Digital Social and Spatial Networks in Asia, 1100–1800: Computational Analysis Approaches

AHA Session 26
Thursday, January 5, 2017: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Room 502 (Colorado Convention Center, Meeting Room Level)
Ruth Mostern, University of California, Merced
Hilde De Weerdt, Leiden University

Session Abstract

This panel shows how historians are using large datasets and innovative approaches to reach new conclusions about social and spatial organization in early modern Asia (taking both the temporal and spatial scope of that framework broadly). First, it explores methods and data sources themselves. Second, it reveals some of the ways in which spatially particular forms of social and political organization were transformed and consolidated in an era of changing mobility, rising population, growing literacy, and ambitious state agendas. These papers are presented chronologically, allowing us to demonstrate how social and spatial networks evolved, and how they responded to contingency and rupture. The panel spans the entirety of greater Asia, from Anatolia (and beyond) in the west to Korea in the east. It is thus attuned to disciplinary trends favoring transnational and south-south comparison. It permits us to investigate the notion of Asia as a concept and to interrogate whether there is anything regionally particular about the networks that we are presenting. Using computational methods to make social and spatial networks more visible, we are also bridging the gap between the local, regional, and imperial scales of analysis. In short, this panel showcases digital and quantitative methods and also demonstrates how historians are using them to reshape major historical concepts and to bring many social and spatial developments in Asia into focus.
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