History teaches us as much about ourselves as the past. As a former history and mathematics teacher at a large inner-city high school, I have seen firsthand the transformative power of historical exploration. Teaching in both Kalamazoo public high schools profoundly shaped my teaching practice and philosophy. Experiencing history’s powerful impact on my students and the community inspired me to pursue my doctorate in the subject.
I completed my Ph.D. in History at Michigan State University. My dissertation explored the formation and development of settler colonialism in the American Midwest and French Algeria. This study examined the factors that motivated the development of settler colonies and settler colonial structures in the American Midwest and Algeria from the point of conquest through the first two decades of occupation. It reveals the processes by which these two settler colonies developed through an analysis of the relationships between and among the métropole, settlers, colonial administrators/military, and indigenous communities in order to deepen our understanding of why and how these types of colonies came into existence and how relationships among diverse populations and interests shaped the formation of settler governments.
My work also extends into the digital humanities where my interests include geospatial visualization of historical events, online learning communities, and using and creating digital tools to foster scholarly collaboration and conversation. As a Cultural Heritage Informatics fellow through MATRIX at Michigan State University, I launched the first stage of Settler Colonialism Uncovered, a project that will be under development over the next several years. Using Omeka with the Neatline plugin suite, I created exhibits that describe the evolution of settler colonies with interactive temporal map interfaces that link to additional maps, paintings, sketches, photographs, primary documents, and a narrative to contextualize the digital objects.In the future this site will include lesson plans for secondary and undergraduate courses. Still in the planning stages, this site will also serve as a repository for other scholars of settler colonialism as well as Indigenous communities to preserve their stories – oral and written – and images of material culture to create a truly multi-vocal site that tells the stories of colonization and its legacy from multiple perspectives. For more information, see my CHI page on this site.
My fields of inquiry include United States history, history of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, with a focus on gender, and the history of European women and gender. In addition, I have studied both French and Arabic for two years as a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) scholar, completed pre-dissertation and dissertation research in France, participated in and presented at Michigan State University’s African Studies seminar series, and participated in the Newberry Consortium in American Indian Studies (NCAIS) summer institute for graduate students (2011). I have presented at four graduate student conferences, organized and presented a panel entitled “Colonized and Colonizing Women in Africa and America: Cross-Cultural Negotiations,” at the Berkshire Conference of Women’s History, and organized a panel entitled “Imaginary Indians: Representations of Native American People in Comparative Imperial Perspective” for the American Studies Association Conference. In addition, I have published a phenomenological study on best practice in high school history classrooms.
I am now a faculty member at Claremont Graduate University in the School for Arts and Humanities, a Visiting Professor in Digital Humanities at Claremont McKenna College and the Director of the Digital Research Studio at The Claremont Colleges. The course website for the introductory digital humanities course for librarians is available here: dhatccl101.com/. Tutorials, workshop materials, and reflections on my work are available at AshleyRSanders.com.