CFP archaeological and historical networks session at EUSN Mainz

eusn

The European social networks conference will host its third edition in Mainz. Historical and archaeological networks have been represented every time, and it’s a good venue to get technical feedback on your work. This year a session on historical and archaeological networks will be chaired by Aline Deicke, Martin Stark, and Marten Düring. I can definitely recommend presenting your work there.

Deadline CFP: 31 March 2017

CfP: EUSN 2017 in Mainz with session on historical and archaeological networks, deadline: March 31st
Organized session at the 3rd European Conference on Social Networks at Johannes
Gutenberg-University Mainz, 26.-29. September 2017
Call for Presentations
“Networks in Archaeology and History”
Over the last decades, network analysis has made its way from a fringe
theory to an established methodology in archaeological and historical
research that goes beyond a purely metaphorical use of the network term. A
substantial number of studies on different topics and periods have shown
that network theories and methods derived from other disciplines (e.g.
sociology, economics, physics) can be fruitfully applied to selected bodies
of historical and archaeological sources. Yet in many of these initial
studies, important methodological concerns regarding the underlying sources,
missing data, data standardization and representation of networks in space
and time have not been adequately acknowledged and sometimes even completely
neglected.
In recent years, archeologists and historians – often in collaboration and
in exchange with scholars from other disciplines – have taken on the
challenge to address these methodological concerns and to adapt and refine
network methods and network theory for archaeological and historical
research. The aim of this session is to further develop such
transdisciplinary collaboration between historians, archaeologists and the
EUSN research community.
The session invites contributions from researchers applying methods of
formal network analysis in archaeological or historical research. A special
emphasis of the session will be on the unique challenges that arise in the
domain- specific application of these research methods. We welcome
submissions on any period, geographical area or topic. The authors may be
historians or archaeologists as well as scholars from other disciplines
working with historical or archeological data.
Abstract submission:
Please hand in your abstract via the conference website (http://
www.eusn2017.uni-mainz.de/) and indicate the name of the session: “Networks
in Archaeology and History”.
Abstract submission deadline is March 31st.
Session organizers:
Aline Deicke (Academy of Sciences and Literature | Mainz)
Martin Stark (ILS Research Institute, Aachen)
Marten Düring (University of Luxembourg)

CFP 4th Historical Network Research Conference

turkuDelighted this amazing series of conferences will have its fourth edition already. It’s a cornerstone of those of us archaeologists and historians mad about networks. The call for papers is out now and I strongly recommend presenting and attending the event. It is an inspiring conference series with a friendly and constructive atmosphere.

Where? Turku, Finland

Deadline CFP: March 31 2017

We are very happy to announce the 4th international HNR conference, this year in Turku, Finland together with the annual conference of Finnish historians.

We are particularly grateful to Kimmo Elo for the conceptualisation and organisation of the conference.

 

CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS

4th Historical Network Research Conference

University of Turku, Finland

17-18 October 2017 (pre-conference workshops)
19-20 October 2017 (conference)

The Historical Network Research group is pleased to announce its 4th annual conference. Following conferences in Hamburg in 2013, Ghent in 2014, and in Lisbon in 2015, the 4th conference will be held at the University of Turku in Turku, Finland, on 17-20 October 2017 (see http://historicalnetworkresearch.org/hnr-conferences/).

The 4th Historical Network Research Conference seeks to further strengthen and foster the awareness of historians for the possibilities of network research and create possibilities for cross- and multidisciplinary approaches to the networked past by bringing together historians, social scientists and computer scientists.

The organisers welcome proposals for individual contributions discussing any historical period and geographical area. Topics might include, but are not limited to: historical social netwoks, policy networks, kinship and community, geospatial networks, cultural and intellectual networks, and methodological innovations.

The deadline for submissions of proposals is March 31, 2017.

For more information, please visit www.utu.fi/hnr2017

Historical networks session at Sunbelt

Sunbelt is the anual social network analysis conference, and for a few years now it’s been host to history and archaeology sessions. Do consider contributing to this year’s session, I was told by the organisers that archaeology talks are very welcome.

