of World War I, international debates around disarmament including nuclear disarmament, gendered violence during the dirty wars in Latin America, and more recent mass transnational protest events such as the Women’s March on Washington and the Occupy Movement. 

“Politics of Peace and Gender” enrolled 13 undergraduates, 2 graduate students, and 3 “Project 60” students. This was one of the most academically diverse groups of students I have ever taught in an upper-level history course. Not only did students range in technical ability, they came to the course from various majors and programs including Asian Studies, Black Studies, Education, English, Gender and Women’s Studies, History, Political Science, Psychology, and Social Studies. Early in the semester, I adopted the strategy of pulling key terms from our daily readings and posting them on the course chat (in this case we used university-supported Microsoft Teams). I also wrote the term list on the whiteboard in the classroom before each discussion. While I took attendance, students could walk to the board and put a checkmark next to the term(s) they wanted to be sure we reviewed during our session. This turned out to be a valuable exercise due to the interdisciplinary nature of both the materials and students. For instance, a term like “thick description” is familiar to history and anthropology students, but often unfamiliar to psychologists and others in the room.  

In order to emphasize transferable skills, I approached this course as a digital methods course where students created an Omeka exhibit on a protest event of their choice as a final project. I drew heavily on my experience with project-based learning (PBL) and used the student-created exhibits from the Colored Conventions Project as a model to design a series of weekly skill-based labs that provided a foundation for the final project. I thought carefully about the branding for this course, and ultimately decided to use the word “lab” for work sessions. While the idea of a laboratory is borrowed from STEM fields, I use it to emphasize that these sessions are a time to experiment with digital methods. I made a conscious effort to convey to my students that it was ok to stumble, or even fail, when creating digital content – just like many scientists.  

I love that digital humanities methods and projects challenge the assumption among academics and students that all assignments must represent a “finished” product. I stress to my students that it is fine to have work in progress. After all, academics present their own work at conferences before polishing ideas into an article or book. This is the reason why I grade labs separately from the final project (which deviates slightly from the traditional PBL model). My goal is to provide students with space to grow and, I hope, to be more courageous in their final project. Students were able to use network diagrams, maps, and other elements from their labs, but they were not required to use all of them in order to preserve the element of choice that is considered key to PBL.  

Project-based learning calls for a public product for the final projects. The “Politics of Peace and Gender,” student exhibits are posted on a public Omeka site. All students were required to present their exhibit at the DigitalCSU working group research showcase in our library at the end of the semester. At the time, I hosted the site as a subdomain on my own website. I am now in the process of working with the CSU library to archive this site on their servers to ensure sustainability and to link it more clearly to the university’s Bepress site, EngagedScholarship @ CSU. Students were evaluated according to this rubric. 

As a special topics course “Politics of Peace and Gender” was cross-listed for both undergraduate and M.A. students. Each M.A. student completed the Omeka exhibit and also wrote an academic blog post. You can read Katherine Behnke’s post on Bernadette Devlin on the Peace & Change blog. It’s an excellent example of how research for the digital exhibit revealed a significant gap in the historiography of a well-known protest event. 

Student exhibits covered topics from The 1919 May 4th Incident in China to Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland. You can view them all on 

Digital Humanities in Women’s and Gender Studies

In 2016, I sat down to evaluate digital media sites that focus on women’s and gender history. I soon realized there is no systematic way to search for digital projects. They are not cataloged by libraries or databases with the same methods use for traditional print publications and journals. I faced the problem of gathering information on a field that did not have a collective archival or institutional footprint.

This is the moment when this crowd-sourced list of Women’s and Gender History digital projects  was born. It is an effort to gather information on digital media in the field of women’s and gender history in one central space. Women’s and gender scholars often create close links with organizations and individuals beyond the academy. These projects are both a testament to those collaborations and nod to the reality that digital content is generally accessible to anyone with an internet connection. These project create a sense of community among users/readers even beyond the control of the project creators.

You might be wondering about the tech behind the list. It is a Google document that is set to “anyone with the link can edit.” I uploaded that link to the Google URL shortener in order to get some basic analytics and shared it widely on Twitter and other social media. There are many ways to crowd-source information like this, but I wanted to reach a wide audience and encourage participation, so I kept the tech level basic. I have often considered transferring the data into a content management system (CMS), but at this point in my career it is not a priority.

This list has grown over the course of my project, and I think it’s time to share it in this space as well. Feel free to add to list to spread the word about your own projects, learn about the growing field of digital media in women’s and gender history, and foster community among the diverse audience for such projects. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.