Race and Science Word Cloud

Today I was able to complete a small visualization that I’ve been working on in conjunction with the Race and the History of Science project announced in my June 9 post. I went through a list of keywords on this topic and found the most relevant ones. I then created a word cloud, which you can see in full below.

The result is interesting to me in a couple of ways. First, it is an experiment that helps me think about ways in which I can provide users with a more user friendly data interface in Explore. To that end, I did not try to provide a precise statistical look into the data, simply a impressionistic view of some of the key Explore terms that will give users a sense of the scope of the database.

In making the word cloud, I handpicked the terms based on several searches and my own familiarity with the data. The font sizes are related to the number of citations linked to each term—the larger the font, the more citations. To prevent some of the terms from disappearing since the counts ranged from zero to nearly seven hundred, I set the font to one of seven moderately different sizes based on which hundred grouping they fell into.

For those who want to start using this as a resource to dig into the bibliography, I have a somewhat more expanded list (see below) that gives people a few more categories and a more precise view of the keywords with their full names , the number of citations (as of this weekend), and a hyperlink directly to Explore for each one. I’m hoping that readers will find this helpful for exploring on their own. Incidentally, I’ve included some categories on colonialism and traditional societies that are not found on the word cloud.

The second reason I like this word cloud and keyword list is that it emphasizes just how much (and in some places, how little) the topic of race in its various manifestations has been studied by historians of science in recent years. Those looking to understand something about our field can glean something by simply looking at these keyword pages.

The Race in History of Science project will expand on this already existing body of citations. We will enrich this collection with material from sources in new journals and publisher lists. And as we enter new citations, we will also inevitably bring in new keywords, thus building a better structure for understanding the many intersections between science, race, and people of color.

List of keywords in Explore related to race in history of science.

(The number in parentheses after each hyperlinked term shows the number of citations linked to that term. You’ll also note that there are a few duplicate keywords, which will have to eventually be merged. Attentive users will discover that there are occasional data errors that link the wrong keyword to a citation—if you see any of these errors please let us know. Finally, an asterisk before a heading indicates that these keywords were not included in the word cloud.)

Keywords related to race in general

Keywords related to black people

Keywords related to ethnicity

*Keywords related to traditional knowledge

*Keywords related to fields that study race

Keywords related to the social aspects of racism

Keywords related to Native Americans

Keywords related to indigenous Australians

*Keywords related to colonialism

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