What? History session at Sunbelt

Where? Beijing

When? 30 May – 4 June 2017

Deadline 10 January

Session on “Historical Network Research” at Sunbelt 2017 in Beijing, 30 May – 4 June 2017

The XXXVII Sunbelt conference of the International Network for Social Network Analysis, held in Beijing from 30 May to 4 June 2017 (http://insna.org/sunbelt2017/), will host a panel dedicated to Historical Network Research. All scholars interested in presenting a paper or poster within this session are cordially invited to submit an abstract by 10 January 2017 8 p.m. EST = 11 January 2017 1 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time through the conference website. Guidelines for the abstract, travel & accommodation information, FAQ, and the submission form are available at http://insna.org/sunbelt2017/ and the abstract submission is now open. The conference does not require submitting the text of the paper at any stage, only the abstract is needed. The abstract should be 200-500 words long (the limit of the relevant field in the form is about 1,400 characters), and should not contain bibliographic references. When submitting your abstract, please select “Historical Network Research” as the session title in the relevant drop-down menu.

 

Historical Network Research: Session Abstract

The methods of Social Network Analysis (SNA) have recently started to find their place in the historians’ toolkit, thus giving birth to the burgeoning discipline of Historical Network Research (HNR). After a successful series of smaller workshops devoted to HNR, an international conference explicitly focused on HNR was held in Hamburg (2013), followed by conferences in Ghent (2014), Lisbon (2015), and Turku (upcoming 2017). In addition, sessions devoted to the application of SNA to historical research have been organized at Sunbelt since 2013, and at EUSN since 2014. In 2016, the institutionalisation of HNR was marked by the creation of a new academic journal, the Journal of Historical Network Research (http://historicalnetworkresearch.org/journal/), whose first issue will be published in the summer of 2017.

The aim of this session is to contribute to this emerging field by bringing together historians and other scholars applying SNA to their respective research areas, and by enhancing international and interdisciplinary exchange. We invite papers that explore the application of the formal methods of SNA to historical research and/or delve into the added value of this approach. Topics may include, but are not limited to, network analyses of historical data (from any period) on social, political, and religious groups, movements, cliques, and organizations; communication; economic and intellectual exchange; kinship; social and political upheavals, conflicts, wars, and peace-making; the diffusion of representations, practices, and artefacts through social networks; the reconstruction of past social networks through material culture; etc.

 

Session organizer:

David Zbíral, Masaryk University, david.zbiral@mail.muni.cz

 

Session chairs:

Delfi I. Nieto-Isabel, University of Barcelona, delfinieto@ub.edu

David Zbíral, Masaryk University, david.zbiral@mail.muni.cz

CFP 10th Historical Network Research workshop

Via the Historical Network Research mailing list. The main language of the meeting is in German but English presentations are welcome.

Alpen-Adria-Universität Klagenfurt / Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Institut für Geschichtswissenschaften, Lehrstuhl für Geschichte der Frühen Neuzeit:

Florian Kerschbaumer / Dr. Tobias Winnerling

28.04.2016-30.04.2016, Düsseldorf, Haus der Universität

Deadline: 25.11.2015

Call for Papers

Fakten verknüpfen, Erkenntnisse schaffen? Historische Netzwerkforschung in Wissens- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte

Wissenschaft lebt von der Vernetzung. Das Klischee des einsamen Denkers, der isoliert von der Umwelt in seiner Experimentierstube arbeitet, trifft in den seltensten Fällen zu. Wissenschaftliche Erkenntnis entstand in der Regel im Austausch zwischen Wissenschaftlern, im Dialog oder im Streit. Auch der Aspekt der Konkurrenz unter Wissenschaftlern um eine Erkenntnis spielt in diesem Kontext eine Rolle. Kurzum, Wissenschaftler arbeiten in Netzwerken.

