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Data Project: Reading Transnationalism and Mapping “In the Country”

Last week, we discussed “thick mapping” in class using the Todd Presner readings from HyperCities: Thick Mapping in the Digital Humanities, segueing briefly into the topic of cultural production and power within transnational and postcolonial studies (Presner 52). I am interested in what the investigation of cultural layers in a novel can reveal about the narrative, or, in the case of my possible data set, In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar, a shared narrative among a collection of short stories, each dealing specifically with transnational Filipino characters, their unique circumstances, and the historical contexts surrounding these narratives.

In the Country contains stories of Filipinos in the Philippines, the U.S., and the Middle East, some characters traveling across the world and coming back. For many Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), the expectation when working abroad is that you will return home permanently upon the end of a work contract or retirement. But the reality is that many Filipinos become citizens of and start families in the countries that they migrate to, sending home remittances or money transfers and only returning to the Philippines when it is affordable. The creation of communities and identities within the vast Filipino diaspora is a historical narrative worth examining and has been a driving force behind my research.

For my data set project, I hope to begin by looking at two or more chapters from In the Country and comparing themes and structures using Python and/or MALLET. The transnational aspect of these short stories, which take place in locations that span the globe, adds another possible layer of spatial analysis that could be explored using a mapping tool such as Neatline. My current task is creating the data set – if I need to convert it, I could possibly use Calibre.