Department of History
Old Horticulture
506 E. Circle Dr
Room 256
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
Main: 517.355.7500
Fax: 517.353.5599
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Graduate Student

Ashley Sanders is a doctoral candidate in History at Michigan State University. Her dissertation is a comparative analysis of the establishment of settler colonies in the American Midwest (1778-1795) and French Algeria (1830-1848). Her work builds on that of Lorenzo Veracini and Patrick Wolfe, pioneers in the burgeoning field of Settler Colonial Studies. It deepens our understanding of how and why settler colonies formed when and where they did and reveals how colonized Indigenous communities shaped this process.

Sanders’ work also extends into the digital humanities where her interests include geospatial visualization of historical events, online learning communities, and using and creating digital tools to foster scholarly collaboration and conversation. As a Cultural Heritage Informatics fellow through MATRIX at Michigan State University, she launched the first stage of her project, Settler Colonialism Uncovered, which will be under development over the next year. Using Omeka with the Neatline plugin suite, she is creating exhibits that describe the evolution of settler colonies with interactive temporal map interfaces that link to additional maps, paintings, sketches, photographs, primary documents, and a narrative to contextualize the digital objects.In the future this site will include lesson plans for secondary and undergraduate courses. This site will also serve as a repository for other scholars of settler colonialism as well as Indigenous communities to preserve their stories – oral and written – and images of material culture to create a truly multi-vocal site that tells the stories of colonization and its legacy from multiple perspectives.

Most recently, Sanders has begun to create a model network on Drupal for H-Net that she plans to launch as live network for Settler Colonial Studies scholars. This network is meant to foster interdisciplinary engagement, to share resources, teaching ideas, and collaborate on conferences, projects, and further research.

She is also a full-time author for GradHacker, an Insider Higher Ed blog, and writes her own academic blog, Colonialism Through the Veil. Additionally, as a Cultural Heritage Informatics fellow, she has written on various digital humanities topics for the CHI blog. Her first publication, “A Study of the Teaching Methods of High School History Teachers,” appeared in The Social Studies, a peer reviewed journal, in 2008. A trained high school math and history teacher, she has taught both at the secondary and post-secondary levels, and has four years of experience in mathematics education research at Western Michigan University.

Ashley (Wiersma) Sanders

Position: Graduate Student

Field: American Indian Studies, 18th Century, 19th Century, Comparative, Digital Humanities, History Education, Women & Gender

Region: Middle East, United States