Zur Analyse dieser Netzwerke liegt es nahe, sich auf die in den vergangenen Jahren zunehmend populär gewordene Methode der historischen Netzwerkforschung zu beziehen. Lässt sich das Phänomen der Wissenschaft netzwerkanalytisch fassen oder eingrenzen? Wie kann die Komplexität historischer Interaktionen und Akteure im wissenschaftlichen Feld angemessen einbezogen werden? Wie können Konzepte visualisiert und analysiert werden, die sich über die Ebene reiner Personenbeziehungen hinauswagen und als 2-mode, 3-mode … n-mode-Netzwerke angelegt sind? Gerade in der Wissenschaftsgeschichte genügen einfach Person-zu-Person-Netzwerke nicht; es müssen Fragen des Verhältnisses dynamischer (Personen, Institutionen) und statischer Entitäten (Orte, Objekte), individueller (Personen) und kollektiver Akteure (Institutionen, Verbände, Parteien, Gruppen), von Akteuren und Ereignissen (Kongresse, Feste, Begräbnisse), von Produzenten, Produkten und Produktionsstätten (etwa Autor – Verlag – Buch – Ort) und der Wechselwirkungen zwischen all diesen geklärt werden. All diese Möglichkeiten der Konstruktion sinnstiftender Zusammenhänge treffen in der Wissenschaftsgeschichte aufeinander – vielleicht noch mehr.

Daraus ergibt sich die Frage nach den Strukturen, Prozessen und Inhalten der Netzwerke und ihrem Wandel:

Strukturen: Gibt es spezifische Unterschiede zu anderen (nicht-wissenschaftlichen) Netzwerken? Wer waren die Träger der wissenschaftlichen Netzwerke? Welche Rolle spielten Einzelpersönlichkeiten, welche Rolle spielten Institutionen (Vereine, Universitäten, Wissenschaftsorganisationen)?

Prozesse: Wie entstehen wissenschaftliche Netzwerke, wie werden sie erhalten und warum verschwinden sie irgendwann?

Inhalte: Wie hängen wissenschaftliche Erkenntnis und Netzwerke zusammen? Gibt es Unterschiede zwischen den Disziplinen der Wissenschaft?

Der Workshop ist die 10. Veranstaltung der Reihe „Historische Netzwerkforschung“, die bereits seit 2009 ForscherInnen aus allen Bereichen eine Plattform zum Austausch über neue Projekte, Entwicklungen und Techniken im Kontext der Historischen Netzwerkforschung bietet.

Eingesandt werden können daher – ganz im Sinne der Tradition der Veranstaltungsreihe – Vorschläge für Vorträge, die sich in theoretischer und/oder praktischer Hinsicht mit den oben skizzierten Problemen befassen, aber auch zu Projekten der Historischen Netzwerkforschung, die über den hier genannten Themenschwerpunkt hinausgehen. Alle wissenschaftlichen Disziplinen und theoretischen Zugänge sind dabei gleichermaßen willkommen, kreative Herangehensweisen ausdrücklich erwünscht.

Vorschläge für mögliche Präsentationen bitten wir bis zum 25. November 2015 mittels Abstract (ca. 300 Wörter) an winnerling@phil.uni-duesseldorf.de zu senden. Wir bemühen uns um eine Finanzierung der Reise- und Übernachtungskosten, können dies jedoch zum jetzigen Zeitpunkt noch nicht garantieren.

Neben den Vorträgen wird es auch einen Einführungsworkshop in die Historische Netzwerkforschung sowie einen Workshop für Fortgeschrittene geben. Genauere Informationen hierzu werden noch zeitnah angekündigt. Für die Workshops freuen wir uns auf alle Interessierten und laden herzlich zur aktiven Teilnahme ein! Aus organisatorischen Gründen bitten wir auch hier um Voranmeldung unter  winnerling@phil.uni-duesseldorf.de.

