Dissident Networks Project

The “Dissident Networks Project” (DISSINET), hosted at Masaryk University’s Centre for the Digital Research of Religion, is a research initiative exploring dissident and inquisitorial cultures in medieval Europe from the perspective of social network analysis, geographic information science, and computational text analysis. It uses computational methods to shed new light on the social microstructure and spatiality of medieval dissident Christianities, on inquisitorial trials and records and, by extension, on medieval social networks, the functioning of covert networks, and the emergence of religion from local interactions.

DISSINET covers various heresy inquisitions in Languedoc from the 1230s to the 1320s; Lombardy and Tuscany from the 1240s to the 1300s; German-speaking areas from the 1390s to the 1430s; and England from the 1430s to the 1520s, thereby covering the diverse dissident cultures conventionally labelled as Cathars, Waldensians, Guglielmites, Beguins, Fraticelli, and Lollards.

For 2021-2026, the project has been awarded an ERC Consolidator grant. It builds on the progress already made by the project team under the funding of a Czech Science Foundation EXPRO grant (January 2019 to August 2021).

DISSINET in brief

  • the close and critical reading of sources combined with computational techniques of exploration, analysis, and visualisation;
  • a representative selection of medieval inquisitorial records and dissident religious cultures;
  • a focus on richly characterized relations and interactions between particular historical actors;
  • 8,000 persons, 5,000 locations, 10,000 concepts, and 500,000+ relations (target volume by 2026);
  • outcomes in the form of articles, interactive maps and visualisations, software tools, and data.

“Not only will DISSINET cover new ground in medieval studies and history; it will also help form a new generation of researchers who combine strong domain knowledge with a set of promising digital technologies.”

A peer review of the EXPRO grant application
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The Dissident Networks Project (DISSINET) has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 101000442, project “Networks of Dissent: Computational Modelling of Dissident and Inquisitorial Cultures in Medieval Europe”).

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