Published July 25, 2023 | Version v1
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Slavery and Race in the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1768-1860): A Text Mining Approach'


  • 1. University of Edingburgh, UK


In her research, Ash seeks to identify and analyse diachronic changes in the representation of discussions on slavery through the first eight editions of Encyclopaedia Britannica. Ash is using a combined approach of digital methods to interrogate this dataset, including frequency counts of keywords to guide close readings of Encyclopaedia Britannica entries, and the contexts that these keywords appear in to determine meaning and gain a wider view of these topics and the connections between them. The research also explores the links between articles relating to slavery through network analysis, to determine where explicit links are made between articles – and crucially, where these links are not made. In doing so, she will determine the representations of slavery throughout the early Encyclopaedia Britannica, conveyed through how these knowledge networks are constructed, and the extent of change in these networks across these editions. In mapping these connections, this research identifies important methodological questions as to how we begin to develop best practice approaches for recognizing and analysing the legacies within our information environment.


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