Mountains Beyond Mountains: Data Analysis

Back on campus, the mountain of data analysis that has to be done continues to grow. Between the water resource interviews and social network analysis data, I’ve spent over 24 hours just trying to transcribe the remaining interviews and code the responses in a logical fashion. The codebook is in its early stages, but it is off to a good start. Now to teach myself SPSS and UciNet (SNA software), and a little bit of GIS…

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Data Collection in Chaguite: Part 2

 

The second key component of data collection to answer the research question:  How does the presence of natural resources in a community affect interpersonal relationships for those nearest or farthest from the resource? We managed to reach most of the houses in Chaguite, performing over 30 interviews about the community’s infrastructure and communication networks. Time spent at each household ranged from 11 to 30+ minutes, with some interviewees giving elaborate responses regarding ongoing projects, concerns, or personal experiences. Some respondents were easier to understand than others, and some had more trouble understanding my Spanish than others. There were a few who didn’t really want to “play ball,” aka they didn’t provide responses to the interview questions. I guess I had anticipated a little of that, but it still caught  me by surprise. On another note, by the end of the interviewing, I no longer had to look at the protocol and could recite the entire preamble from memory! That helped the flow of the interview seem more natural and less intimidating to the respondents.

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Data Collection in Chaguite: Part 1

My time in Chaguite was mostly spent conducting interviews at each household. As always, the paths between houses were long and seemed to be uphill in every direction. Along with the MANOS members that I traveled with, I also managed to pull off a meeting with Chaguite’s Water Committee, despite our lack of native Spanish speakers (this is the first trip where we have never had one present). The meeting was brief; we summarized MANOS’s research goals and processes for this trip, asked about any progress with the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) water access project, and left the floor open for any questions or concerns. Direct contact between EWB and community members appears limited, but the attitude towards the project is overwhelmingly positive.

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August Blog Post: Rare Books at the Library of Congress

Working in DC in August was exciting with the opening of the Metro’s new silver line. A station opened within walking distance of my home, significantly shortening my commute to the Library of Congress. This month, I read texts in the Rare Books and Special Collections reading room at the Library of Congress. The Special Collections are in a separate section of the library from the Main Reading Room, and researchers need specific permission to enter this area. The Special Collections hold the pre-1800 materials of the Library of Congress. I gained familiarity with handling rare books at Swem Library. The key to reading rare books without damaging them is to touch the pages as little as possible. The pages are often very fragile and brittle. Many of these books have broken spines and have to be transported very carefully. Multiple cameras in Special Collections monitor the handling of the books by the readers, and bringing any bags or even pens into the reading area is prohibited. Although the Library of Congress takes significant steps to protect these original texts, anyone can apply for permission to read them because it is considered the library of the people.

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July Blog Post: Travel and Intellectual Development

During the month of July, I read secondary sources discussing travel in Europe and America. One of the most interesting texts was English Travellers Abroad, 1604-1667, by John Stoye. Stoye researched travelers abroad, particularly in France, Italy, and the Netherlands, in order to explain the origins of the Grand Tour. Stoye identifies how politics at home influenced travelers and shaped their journeys. The search for patronage and courtly politics impacted distant locales like Venice, where Englishmen formed small communities that replicated the hierarchy and conflicts of the court. Stoye argues that not all Englishmen abroad were committed to improving their classical education, instead regarding travel as a social activity. Many returned from traveling unmoved by their Grand Tour. However, others would be significantly impacted by their life abroad, such as John Milton, whose literary discussions with Italian scholars likely encouraged him to write Paradise Lost. Stoye’s book influenced the direction of my research and led me to focus on how the British developed intellectually through travel.

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