Guest Lecture: Angel David Nieves

Thu, 03/14/2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Ehrlicher Room, 3100 North Quad

The 'Trouble' With Archives: Documenting Human Rights VIolations from Apartheid-Era South Africa


Nieves will discuss his 18+ years of work building multi-modal archives at museums, cultural heritage organizations, colleges and universities, and community based engagements across the Global South, particularly southern and eastern Africa, and the U.S. South. Over the past year, funded by a one-year $100,000 planning grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Nieves has been working to establish a new federated publishing cooperative for 3D scholarship and digital editions. As Co-PI he is working collaboratively with 16+ project partners including faculty, librarians, technology developers, university presses, and a national professional organization, designing guidelines for publishing 3D models and objects online, and developing field-based standards in the review process for project submission, and comprehensive review guidelines for promotion and tenure. This year-long effort includes faculty and staff from San Diego State University (SDSU), UC-Santa Cruz, UCLA, Maastricht University (Netherlands), University of Southern California, Stanford University Press, the University of Georgia Press, the University of Illinois Press, the University of Michigan Press, and the American Historical Association (AHA).

Nieves’s 3D edition, Apartheid Heritages: A Spatial History of South Africa’s Townships (, will bring together 3D modeling, immersive virtual technologies and digital ethnography methodologies documenting a history of human rights violations within the unique urban landscape of Soweto, South Africa. In particular, the project looks at four interconnected historical events in the city’s development: the “pre-history” of two Iron-Age sites there; the founding of the area later known as Soweto in 1904; the Student Uprisings of 1976; and the death of a queer 14-year-old anti-apartheid activist there in 1988/1989.  

Writing a series of interconnected spatial histories – the four historical narratives include supporting secondary and primary source documents in this digital archive – of past events in Soweto’s history requires narrating change over time while also including the spatial dimensions of political and social change, class relations, gender relations, and cultural change. In addition, efforts to document Soweto’s spatial relations, using an intersectional and feminist analytical framework, have not been attempted before in a book-length digital monograph. Through the incorporation of multiple scales of spatial and historical analysis (through micro and macro-historical reconstructions) the project virtually re-creates the detailed histories of the local, domestic, and residential in Soweto’s unique race-based spatial history.

Speaker Bio

Angel David Nieves, B.Arch, M.A., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of History and Digital Humanities at San Diego State University (SDSU) in the Area of Excellence (AoE) in Digital Humanities and Global Diversity. He was Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Digital Humanities Initiative (DHi) at Hamilton College, a digital leader among elite liberal arts colleges in the Northeast (see, As Co-Director there (w/Janet Simons), he raised over $2.7 million dollars in foundation and institutional support for digital humanities scholarship at Hamilton. Nieves was Presidential Visiting Associate Professor at Yale University (2017-2018) in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program and was an affiliate in the Yale Digital Humanities Laboratory (DHLab) there. He previously taught in the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at the University of Maryland, College Park, from 2003-2008. He is also a Research Associate Professor in the Department of History at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Nieves’s scholarly work and community-based activism engage critically with issues of race and the built environment in cities across the Global South. Nieves’s digital edition entitled, Apartheid Heritages: A Spatial History of South Africa’s Townships ( brings together 3D modelling, immersive technologies, and digital ethnography documenting human rights violations in apartheid-era South Africa (Stanford University Press, under consideration). His co-edited book, “We Shall Independent Be:” African American Place-Making and the Struggle to Claim Space in the United States, was published in 2008. His recent book, An Architecture of Education: African American Women Design the New South, was published by the the University of Rochester Press for their series Gender and Race in American History (June, 2018). Nieves is also currently working on a new volume (w/Senier & McGrail) in the Debates in the Digital Humanities Series and completed a special collaborative issue of American Quarterly (Fall 2018) on DH in the field of American Studies. He is co-editor (w/Kim Gallon, Purdue) of a new book series at the University of Georgia Press, The Black Spatial Humanities: Theories, Methods, and Praxis in Digital Humanities. He serves on the Modern Language Association’s (MLA) Committee on Information Technology (2016- 2019). He sits on the boards of the New York State’s Humanities Council (2017-2019), the Society for American City and Regional Planning History (2018-2021), the Association for Computers and the Humanities (2018-2022), and on the Executive Committee of the Journal of Interactive Technology and Pedagogy (JITP)His digital research and scholarship have been featured on and in Newsweek International.