Author Archives: Maria F. Buitrago

DirectHERS – Week 13 Group Update

We are sprinting toward the final outcome. The research group aims to finish all XML files by following Monday with any DTD files associated with them. We are a bit delayed in making the XML files because some structure issues are pending solutions, which is essential to the search functionality. During the break, we finished the draft of our About page, and each member met with Gemma individually to discuss their personal page info. We decided to give up words like underrepresented, and marginalized and use groundbreaking. We wrote that the team explores the incredibly diverse, worldwide voices of women film directors and focuses light on their work in a digitally encoded collection.

“The fifteenth groundbreaking women directors we choose to work on, representing diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds, have made significant contributions to cinema by shedding light on unique non-mainstream perspectives and critical social issues. There is a worldwide need to lessen discrimination and respect non-mainstream experiences, identities, and knowledge to broaden our societal goal of achieving fundamental human rights.”

Some of us are also interesting in drawing connections and visualizing the similitudes between the films and the careers of these women. For example, what does the cinema produced by Lulu Wang, Chinese American director, have to do with the cinema of Iranian filmmaker Rakhshān Banietemad? Portraying those connections could be another way to investigate and answer: Why/how is our project’s methodology feminist? But also, Are the works of each director contributing to a feminist cinema?

With those questions in mind, we figured we could include a Tag Network in our website visualizing each director’s structure. The Tag Network can help the user see the elements we used to encode and draw connections between their profiles, their films, interests and works. We’ve come up with a few mockups on how it could look like, which are included below. If you have time, we would appreciate any feedback or ideas on their design!

Finally, starting next week, the research team will move on to write their lab notes on tags and XML encoding. Maria and Miaoling will figure out a video plan to visually show our work in less than 1 minute. Gemma will move the tag glossary to the website into three columns that have been designed in our mockup.

Tag Networks:

Network Tag - Draft A. Shows the tags used to encode one of the director profile.

Week 9: <!ELEMENT family (description) > or <!ELEMENT behindthescene (#PCDATA, citation)> (Miaoling’s creative DTD structure)

Follow our (for now) empty Twitter account: @DirectHERS

Clare Weiskopf (British-Colombian), Lulu Wang (Chinese-American) and Rea Tajiri (Japanese-American) have all done films exploring their family ties, their mothers or grandmothers and their views on personhood and motherhood. In Amazona (2016) director Weiskopf visits her mother, an 80-year old woman who lives in a village on the Amazon jungle. Weiskopf is pregnant and embarks on an intense journey to explore their family history and the decisions her mother took during her life. Wisdom Gone Wild (2022) portrays the relationship between Rea Tajiri’s mom and her, it reveals how the parenting roles evolve and merge as her mother deals with dementia. Rather than wanting her mother to remember the “truth” or “reality” the director portrays dementia as a sort of new wisdom, a new perspective on life, a vision gone wild. And The Farewell (2019) tells the story of a family that decides to hide from their grandmother the fact that she’s been diagnosed with cancer. To say goodbye, the family travels together and spends with their grandmother whatever remaining time she might have left. All of this films deal with the director’s personal lives so, how do you separate the two? their profiles are intertwined with their work and the work with who they’ve been. As of now, in our XML language this means:

<based_on>true life story</based_on>


We’ve started to tag things like this. But how to choose the correct words? and why is that important? We have sort of grouped them under <family> or <behind_the_scene> or <based_on>. I’m mesmerized with the connections. Why are they all three dealing with the same themes? is it inherently feminist? To portray the personal on a close-up camera angle. As much as it would be lovely to grapple longer with this questions and reflect, we don’t have the time and must make decisions. If time wouldn’t be a concern I would love to explore coming up with names for tagging <motherhood> or <grandmotherhood> or <daughterhood>. In Amazona there’s a moment in which the director ask her mother: “Did you ever feel that your needs came first than your children’s?” to which her mother replies, “I think so”, because “the most important thing about your life is your own life”. There are so many interesting debates dealing with this questions. What is motherhood anyways? are we romanticizing a historically care labor unequally and unjustly assigned only to those bodies deemed as reproductive and so tagged as “women”? Or is there something about the labor, affect, care and responsibility of being a mother that gives the tag “women” a distinctive and unique way of experiencing life? But <women>, as many feminist thinkers have told us, should not be seen as an essential category and rather as a political category. Today, we were discussing intensely our DTD structure, which is basically (as our PM brilliantly put it) our common agreement on what elements will be present in the XML file. The correct avenues of thought. And why is that important? Why are labels in life so important? Anyways, as of now all the intense questions arising from the work of this directors are headed sort of under <family>…but not sure, the possibilities could be endless it seems. No answers. Just questions. This post is an invitation to see the films because they are beautiful, that is, if you can find them and a bit outreach on the side, why don’t you  follow us on twitter! c:

