Digna Rabia: Working on producing digital journals in our courses

Cover image by Jesus Barraza (2020)

The following is taken from the Welcome remarks made by Dr. Pablo Gonzalez in reference to the inaugural edition of “Digna Rabia: a Digital Journal in Chicana/o/x Studies.” The digital journal is a compilation of projects from Dr. Gonzalez two upper division Fall 2020 courses, “Mexican and Central American Migration” and “Chicana/o Ethnography.” Both courses had major digital assignments that included augmented reality through the Artivive application. Students conducted oral histories and ethnographies in both classes and included images with embedded augmented reality effects. We will include in a future Medium post, how to create a journal for your courses or department.

Welcome! ¡Bienvenidos! To our inaugural digital journal in Chicana/o/x Studies at the University of California Berkeley. The journal, titled, Digna Rabia: A Digital Journal in Chicana/o/x Studies, represents the work of undergraduate students who conducted visual ethnographies, podcasts, oral histories, and research on topics ranging from being a student in a time of Covid-19, Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, to the oral histories of family and friends who have migrated. The research projects were completed during the Fall 2020 semester, as part of the “Chicana/o Ethnography” and “Mexican and Central American Migrations” courses.

We call the journal, Digna Rabia, because “dignified rage” brought us together to say “enough!” “Ya Basta!” to the continued militarization of our communities and the separation of our families, to not being able to grieve the deaths of those lost to Covid-19, and to the erasure of our family histories. The journal and its authors believe that borders separate, they kill, they erase. Our intention with this journal is to showcase our individual and collective rage through creative storytelling and recording.

As part of their creative process, the authors included in this journal underwent a semester of preparation before they completed their final projects. They wrote research proposals, composed interview questions, recorded interviews with someone who had a migration story, and either retold that story or transcribed their oral history. Authors were encouraged to translate the oral histories only if they felt it necessary. In many cases, the names of person(s) interviewed have been changed to protect their identity.

Our stories heal but they also keep our word alive. As the instructor of the courses, I spoke about the power of collecting and holding our stories. The authors kept this in mind as they asked parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends, questions about their lives. The oral histories and research papers in this journal dig deep into not only the migration stories of those interviewed but also their labor history, their first time crossing, discrimination faced, what the “American Dream” means to them, the gendered differences of crossing, and recollections of their own lives across time and space.

As an added way of re-telling the stories of those interviewed, authors included images. These images are digitized old photos and images that give the essays a unique element. Furthermore, the journal essay photos also use augmented reality to add depth to the written word. The use of augmented reality through an application called “artivive” (www.artivive.com) makes this a multi-media journal. In order to see the augmented reality experience, viewers can download “Artivive” on their tablets or smart phones and point their smart phone cameras at the images to see the augmented reality effect. (Note: the essays are meant to be read and experienced including the augmented reality photos.)

Similarly, others in the “Chicana/o Ethnography” course, produced a visual ethnographic project. While traditionally the course concludes with the writing of an ethnographic research paper, those who conducted visual ethnographies created a visual portfolio using Adobe Portfolio where their images and photos tell a story and describe their ethnographic topic using augmented reality. Throughout the semester, students met scholars and artists like Gilberto Rosas, July Grigsby, and Arlene Mejorado. These guests shared their creative process and described how they story-tell through ethnographic writing and photography.

This journal was no easy task. Meeting online and learning new technical skills was stressful. Because of this, as lead editor of this journal, I would like to thank the authors showcased in this journal for their perseverance and dedication. I am sure your families are proud of the results. I would also like to thank the Chicana/o Studies Program, the Department of Ethnic Studies, the Ethnic Studies Changemaker project, and especially, the Creative Discovery Grant and the UC Berkeley School of Arts and Design for their funding and support. I would also like to thank Jesus Barraza for the cover image that adorns the journal. Jesus Barraza and the Dignidad Rebelde collective captured the essence of the projects. Thank you. I would also like to thank my student co-editors, Cinthia Hernandez and Rodrigo Martinez, who helped with the initial formatting and placement of the essays and images. They did this with very little training in InDesign. Finally, I would like to thank, Cynthia Ledesma, who worked on the final template of the journal before my last edits. Cynthia is a brilliant ethnic studies scholar who offered tremendous advice and suggestions on the final draft.

We hope that this inaugural issue is the first of many to come. We hope this journal, this mirror, this bridge is a place of encounter. Above all else, we welcome questions you may have and invitations to share in your collective Digna Rabia.


Dr. Pablo Gonzalez

Lead Editor

Digna Rabia, A Digital Journal in Chicana/o/x Studies University of California Berkeley

Spring 2021