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Elena McGrath - Latin American History

Supervising Faculty Member: 
Elena McGrath
Research Focus: 

My project is about race, gender, and identity in a Bolivian mining city during the 20th century. Bolivia had a revolution in 1952 that has not been well studied, and as I tell that history I want to understand what the revolution and its aftermath felt like for neighbors in a small mining city. What did it mean to take part in this revolution for a mine worker or a fruit vendor? To do this, I want to be able to map out where and when certain kinds of struggles and conflicts took place: over access to land, resources, or the proper behavior of husbands and wives. My research methodology explores how personal conflicts help us understand political processes and change.

Position Description: 

In this project I want the student to help me create a database of court cases, everything from bar fights and robberies to land and labor disputes, in order to better understand "everyday life" during periods of revolutionary upheaval as well as political change. This database will be useful for mapping out connections between individuals and families, the relationship between the city and the countryside, and looking for common themes in moments of social disruption. At the beginning, the student will be looking at image files of court cases and putting information (like names, places, occupational categories) from those cases into a spreadsheet linked to the image files. Then, in consultation with me, the student will research best practices for organizing and analyzing this information. The student will receive basic GIS training if interested.

Required Skills: 

Basic familiarity with Excel
Intermediate Spanish language ability:You do not need to be fluent, you just need to have some background and an interest in improving your reading knowledge. If you have questions or concerns about your ability, please get in touch!

What will you learn: 

I would like students to understand better the process of finding information in archives and organizing archival research.
I would like students to be able to develop information literacy and data coding skills that interest them (metadata, GIS, etc) and that can be used for humanities and social science research.
I would like students to get a better understanding of how to create compelling narratives and resuscitate dry facts about real people into rich and vibrant stories.
I would like the student to set their learning goals in consultation with me.

Latin American History