María F – Bio & Contribution Statement

María Fernanda Buitrago is a M.A. student in Digital Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center completing a certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies. She holds a BA in Anthropology and Spanish Literature from Los Andes University, Bogotá, Colombia. Her undergraduate work had an emphasis on cultural analysis, creative writing, pedagogy, and ethnographic research. María has collaborated with diverse communities, including indigenous groups, urban vulnerable youth facing homelessness in Bogotá, migrant women in New York City and rural women victims of SGBV in Colombia. Professionally she has worked in cultural institutions in NYC in a variety of roles, most recently as a Public Programs and Events Coordinator. Among her current interests are collaborating with rural women from the Global South to understand their distinctive forms of authority, resistance and self-determination. She’s also interested in using DH methods and tools for anthropological inquiry, constructing community archives, folksonomies, dialoguing with Latin American ontologies and epistemologies, and researching Colombian indigenous, women and peasant writers.

María joins the Feminist Markup JWDP as an Outreach Coordinator. Her work focuses on sourcing technical and content support for the development of the tagsets, definitions and TEI/XML structure as well as finding opportunities to collaborate with any interested groups. She also contributes to the encoding of the XML files, like the rest of the members. Her interest in joining the project comes from her desire to learn more about the intersection between TEI/XML and feminist methodologies and frameworks for culturally diverse and non-english materials.

Personal Reflection – Week 3

I can’t believe we are already on week 3. Our Feminist Markup Project started with great momentum. Our project manager already sent us materials to get started on learning TEI/XML. Plus we also started to discuss the implications on using a tree hierarchical structure to classify the profiles of female directors that are embedded in complex networks of intertextuality and collaborations due to the nature of their creative job. It’s looking like a very exciting challenge. And I’m super appreciative of the clarity, great organizational skills and eloquence of our Project Manager and team members. We also distributed roles but will collaborate in doing the metadata coordination, which means we all going to get our hands dirty in those XML files, as our first milestone. That also made me reflect how the project is not just a Markup venture but also a digital pedagogy project. I appreciated when Miaoling pointed out that (from our readings) how this groups of tech developers from the start just recruit and assume that all their members know the necessary skillsets to create a tool or digital project. Although I do understand that our current academic world is very compartmentalized and segregated; and of course any discipline under this circumstances needs to develop a team of experts to go deep into their craft. At the same time I do think technological development needs to burst the bubble a little and include into their projects people with no skillset and train them. Simply, because what they do affect all of us and keeping the knowledge locked by just integrating those who already know about how something gets created is another mechanism to reproduce structural inequalities. Plus, the fact that only teams of experts define the terms and categories and the code that goes into creating a tool, is what seals and validates their episteme in the first place. On the other hand, I’m very interested about the agile culture and the scrum methodology. Would love to learn more. After listening to my classmates I realized that maybe is not that there’s no reflection while doing the creation process. But, rather, that the reflection  occurs in a different temporality than, say, when we write a paper. As our classmate explained, this reflection maybe occurs after a number of small cycles have passed. Would love to hear more about it and why they deem it valuable as a process of creating things in the world. Finally, I want to bring two things that I found so valuable form classmates. The first one, regarding the project plan we will deliver next week, I absolutely loved when someone said “I would be really grateful if I didn’t have to hide uncertainties”. So well put. So true. And also, something that was discussed for our own group process. If we are going to create a Feminist Markup Project we need to know that we are defining the scope of the project but not the scope of the lives of the female directors. Many of them are alive!! And that just made me think so many hurdles. Like, does a given tag, say, <<location>>, builds a prison box to define an artist that is still producing films. Does it literally <<mark>> that person in a given time and place with no change. I guess people review every so often  XML files to update them to a current situation. Because, what about if that given director does not want to associate anymore with the <<location>> tag we created. What if they don’t want to follow the nationalistic logic? what if a “country” does not express their belonging to a place? For example, if we were classifying female directors in Colombia, given our history, I would certainly know that there’s a huge difference between directors born in any city, as opposed to being born in the Pacific or Atlantic coast. There are important historical, cultural and social reasons to differentiate between national and regional location or even other kinds of locations, but for a dataset, do those differences create too much of a mess?. Plus one can also change their mind along life and not belong to any place or multiple places, what if we define location by our migrant stories. But this is all so very exciting because Miaoling remind us constantly that this is an experiment, we can define multiple tags and the lab notes will be super helpful to create an archeology of this kinds of decisions.

