On Tuesday, May 15, 2018 The UCSB brown-bag forum on spatial thinking presents

The Accidental Digital Humanist: The Bodies and Structures Project and the Challenge of Spatial Humanities

Kate McDonald

Department of History
University of California, Santa Barbara

12:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, 2018 | 3512 Phelps Hall (map)


Kate McDonaldKate McDonald is excited to share a digital spatial history project, Bodies and Structures: Deep-Mapping the Spaces of Japanese History, which she is currently developing with her colleague David Ambaras (History, NC State). Bodies and Structures is a platform for researching and teaching the spatial histories of Japan, its empire, and the larger worlds of which they were a part. It begins from the premise that space and place are fundamental to humanistic inquiry. It unfolds into a method of writing spatial histories that reveal the multiple topologies of historical experience rather than a chronology of spatial thought or territorial transformation.
The talk will introduce the site and the intellectual stakes of the project. In particular, she will focus on two themes: (a) how she started with a plan to write a new kind of spatial history and ended up knee-deep in the digital humanities; and (b) why, after two years into the project, she argues that the spatial humanities need a digital platform like Bodies and Structures.

There will be time to explore and discuss the site — please bring your laptop in addition to your lunch!

Bio: Kate McDonald is Assistant Professor of Modern Japanese History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is the author of Placing Empire: Travel and the Social Imagination in Imperial Japan (University of California Press, 2017) and co-director of the Bodies and Structures: Deep-Mapping the Spaces of Japanese History project.

The objectives of the ThinkSpatial brown-bag presentations are to exchange ideas about spatial perspectives in research and teaching, to broaden communication and cooperation across disciplines among faculty and graduate students, and to encourage the sharing of tools and concepts.

Please contact Werner Kuhn ( to review and schedule possible discussion topics or presentations that share your disciplinary interest in spatial thinking.

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ThinkSpatial: Kate McDonald