Free Your Mind: Mind-mapping Software and Graduate School Exam Studying

Today I am grateful for (among many other things) a classmate who introduced me to FreeMind, a mind-mapping software program that is helping me add a bit of order to my sometimes chaotic orals reading. And I am grateful it is available for free. I have just started playing around with sorting my theory list by topic, but I plan to use the program to eventually lay out talking points and connections between texts.

(Click to enlarge)

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Mapping Native American History with Hopi Landscape Portal Software

Many thanks to @giantpandinha for tweeting the Hopi Landscape Portal, a new historical mapping project by Wes Bernardini of University of Redlands. Bernardini’s program, which uses ArcGIS Explorer software, allows users to explore 3D reconstructions of 32 Hopi villages. According to an Indian Country article,

Bernardini has been working with the Hopi for the last decade on mapping the ancestral villages. He uses conventional archaeological data as well as Hopi traditional knowledge to get a clearer picture of the past.

“Everything in my work started with, and continually goes back to, Hopi oral tradition,” he told ICTMN. “It was the clan migration traditions recounted to me by Hopi colleagues that first helped me to see that archaeological ideas about Hopi migrations were incomplete, and each visit to Hopi adds new pieces of information that help me to see the archaeological record in a new light.”


Google Books NGram Viewer: International Law and Human Rights

I’m intrigued by the Books NGram Viewer, a Google Labs tool that allows you to graph the prevalence of certain published words or phrases over time. The tool offers a potentially interesting starting point for investigating the historical relationship between two different, but intersecting, concepts.

For example, searching the phrases “international law” and “human rights” in English-language books, published in 1800-2008, generated this chart:

What interests me most are periods in which “human rights” is more prevalent than “international law,” as well as periods of sharp change in the prevalence of each term. This includes an earlier-than-I-expected bump for “human rights” in the 1830s, and a steep rise in the prevalence of “human rights” from around 1975 to 2000; during both periods, “international law” remained fairly flat, while “human rights” apparently gained in currency. (Pardon me while I google the 1830s. . . . Ah, the Indian Removal Act.)

Certain trends are easily explained (e.g., a peak for “international law” in the late 1910s, correlating with the formation of the League of Nations). But I wonder what to make of the pronounced drop-off in the term “human rights” after approximately 2001: any relation to September 11 and the ensuing Global War on Terror? Must investigate further.

So much for catching up on reading for classes today.