Digital Humanities Master’s Student Sets a Precedent

May 6, 2023

Maria Buitrago is the first master’s student to win the Sue Zalk Endowed Fund Award.

Maria Buitrago - Incoming Student 2022 Digital Humanities
Maria Buitrago (Photo credit: Alex Irklievski)

Maria Buitrago, a student in the M.A. Program in Digital Humanities, has been awarded the Sue Rosenberg Zalk Endowed Fund Award from the Graduate Center to support her capstone project, "Women Peasants, Treasure Hunters, And...? Envisioning Collective Futures in Boyacá, Colombia.” The fund supports students enrolled in the Women's Studies Certificate Program and is especially geared towards research projects related to globalism and transnationalism. According to Professor Matthew K. Gold, executive officer of the program in Digital Humanities, Buitrago is the first M.A. student to win the award. 

Buitrago's project documents and records the lived experiences of women in western Boyacá, Colombia, by creating a community archive that redresses the omissions in Colombia’s official record and challenges the hegemonic narrative regarding rural women and the emerald economy. The region is globally recognized as a leading emerald production center; however, mineral extraction has led to multiple waves of internal violence that disproportionately affect women. Yet, despite the challenging circumstances and patriarchal dominance, women in this territory have persevered and continue to thrive. Buitrago's project seeks to shed light on their struggles as victims of the extractive economy while also showcasing their role as powerful political actors. To achieve this, Buitrago plans to use an experimental research methodology that includes conducting counter-mapping workshops, fieldwork, and interviews.

In addition to her studies in the M.A. Program in Digital Humanities, Buitrago has also been involved in various initiatives that support migrants. She has volunteered for several organizations, including the Colombian collective nonprofit Las Troyanas, where she worked hand in hand with survivors of sexual violence to use creative writing as a form of support and healing. Furthermore, she has played a key role in organizing workshops, lectures, and diverse creative initiatives designed to raise awareness about gender violence and homelessness. Buitrago believes that the digital and analytical skills she gains at the Graduate Center will not only advance her research project but also greatly benefit the women whose lives are affected by her work.

Learn More About the M.A. PROGRAM in Digital Humanities