Mikal Eckstrom: Textual Analysis of American Indian and American Jewish data sets

My name is Mikal Eckstrom, a Ph.D. candidate at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This fall, I am teaching an undergraduate course, History of the US Present. This course historicizes modern problems, but one that also allows students to use digital recorders and online discussion boards to produce original research. My personal research, “Marginalized Tribes: Shared Experiences of Jews and Native Americans in the Trans-Missouri West, 1850-1935,” explores Jewish encounters with American Indians in the context of white settlement in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota. The project relies on settler colonial, whiteness, and computational analysis as its primary methodologies.

For this lightning round, I will share some of my initial findings from my American Indian and American Jewish data sets. I am using textual analysis (statistical package R+ and MALLET [Machine Learning for LanguagE ToolkiT]) and topic modeling to discern gendered pressures unique to the Jewish and American Indian experiences during the peak period of American Indian and non-native allotment in the west. Initial findings show how both groups remembered the same time differently. Finally, I will discuss the responsibilities of working with indigenous histories in the digital humanities and why close reading is still crucial to our craft.

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