María F. Skillset


It was really nice to see all of you again and I’m enjoying reading about all of your projects. Below my skillsets. I have a BA in Anthropology and Spanish Literature and professional experience as a Public Programmer/Event Producer. I graduated with a thesis on ethno-education with Indigenous communities in Colombia (Guainía) and a literature project on creative writing (Spanish).  I’ve also worked with feminist collectives and non-profits and currently I’m pursuing a Certificate in Gender and Women’s studies.

Community Engagement/Outreach:
This is what I love the most to do. I love working with communities, specially with those that we would consider vulnerable communities  and I love creating/engaging in new methodological ways to do social research that not just “use” or see community members as “subjects” but rather as co-producers of the knowledge being created. In general, just like a lot to work with people. Thanks to my Anthropology degree I have done social research work using ethnography (of course), focal groups, semi-structured and structured interviews, network-actor analysis, etc. Thanks to my work with feminist collectives I’ve created and implemented many workshops with different actors using art, mainly literature. I’ve created fanzines, engage in theater impro, film discussions, roundtables, social cartographies, etc. In my previous professional role I also acted as a community liaison in very logistical approaches: finding people, asking them to collab in projects, transferring their concerns to other teams, scheduling interviews, following up, etc.  And, because I like to work with people I could also do social media research or outreach BUT this in particular is not my fav. Finally, I think any project needs to actively engage its audience and would love to work on that front: how to render academic digital work accesible to multiple audiences?

Project Management
As I mentioned I was an event producer in my previous professional role and can transfer many of the same skills to keep a project on track. I’ve overseen budgets, tight deadlines, follow up with all the people required to complete a task/project, created timelines and spreadsheets to keep up with everyone’s work, etc. I don’t really love to do this but I’ve come to understand how important logistics are for any successful project.

I think I’m an intermediate researcher, I did a fair amount digging through library catalogs, databases, online repositories and examining voluminous material, I’ve also have a basic knowledge on how to organize bibliographies in Zotero, but need to polish those skills and learn more about how to dig into archives, which I’m super interested in!

Advanced Beginner in Adobe Suite. Would love to shadow a designer or the person in charge of this role. I have basic understanding of HTML and CSS and CMS and could certainly work way more on developing this skills. I’m also super interested in maps, art (textiles & multimedia), curatorial work (I’ve worked in two museums, not in curatorial but definitely have engaged in their content production process), etc. I’ve also worked with Omeka before so would love to explore more on that area.

Many of us in this class are bi or even trilingual. I think it is an important skill to highlight, not just in terms of the languages we speak but also in the affinity we might have for seeing, understanding and appreciating cultural differences. Also because we live in an academic world dominated by English scholarly discourse. I learned very basic Arabic before, worked with multilingual indigenous communities and took classical greek in college, so although I’m not very savy in languages I really like to work with all the linguistic diversity that a project my encounter.

I have no knowledge, will love to gain some knowledge, im in the Python class… so it would be fun to learn from the person doing this job. Some years ago I use VS Code for TEI, XML encoding… but it’s lost in my memory.