Adrea Lawrence - Education

Adrea lawrenceI have always been interested in how people make sense of their current situations and how they think about the past and their relationship to it. I initially began my doctoral studies in straight-up policy because of my experience as a high school social studies teacher. About halfway through my studies, I began focusing more on education policy history because of the strange and curious things I was coming across casually in the archives. I couldn’t let them go. So, my dissertation study was a microhistory of a Bureau of Indian Affairs teacher in New Mexico at the turn of the twentieth century. This teacher had a wealth of correspondence that her supervisor kept and which I could read against other correspondence, newspaper articles, policy directives from Washington, DC, and the landscape of New Mexico. Though the school was part of this study, it was not the central focus. Rather, the school functioned as a type of portal through which one can glimpse learnings in other areas such as disease and health; land use, ownership, and management; citizenship; and other colonial institutions. To better understand the intimate nature of learning within a colonizing framework and set of institutions, I analyzed documents ethnographically and utilized Google Earth to visually translate contested land claims. This was my initial foray into digital scholarship.

Since the publication of my first book in 2011, I have been looking at multigenerational learning outside of school and colonization as an education process. So far, I have been studying four distinct cases which illuminate ideas and practices end up in conflict in the colonization process. Children’s magazines, health crises, eschatologies and contact prophesies, and cowboy-Indian archetypes are all part of this study. As a result of the opening of the Hathi Trust’s Research Center to scholars in the fall of 2014, I have started to conduct analyses of entire runs of children’s magazines published in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Topic modeling and deployable word counts have been directing my subsequent close reading.

About Adrea Lawrence

Adrea Lawrence, an Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, is an education historian with a focus on American Indian education history.