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Purdue University
Postdoctoral Fellow in Data Curation for African American and Critical Data Studies

Position Description

The Purdue University African American Studies Program and the Purdue University Libraries seek applications for a two-year CLIR Postdoctoral Fellowship in Data Curation for African American Studies to develop critical scholarship about the intersection of data curation, data science, and the field of African American Studies. The fellow will be asked to initiate one or more data curation projects in collaboration with scholars associated with the African American Studies Research Center (AASRC) and faculty from the Purdue University Libraries. Using these projects as case studies, the fellow will work to identify critical frameworks and best practices that ensure an ethical, community-engaged, and justice- centered approach to data curation and data science applications within African American Studies research and collecting institutions, as well as engaging with data curators and data scientists across disciplines. Additionally, the fellow will be asked to contribute to African American – Critical Data Studies curriculum development, which may additionally contribute to several initiatives and certificate programs in the area of data management and curation, digital humanities, science & technology studies and the interdisciplinary educational efforts associated with the Integrated Data Science Initiative.

As part of its strategic plan, the AASRC intends to distinguish itself as a leading institution for the integration of African American Studies and data curation and digital humanities. The placement of a CLIR fellow at Purdue will support this mission, creating the opportunity for the AASRC to expand its intellectual impact, its educational mission, and influence in our communities. The unique placement of this African American Studies program at a STEM-centered institution such as Purdue creates a unique set of opportunities for developing truly interdisciplinary work that centers the contributions of African American Studies scholarship. Therefore, the AASRC and Purdue University Libraries seeks a fellow with a commitment to Critical Data Studies, the interdisciplinary field which considers and addresses the ethical, legal, socio-cultural, epistemological, and political aspects of data science, big data, algorithms, and digital infrastructure. A CLIR fellow with these interests will have the opportunity to work collaboratively toward developing new approaches to African American and African Diaspora studies that can respond to our global challenges.

The fellow will hold a joint appointment with African American Studies and Purdue University Libraries, working closely with faculty within African American Studies Research Center; faculty and students associated with the Critical Data Studies-Data Mine Learning Community; and library faculty, digital archivists, and data curators to further knowledge in these practices.

Throughout the course of the fellowship, the selected fellow will design one or more specific data curation projects in collaboration with Center faculty in their ongoing research. Potential data curation projects and scholarship include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Digitizing historical records of enslaved people in 19th-century Puerto Rico
  • Digitizing and visualization of records on Black resorts in the United States
  • Cataloging data resources in the field of Africana gender and sexuality studies
  • Producing digital scholarship about the historical and contemporary role of black
    newspapers in Africa and the African Diaspora through the Black Press Research
  • Designing curricular pathways between humanities and data science through the
    Engaging Data in the Humanities Initiative
  • Producing scholarship related to the archive for the Philosophy Born of Struggle
    Conference and/or the Purdue Black Cultural Center Digital and Historical Archives.

The first year the fellow will focus their attention on developing their research agenda, participating in African American-Critical Data Studies curriculum development; and co-teaching a course and/or leading an undergraduate research experience for the Critical Data Studies-Data Mine learning community. The fellow will be expected to participate in monthly campus-wide Critical Data Studies Open Seminar Series and present related research in-progress at least once per year. The fellow will also plan a Critical Data Studies/Data Curation Panel for the African American Studies program’s 32nd Biennial Symposium of African American Culture and Philosophy (Fall 2020). During the second year, the fellow will continue to support initiatives at the intersection of African American Studies, Critical Data Studies and data curation; engage in independent and/or collaborative research; develop and teach one course at the intersection of African American Studies, Critical Data Studies and data curation.

Professional development, technical training, and networking will be encouraged and supported. In addition to CLIR postdoctoral fellowship professional development support there is potential for additional support for academic research conference travel and other professional development. In addition, the fellow will be encouraged to get involved in ongoing initiatives and training opportunities at Purdue offered by the Purdue Libraries, Archives and Special Collections; African American Studies Research Center; Critical Data Studies Collaborative; Integrated Data Science Initiative; the Center for Science of Information; Advanced Methodologies at Purdue (AMAP); Purdue Policy Research Institute and other Purdue Discovery Park Research Centers.