Book: support networks for persecuted Jews in WWII

9783110368949I find support and assistance networks extremely interesting! Mainly because they pose so many interesting missing data problems, and as an archaeologist I like a good data problem from time to time. These kinds of networks are very much based on trust, since once a person or connection is compromised it will have disastrous, often murderous, consequences for many in the network. This topic is explored for the case of persecuted Jews in National Socialism during World War II in Marten Düring’s work. He traced a number of different groups of people, how they got in touch with each other, and how they provided assistance to persecuted Jews. Marten told me in most cases the support networks grow slowly and are built on strong trusted relationships. Often new individuals will be introduced to the network through a common contact who has received assistance before and vouches for the individual. However, there are a few cases when individuals gambled and got in touch without a pre-existing well-trusted connection. Such decisions could be disastrous, sometimes leading to the entire network being rounded up by the Gestapo, questioned and sentenced (which is often why these support networks are documented and why Marten was able to reconstruct them). The ‘data problems’ I mentioned are a consequence of the sheer secretive nature of the support network: hiding the fact you offered support to persecuted Jews was a question of life or death. It is particularly hard to reconstruct support networks that were not caught by the Gestapo, and one can only assume that those that were caught are not entirely documented, that there are a lot of missing nodes and links. Marten Düring offers us an in-depth look at a few cases which are particularly well-known, thanks to his rummaging around in archives for years.

I believe this study will prove invaluable for better understanding support networks and the missing data problems they pose. I see particular similarities with networks of the trade in licit antiquities, organized crime and really any type of so-called ‘dark network’. This work offers a reminder of how the study of the past can help us tackle challenges in the present.

Marten’s work was recently published by De Gruyter as a book, check it out here and find the abstract below.

Also keep an eye out for Marten’s chapter in the forthcoming ‘The Connected Past’ edited volume to be published by Oxford University Press early in 2016 🙂

Why did people help Jews hide from the Nazis? This study examines interactions between helpers and aid recipients using the methods of social network research. Based on six Berlin case studies, the author looks at the social determinants for willingness to help, trust formation, network effects, and the daily practice of providing help from the perspectives of helpers and aid recipients.

Historical Network Research vol. 3 in Lisbon

hnr2It’s been three years since the first edition of the international Historical Network Research conference, in Hamburg. The success of the first edition sparked an awesome second edition in Ghent, set in an amazing restored abbey complex. Now it’s time for episode III in Lisbon. The call for papers is open, please note the submission deadline of 30 June, details below. The Historical Network Research community is going strong and growing, along these conferences they promised to keep on organizing the smaller workshops they’ve been hosting in Germany for years now, so keep an eye out for that. I can definitely recommend attending the conference, I found the Ghent edition I attended a great experience.

CFP deadline: June 30 2015

Website

Call for papers

The Historical Network Research is pleased to announce its 3rd Annual conference. Having been held in Hamburg in 2013 and Ghent in 2014, this year it will be held in Lisbon, on 15-18 September 2015.
This will be an opportunity to present historical research embedded in the field of social network analysis, as well as a chance to benefit from workshops designed to acquire analytic and visual tools.
Naturally, the Conference will be open not only to arts and humanities researchers, but also to social, formal, applied and natural scientists, who are interested in historical research and processes.
 
We welcome proposals for individual papers discussing any historical period and geographical area. Some of the topics include but are not limited to: Economic and business history; Scientific networks and collaborations; Technological and research networks; Social movements and political mobilization; Social network theory and historical research; Policy networks; Social network analysis, war and conflict; Kinship and community; Social networks and health; The geographical scope of networks; Cultural and intellectual networks; Methodological explorations

Submissions

Papers for presentation will be selected, after peer review, on the basis of abstracts (up to 500 words). To apply please also include the title, 3 keywords, institutional affiliation, contact details and a brief CV or bio.
Each presentation will last no more than 15 minutes. The default language is English.

HNR workshop Bochum

bochumLast month’s Historical Network Research conference in Ghent was awesome! Can’t get enough of that networky goodness? Then you might be interested in the next event in the HNR series: “Vom Schürfen und Knüpfen – Text Mining und Netzwerkanalyse für Historiker_innen”, 10-12 April 2015 in Bochum. More info below.

