E – Concepts and digital tools, fields and disciplines in global history

Spatial semantics and digital humanities

Event Details

  • Date

    Saturday, 27 June - 14:00 – 16:00

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    E – Concepts and digital tools, fields and disciplines in global history
Convenor
  • Ninja Steinbach-Hüther (Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography)
Chair
  • Ninja Steinbach-Hüther (Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography)
Commentator
  • Ninja Steinbach-Hüther (Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography)
Panelists
  • Elton Barker (The Open University)
  • Marco Büchler (University of Göttingen)
  • Øyvind Eide (University of Cologne)
  • Susan Grunewald (The University of Pittsburgh, World History Center)

Papers

  • Elton Barker
    Spatial semantics and digital annotation: mapping Pausanias's "Description of Greece"

    Spatial semantics and digital annotation: mapping Pausanias's "Description of Greece"

    In this presentation I discuss Recogito (https://recogito.pelagios.org/), a web-based platform for collaborative annotation, developed by Pelagios (https://pelagios.org/). Its open source software provides support for working with either text or image documents, including those served via the IIIF or CTS-TEI protocols. Specifically designed for the semantic annotation of place, Recogito facilitates the transcription, marking up and geo-resolving of manuscript maps and textual documents (e.g. histories, itineraries, etc.), in ways that both enrich the material and allows their linking up to other resources. Its more general annotation functionality further enables the marking up of people and events, the use of tags to provide “folksonomy” typologies, and relational tagging to mark relations between different entities. Conceived of as part of a workflow “pipeline”, Recogito provides out-of-the-box map-based visualisations, as well as options for downloading the data in a range of formats (CSV, RDF, geo-JSON) for use in other applications (such as Gephi). As a case study I reflect on the annotation of the spatial form of, and the forms of space within, the second-century CE Periegesis ("Description of Greece") by Pausanias. Using Recogito to unpick Pausanias's "thick" description of Greece's human landscape, I show how annotating places and objects in space, the relations between them, and the intersections of space and time, highlights the extent to which Pausanias constructs a virtual pilgrimage through an imaginary Greece that exists not on the ground but in the text, in the memories and myths of local landscape(s). As well as helping us get closer to the text, annotating in Recogito also poses a series of challenges relating to issues of ambiguity, complexity and multiplicty: when you can annotate anything, what limits do you place on it, what kinds of typologies can be developed for analysis, and what use can be made of the annotated results?
  • Marco Büchler
    Extraction of Entity Networks from textual data

    Extraction of Entity Networks from textual data

    Texts are one of the most dominant types of human-produced data and include many relations between entities like persons and places. The paper presents the recent state of the art in building social and entity networks from texts. It includes the following steps of entity recognition and typing, disambiguation of the entities as well as methods of connecting extracted entities with each other in order to form a network. The paper reflects critically on the challenges during the different tasks and highlights both potentials but also bottlenecks. The contribution primarily considers Bible editions as a textual basis in order to compare different networks being extracted from different editions.
  • Øyvind Eide
    Landscape descriptions in documents: between materiality and semiotics

    Landscape descriptions in documents: between materiality and semiotics

    Landscape descriptions in the form of texts and maps fill different functions and afford the communication of different spatial understandings. In the paper these differences will be outlined in terms of the media modalities of expressions in the both media, with an eye to the differences between technical media and the historical and the multi-layered cultural functions of each medium and each document. The activity of creating and using documents and how these processes relate to the embodied experience of being in the landscape will be discussed in the light of computer assisted modelling. The presentation will be based on different examples with historical material from Northern Scandinavia as the main source material.
  • Susan Grunewald
    Exploring Historical Spaces and Traces with the World Historical Gazetteer

    Exploring Historical Spaces and Traces with the World Historical Gazetteer

    This paper will introduce the World Historical Gazetteer (http://whgazetteer.org/), a project of the University of Pittsburgh’s World History Center. The World-Historical Gazetteer (WHG) project is a Linked Open Data system that stores data and services aimed to supporting collaborative data-drive historical scholarship at the global scale. It focuses, but not exclusively, on information since 1500. It is based on a gazetteer of significant world historical place names and major cities and states built upon print historical atlas indexes, linguistic atlases, and modern physical geography datasets combined with data from GeoNames, the Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names (TGN), and DBpedia. The WHG provides content and services that allow world historians, their students, and the general public to undertake spatial and temporal reasoning and visualization in a data rich environment at both the global and trans-regional scales. The project aims to provide broad coverage of modern places and historical depth over time through attestations from historical sources. In time, these instances of trace data will enable scholars, students, and the general public to explore the connections between places over time. (co-authored with Ruth Mostern and Karl Grossner)

Abstract

The panel investigates possibilities of Digital Humanities-approaches to analyse spatial semantics since the 18th century. It is proposed within the broader frame of the Collaborative Research Centre 1199, „Processes of Spatialization under the Global Condition“ (Leipzig University, Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO), Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (IfL)). Likewise, the panel is connected to another panel proposal (Middell/Marung: Spatial Literacy and DH) and to a panel proposal for a roundtable (Marung/Steinbach-Hüther: Between the spatial and the digital turn: Challenges for scholars, publishers and funding agencies in global and transnational history). The CRC developed the heuristic of spatial formats and spatial orders as reasonable categories to analyse and consider modern global history as the history of processes of (re-)spatialization which themselves are a central dimension of social actions. The question is how to investigate these structures. What can be accessible for researching these structures are changes in the use of more or less popular spatial semantics. We start from the hypothesis that these are indicators for changes in the perception of spatial orders. Therefore, changes in the use of spatial semantics are preconditions for the transformations of spatial orders into new spatial orders or for developing new spatial formats as parts of existing spatial orders. That is why we study the changes and shifts of spatial semantics in different national and linguistic contexts from the 18th century onwards. This is not trivial and needs the support and collaboration with Digital Humanities as the possible material which can be analysed is vastly growing. The panel’s aim is to stimulate the discussion between ongoing projects that take those forms of research up with those that investigate other transformations of semantics. We undertake comparisons to make a commitment towards new ways of collaboration between cultural, social, historical approaches and DH-approaches. Following the idea of the CRC 1199, we understand spatial semantics as verbally and visually conveyed meanings and structures of meaning that put the medium of the space in the centre of consideration. The participants of the panel are asked to shed a light on computer-based approaches and practical contributions to analyse imaginations, visualisations, images, pictures, and textually transmitted metaphors from various disciplines such as Geography, Spatial History, History and Cultural Sciences. Additionally, it can be looked at transitions, shifts, translations, relations, transfers and entanglements between various media and languages of “significance-makings”. It will then be possible to also consider what was made visible/invisible or available/non-available respectively, and to analyse the connections between majorities versus minorities in terms of spatial semantics. This should lead to a critical discussion of different computer-based methodological approaches, how (spatial) semantics from the 18th century onwards can be analysed. The examples shall exemplarily illustrate and underpin a methodological state of the art which is identified throughout the panel and the different contributions. With its approach to report from practical experiences (while the Roundtable introduces to rather “institutionalised” perspectives from publishing houses, research institutions, research foundations, DH-centres etc.), the panel will take place complementarily with the panel about „Spatial Literacy and DH”. The relatively new term of spatial literacy may also build a bridge between the various contributions of the panellists of both panels. It would be nice to bring together the different contributions in a common publication (journal article in a peer reviewed journal). The paper will introduce into the general question (Spatial Semantics and DH), the main part will discuss the different methods as applied in the case studies and the last part will take up the panel discussion and give an overlook over further research possibilities, all the while being enriched by the other two discussions.