Required qualifications

  • Ph.D. completed within the past five years or before beginning the fellowship in an area related to African American or African Studies.

Desired qualifications

  • Some familiarity with digital humanities and/or data science
  • Experience working with unstructured and structured data
  • Ability and/or openness to work independently and collaboratively
  • Ability to communicate and work effectively with diverse and multidisciplinary groups


Purdue University, located in West Lafayette, Indiana, in the historic Wabash River valley, is one hour from Indianapolis and two hours from Chicago. Renowned nationally and internationally for its programs in engineering, science, agriculture, and business, the University has over 41,573 students and 16,761 employees. Purdue is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTTA). Purdue has the fourth highest enrollment of international students among public U.S. universities, with 11,288 undergraduate, professional, and graduate students in 2017. The greater Lafayette area provides diverse cultural, social, and recreational activities.

Purdue University is an EOE/AA employer. “Purdue University prohibits discrimination against any member of the University community on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or ancestry, genetic information, marital status, parental status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, disability, or status as a veteran.”

The Purdue African American Studies Research Center houses both an academic program and an interdisciplinary collective of researchers. The academic component of the AASRC consists of undergraduate courses that fulfill a major and minor, as well as graduate seminars leading to a certificate and concentration. Courses and seminars are taught by our award-winning core and affiliate faculty within their research specialties across the humanities and social sciences.

Our faculty at all ranks also work collaboratively to fulfill the Center’s research mission to advance the knowledge and understanding of African Diaspora people, cultures, communities, and nations on behalf of African-descended people as well as for the distribution and application of this knowledge within and outside of the academy. To that end, the Center convenes a biennial Symposium of African American Culture and Philosophy, a three-day gathering of national and international scholars addressing topics of debate or new directions within our field. Past symposia themes include the Black Caribbean, feminism and womanism, Afro-Latin America, hip-hop, and Black digital humanities. Our upcoming symposium will consider “50 Years of Black Studies: Intellectual Histories and Institutional Demands,” allowing scholars to reflect on the anniversary of the first Black Studies department in the United States.

The Center also works with the Purdue Black Cultural Center Library, which is home to the BCC Digital and Historical Archives Project, cataloging materials relevant to Purdue’s African American history. The BCC Library also houses the archive for the Philosophy Born of Struggle Conference, an annual international conference relating to the African American philosophy movement founded by our Center faculty, Dr. Leonard Harris, professor of Philosophy.

Purdue University Libraries (PUL), recipient of the 2015 Award for Excellence in University Libraries from the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), is at the forefront of academic librarianship and redefining the role of the academic, research library in learning, discovery, and engagement activities of the University. Libraries faculty and staff are deeply involved in information literacy instruction and instructional design, redefining of learning spaces, scholarly communication, data management, and global outreach. Purdue Libraries faculty have expanded their collaborative endeavors with disciplinary faculty in integrating information literacy into the core curriculum. Purdue University Libraries is committed to advancing diversity in all areas of faculty effort, including scholarship, instruction, and engagement.

Purdue Libraries is a leader in the areas of data curation and library publishing services. Accomplishments in data curation include the development of the Data Curation Profiles Toolkit and the Purdue University Research Repository (PURR). PURR provides an online, collaborative working space and data-sharing platform to support the data management needs of Purdue researchers.

Purdue Libraries is an active member of state, regional, national, and international associations and consortia, including the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI), SPARC, the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), the Digital Library Federation (DLF), the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), and the Research Data Alliance (RDA).

Purdue Libraries is a founding member of both HathiTrust and DataCite. Purdue was one of four universities that collaborated with Ex Libris, Inc., on its Alma integrated library system, the next generation library management system. Collaboration and partnerships are hallmarks of Purdue Libraries both on and off campus, including partnership with ITaP (Information Technology at Purdue) and the Purdue Office of Research and Partnerships to provide assistance with funder data requirements.

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