HNR Workshop 2015

Vom Schürfen und Knüpfen – Text Mining und Netzwerkanalyse für Historiker_innen 10.–12. April 2015
Als 9. Veranstaltung in der Reihe „Historische Netzwerkforschung“ findet im April 2015 ein Workshop zu semantisch-sozialen Netzwerken an der Ruhr-Universität Bochum statt. Die Workshop-Reihe bietet historisch orientierten Forscher_innen aller Fachbereich erste Einblicke in die Methodik und eine Plattform zum Austausch über die neuesten Techniken der Netzwerkanalyse. Unter dieser Zielsetzung wird sich der Bochumer Workshop mit der Methode des Text Mining beschäftigen, die eine zunehmende Automatisierung der Erstellung von Netzwerken aus historischem Material ermöglicht. Darüber hinaus spielt die Frage nach den Dimensionen von Texten, die durch diese Methoden repräsentiert werden können, eine Rolle. Hierbei bieten semantisch-soziale Netzwerke die Möglichkeit, sich zum einen mit Begriffszusammenhängen und Konzeptualisierungen, zum anderen mit Beziehungen zwischen Entitäten auseinanderzusetzen.

Der Workshop soll auch Teilnehmer_innen ohne Vorkenntnisse zeigen, wie Relationen von Worten und/oder Entitäten aus einem Text mithilfe von computergestützten Verfahren erzeugt und graphisch abgebildet werden können, ohne dass sie zunächst manuell (beispielsweise in einer Tabelle) erfasst werden müssen.

Am Freitagvormittag besteht die Möglichkeit, vor der offiziellen Eröffnung des Workshops, an einer Einführung in die Programmiersprachen Python und/oder R teilzunehmen. Während des Workshops gibt es eine mehrstündige Session zum Visualisierungsprogramm Gephi.

Darüber hinaus sollen die Teilnehmer_innen erste Einblicke in die folgenden Bereiche bekommen:

Eigenschaften, die ein Text besitzen sollte, um ein Netzwerk erstellen zu können
Möglichkeiten, die es zur Verbesserung der Qualität von Netzwerken gibt
Tools und Computerprogramme, die bei der Erstellung von Netzwerken helfen können
Fragestellungen, die durch die semantisch-soziale Netzwerkanalyse beantwortet werden können
Auf diese Weise soll gezeigt werden, wie man einen Text zunächst „schürft“, um schließlich ein Netzwerk zu „knüpfen“.

Zum Call for Presentations/Participation

It’s that conference season again!

This month is just raining interesting conferences again! If you’re into the kind of research I like that is: social simulation, The Connected Past, and Historical Networks Research … Ooooooh Yeeeeaaah! 🙂

Two weeks ago I was in Barcelona for the Social Simulation Conference and the Simulating the Past satellite conference. Reports of this event on my blog did not get beyond part 1. That’s just because Barcelona is so much fun and it would be a shame to sit in a hotel room writing blog posts any longer than I already did. The conference was great overall. There was a surprising number of talks presenting a project outline rather than results. Although conferences are good places to recruit people on such projects, these talks are not always as engaging as others.

Ulrik Brandes giving a keynote presentation at TCP London
Ulrik Brandes giving a keynote presentation at TCP London

Last week I co-organised The Connected Past with Tim Evans and Ray Rivers at Imperial College London, and the rest of the Connected Past team. It strikes me as a wonderful thing how every time we organise an event we attract a truly multi-disciplinary, young, and curious audience. Interestingly there is also always a slight majority of female scholars at The Connected Past events, which is very welcome given that in academia often the opposite is true. Our audience is always a particularly studious bunch. Humanities scholars looking to learn more about what that network thing is all about, and scholars from the hard sciences who want to know if they can jump on a research topic/problem/dataset that is slightly more sexy than gravity. The keynote talks by Alan Wilson, Ulrik Brandes and Joaquim Fort were brilliant! Each drew from their personal experiences of applying a different computation modelling approach to archaeological research: agent-based modelling, network modelling, and statistical modelling. In particular, I can recommend Brandes’co-authored paper entitled ‘what is network science?’, which is definitely required reading for anyone following this blog. I am sure this is not gonna be the last Connected Past event. In fact, I’ll be able to announce some cool TCP news very soon I hope.

