In 1492, Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot in the Americas, ushering in an era of European colonialism, exploration, and exploitation across the globe. The Americas were thought of as the “New World”, a uncharted continent rich with resources and land open for the taking. This thought would be echoed again in the 19th century with European colonization of Africa, famously called the “Scramble for Africa”, when European powers divided up the continent and claimed pieces for themselves. Africa and the Americas, of course, were neither uninhabited nor open for the taking, and when Europeans set across the globe to conquer and explore they found themselves confronted by tribes, cities, and vast empires of populations, including thousands of distinct ethnic groups. Today, we often look toward records from violent and dictatorial conquistadors and colonial leaders for insight as to how the native populations of Africa and Latin Americas were viewed in Europe. This poster, however, strives to answer a different question: How were native populations viewed by the many European explorers, scientists, and naturalists who set out to map and “discover” Africa and the Americas, but not to conquer or colonize? My analysis incorporates cosine similarity and dependency parsing to look at themes and descriptive words used by European explorers, including Charles Darwin, Alexander von Humboldt, and David Livingstone, among many others. Additionally, I also sought to uncover any differences in themes and descriptive words used by European explorers who travelled in Latin America versus European explorers who travelled in Africa.

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