Public Launch of Digital Portobelo

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Renee Alexander Craft, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies and the Curriculum in Global Studies, and one of two inaugural DIL/IAH Faculty Fellows, publicly launched her digital humanities project, Digital Portobelo: Art + Scholarship + Cultural Preservation. This collaborative project was built with the Digital Innovation Lab using DH Press.

Renee Alexander CraftThe project was unveiled at a two-part lecture/presentation, “The Devil is in the Details: Engaged Qualitative Research and the Digital Humanities.” This launch event focused on the “front stage” and “behind the scenes” processes that created Digital Portobelo, an interactive online collection of ethnographic interviews, photos, videos, artwork, and archival material that illuminate the rich culture and history of Portobelo — a small town located on the Caribbean coast of the Republic of Panama best known for its Spanish colonial heritage, its centuries old Black Christ festival, and an Afro-Latin community who call themselves and their cultural performance tradition “Congo.”

In the first part of the event, Alexander Craft talked about how she came to study Portobelo, how her research has evolved over time, and how she developed the digital project in tandem with her monograph, When the Devil Knocks: The Congo Tradition and the Politics of Blackness in 20th Century Panama. She shared triumphs and challenges, and stressed the deeply collaborative nature of her work.

In the second part, Pam Lach, Project Manager for Digital Portobelo, deconstructed the project, revealing the processes and workflows developed to create the project. Her PowerPoint, along with all additional resources for those interested in creating similar digital oral history projects, is available at and

This project received support through an inaugural Digital Innovation Lab/Institute for the Arts and Humanities Faculty Fellowship, a program of the Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative, which is supported by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Check out Digital Portobelo: Art + Scholarship + Cultural Preservation!