This week it’s time for Historical Networks Research, an initiative that already received loads of blogspace here. No need to break the trend: expect reports from the keynotes and talks as the conference progresses over the coming days. I am particularly looking forward to the keynote by Claire Lemercier, who organised a fantastic TCP in Paris in April. Claire is a real pioneer in applying network science in history, and her review article on the subject is a must-read for any historians interested in networks. Stay tuned for more on Historical Networks Research soon!

Archaeological and historical network analysts unite!

315px-I_Need_You_on_the_Job_Every_Day_-_NARA_-_534704Network science is becoming more commonly applied in both archaeology and history. But this is not happening without difficulties. Pioneers in both disciplines are now trying to overcome the numerous challenges that still surround their use of network techniques: how to deal with fragmentary data, performing analyses over extremely long time spans, using material data in network science to understand past human behaviour, …. I believe archaeologists and historians should face these challenges together! Through collaboration we might come to a better understanding of the use of network science in our disciplines much faster. In a recently published article in Nouvelles de l’Archéologie, Anna Collar, Fiona Coward, Claire Lemercier and myself show how many of the challenges that archaeologists and historians have identified are actually not discipline-specific: we CAN collaborate to tackle them together. Since this article is in French I wanted to provide an English summary of our argumentation here (written with my co-authors). The full article can be downloaded on Academia or through my bibliography page.

History

One of the key aspects of historical sources, compared to archaeological sources, is that the former often allow for the identification of past individuals, by name, and by role. This richness of data at the individual level means that network analytical methods can be very powerful in the illumination of past social networks and the details of particular places and times – offering, where the data are good enough, a window onto past social lives and interactions, and allowing the synchronic analysis of social networks at a particular moment in time.

However, the issues most commonly mentioned by historical network analysts also concern problematic and incomplete data. These issues are undeniably more significant for archaeology and history than for contemporary social sciences such as sociology. But we should not overestimate their potential impact. Even sociological research in contemporary populations face similar issues where full data may not be available for a variety of reasons, and although the problems are clearly more fundamental in history and archaeology, this also means that researchers in both disciplines have long been accustomed to dealing with, and developing methods at least partially compensating for, partial and biased datasets. As a result, this may be one important area where archaeology and history can contribute its expertise to other disciplines working with imperfect network data.

Archaeology

In contrast to history, archaeology is much less frequently furnished with such focused evidence. In archaeology, individuals are typically identified indirectly through the material remains they leave behind, and even where they can be identified, they often remain without names or specified roles.  Not only is archaeological data typically not ‘individualized’, but it can also rarely be attributed an exact date. Most archaeological data typically has date ranges with differing probabilities attached to them, making the establishment of contemporaneity between entities/potential nodes in networks (e.g. individuals; events; settlements) highly problematic. Because of this, archaeologists have tended to focus on the synchronic study of human behavioural change over the long-term, rather than on the diachronic examination of behaviour and interaction. A further characteristic of archaeological data is that it is also likely to be more strongly geographically grounded. Indeed, the geographical location of archaeological data is often among the few pieces of information archaeologists possess. Finally, network analytical methods in archaeology tend to focus most closely on long-term changes in the everyday lives of past peoples.

Common challenges in archaeology and history

Alongside these differences, there are also a number of common challenges facing archaeology and history, as ultimately both disciplines aim to achieve similar goals relating to understanding past interactions and processes.

The most significant of these common challenges are the fragmentary datasets that often characterize both disciplines; we typically deal with bad samples drawn from populations of unknown size and/or with unknown boundaries, snapshots of the past that are heavily biased by differential preservation and/or observation effects. However we argue that this does not exclude the use network techniques in our disciplines, nor does it limit us to only those research contexts for which high quality datasets are available.

