The Early Caribbean Digital Archive (ECDA) is a highly interactive digital scholarly lab for the collaborative research and study of pre-20th century Caribbean literature. The ECDA seeks to engage scholars and students in a shared, critical study of the textual, material, and cultural histories of the Caribbean by providing them innovative digital technologies and platforms for generating new and understudied knowledges of the Caribbean’s rich body of materials. Our approach to this digital archive solves major challenges facing scholars of Caribbean literature; currently no such pan-Caribbean digital or analogue archive of pre-20th century materials exists. ECDA aims to foster a shared and informed engagement with the Caribbean and its literary, aesthetic, cultural, and political impact on the study of the pre-20th century Atlantic world. The project will not only preserve original texts, but will also reframe the literary history of the early Caribbean as one where something new is preserved—voices beyond the imperial history of the Caribbean.

Our Omeka installation is the first phase in the ongoing development of the ECDA’s digital text analytics research lab. The ECDA project, broadly speaking, seeks to establish strong partnerships with a wide range of publics interested in developing digital analytics, digitization techniques, and digital research methodologies that will benefit a shared and informed engagement with the Caribbean and its literary, aesthetic, cultural, and political impact on the study of the pre-C20th century Atlantic world. The ECDA | Omeka installation provides scholars, teachers, and students with an immediate opportunity to begin working with these valuable Caribbean materials, where they will participate directly in the collaborative building of both the ECDA digital archive project and a shared Caribbean studies scholarly practice.

The digitization of these materials serves an ethical imperative for making these important cultural histories and otherwise difficult to access materials available to a broad and critically engaged audience. The practice of digitizing and performing digital analyses of these materials raises important questions about both digital humanities practices and methodologies as well as practical questions regarding the establishing of cross–cultural, transnational, multi-institutional, transdisciplinary partnerships in the building of such a massive project. Supported by NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks, we have also partnered with the Digital Library of the Caribbean.

The project team includes Professors Elizabeth Maddock Dillon and Nicole N. Aljoe, as well as Ph.D. students Benjamin Doyle and Elizabeth Hopwood.