Saturday, August 11, 2018

New Class with MALAS and @SDSU: SPATIAL HUMANITIES | Professor Angel David Nieves | History 680 & MALAS 600A

click to enlarge; *source below
HIST 680 (cross-listed w/MALAS-600A)
Spatial Humanities 
Dr. Angel David Nieves  
Department of History AoE in Digital Humanities and Global Diversity 
San Diego State University (SDSU) 
M, 4:00-6:40pm, AL-566 


Spatial humanities relies upon powerful geospatial technologies and methods to explore new questions about the relationship of space (physical, imagined, manmade or otherwise) to human behavior. It represents a bridging across disciplines, with history, archaeology, literary studies, women’s studies, queer studies, ethnic studies, and cultural studies, to name a few. This seminar course introduces graduate students to the theory and methods of the spatial humanities, while examining the tools, theories, and methodologies of social justice. Engaging with spatial theory and learning technical methodologies students will learn to develop an understanding of the research questions and tools available in this new field of scholarly and applied inquiry while grappling with issues of social justice. Students will work throughout the semester in project-based learning grounded in spatial, intersectional, and critical race theories. 


Spatial humanities has transformed the work of researchers, enabling profound considerations of space in relationship to human behavior and culture across time and place. Art history, literature, history, philosophy, and religion – all notable fields from across the humanities – have benefited from scientific and quantitatively oriented technologies and tools to better understand the intersections between space and the human condition. It is particularly timely now to question space in relation to African & LatinX descended people’s ability to traverse and negotiate spaces in western societies. The history of Black and Brown bodies and American public and private space is particularly problematical as the presence of POC (People of Color) has been largely unwanted during long stretches of American history. Indeed, both geographical and social spatial differentiation in the United States and the larger western world has largely been predicated on racial difference, exclusion, segregation, and genocide. 

These questions will inform our work over the breadth of the course:

 • How do the spatial humanities and American/Ethnic Studies work together to posit and practice a different way of knowing and imagining the world?
 • How do racial identities impose a certain framework on our understanding of space?
 • How can the spatial humanities help us experience the lived realities of Black/Brown bodies?
 • How do maps/mapping technologies reflect and/or counter the realities and dynamism of Black & Brown life?
 • How can spatial technologies provide us with a way of understanding the forms of inhumanity attributed to or placed upon Black/Brown people? 

 Course Texts & Readings (only some listed below): 

1. Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad (Random House, 2016). 
2. Andrew Wiseman, “When Maps Lie,” City Lab. 
3. David J. Bodenhamer, “The Potential of Spatial Humanities.” 
4. Richard White, “What is Spatial History?” 
5. Tiffany Earley-Spadoni, "Spatial History, Deep Mapping and Digital Storytelling.” 
6. Dana McLeod, Jasmine Rault, and T.L. Cowan, “Speculative Praxis Towards a Queer Feminist Digital Archive.”

*Ingrid Hernández + Pieter Wisse, Nada Que Declarar, Tijuana 2016. Photo rights Ingrid Hernández and Pieter Wisse (see,

Originally from New York City, Angel Nieves holds a PhD in the History of Architecture and Urban Studies from Cornell University (2001). He comes to SDSU from Hamilton College, where he was the director of American Studies and Cinema and Media Studies and co-director of the Digital Humanities Initiative. Nieves' scholarship focuses on the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and technology in the U.S. and South Africa. He is the author of two historical monographs, including "An Architecture of Education: African American Women Design the New South" (U Rochester, 2018), plus a range of cutting edge digital history publications and platforms. These include Soweto’76 3D, which developed a digital archive and virtual reality site depicting politically charged locations such as the Winnie Mandela home in Soweto. He is working on a range of exciting digital collaborations as well as a digital book project entitled, "Apartheid Heritages: A Spatial History of South Africa’s Township’s." Professor Nieves has received support for his work from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation. Angel Nieves is also an award winning teacher and mentor. He teaches courses in digital history, urban history and the histories of race, gender, sexuality and space in the U.S. and the global South, including Apartheid-era South Africa. Professor Nieves joins us as one of two new faculty affiliated with the Digital Humanities Area of Excellence!