A second issue facing our disciplines is that many methodological and theoretical network approaches have been developed in other disciplines to address particular research themes. As a result, they therefore function according to certain rules and/or have certain specific data requirements that might prevent straightforward applications in our disciplines.

Furthermore,  using a network approach to study a past phenomenon necessarily requires a researcher to make a series of decisions about how the parameters of that phenomenon should be represented – for example, what entities to use as nodes and what forms of relationship to model as vertices. Archaeologists and historians familiar with the analytical and visualization techniques used by researchers studying modern phenomena may find many analytical approaches and visualization techniques that are not appropriate or achievable. The past phenomena we are interested in, the kinds of questions our data allows us to ask, and the often very specific parameters of human behaviour assumed by archaeologists and historians for investigating the past, are likely to mean we will ultimately need to develop purpose-made visualization and analysis techniques. At the least we will need to acquire a critical understanding of the various methods available if we are to represent archaeological and historical network  data in appropriate ways – and indeed, to ‘read’ such visualizations and analysis results correctly.

Finally, the poor chronological control characteristic to a certain extent of historical and to a much greater extent of archaeological datasets, limits our knowledge regarding the order in which nodes and links in networks became salient and also the degree of contemporaneity between nodes. This is likely to have significant ramifications for the ways in which archaeologists and historians visualize and analyse networks, driving a need to consider ‘fuzzy’ networks, margins of error and probabilistic models, as well as the consideration of complex processes of network change and evolution over time.

Unite! Meeting the challenges together

In the recent surge of network applications in archaeology and history, it would seem that the two disciplines have thus far focused their efforts on the more obvious potential applications which mirror those most common in other disciplines, such as the identification and interpretation of ‘small-world’ network structure or the choice of datasets that are readily envisaged as or translated into network data (e.g. road and river networks). Such analyses have demonstrated the potential of the methods for archaeological and historical datasets; however, we believe that potential applications go far beyond this, and that network approaches hold a wealth of untapped potential for the study of the past. To achieve this potential, we will need to become more critical and more creative in our applications, and explore not simply what network science can offer the study of the past, but also what our disciplines offer in terms of developing that science – firstly to tackle specifically archaeological and historical questions, but ultimately to broaden the scope of the science itself as methodologies specifically developed for use in archaeological and historical contexts are taken up for use in tackling similar questions in other disciplines.

TCP (2013_05_12 19_17_14 UTC)Initiatives like The Connected Past and Historical Network Research offer a platform that would allow for exactly this kind of interaction between network scientists and those applying network science to the study of the past. The challenges individual members were encountering in our own research across archaeology and history encouraged us to consider developing a mutually supportive space in which to share concerns and problems, and to discuss ideas and approaches for moving beyond these.

We suggest that simply bringing people together through conferences, workshops, conference sessions and more informal groupings is key to fostering the dialogue between the disciplines that is so important to move forward applications of network analysis to the study of the past. Talking to each other across traditional disciplinary boundaries is vital in the ongoing development of network perspectives on the past. However, as noted above, at the same time we also need to be more sensitive to the specific demands of our disciplinary goals and our datasets and develop new network methods that suit our disciplines better. The sociological roots of most social network analysis software packages means that these are often designed and engineered to address discipline-specific research concepts that may not be appropriate for archaeology and history. SNA software has generally been created to deal with interactions between people in a modern setting – where the individual answers to questions about interactions can be documented with a degree of accuracy. As such, this software and network methodologies in general will need to be applied with care and ideally even developed from scratch for use with networks comprised of nodes which are words, texts, places or artefacts, for the characteristically fragmentary and poorly chronologically controlled datasets of archaeology and history, and for research that aims to go beyond the structuring of individual networks of contemporary nodes to investigate questions of network evolution and change. While interdisciplinary dialogue is crucial, we will need to be sensitive to the discipline-specific idiosyncracies of our data and to critique rather than adopt wholesale practices used in other fields. In this way, rather than apologizing for the ‘deficiencies’ of our datasets in comparison with those characteristic of other disciplines, we will also be able to make novel contributions to the wider field based on the new questions and challenges the study of the past offers network science.

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