CEDRR talk: "Discussion on Big Data and Network Research in the Traditional Historiography of the Portuguese Colonial Empire"
13 April 2022
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Online dicussion with Dr. Agata Bloch (Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences), and Dr. Demival Vasques Filho (Leibniz Institute for European History, Germany) will take place via ZOOM link stated above.
Authors' abstract: This project uses historical 'Big Data' extracted via cutting-edge machine learning algorithms to reconstruct and model large temporal social networks of the Portuguese Empire. By using such rich historical data and innovative methods, it aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the processes of institutional and local elite empowerment in Brazil and other Portuguese colonies in the Atlantic from the Restoration of the House of Braganza in 1640 to Brazilian independence in 1822.
The second goal of this project is to bring together two modern interpretations of the Portuguese empire: the important role of the colonies and the agency of ordinary people who were not part of the elite. Our hypothesis is that many of them - whites, blacks, indigenous, gipsies and autochthones, women and men, Catholics and non-Catholics, free and enslaved - actively contributed to shaping the rules and policies of Brazilian and West African colonial spaces. The study goes beyond the historical mainstream based on the Atlantic elite and shows how smaller non-elite groups and local networks shaped the continent from below.
The proposed project builds on a previous collaboration between Dr. Agata Bloch (Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences), Dr. Demival Vasques Filho (Leibniz Institute for European History, Germany), and Dr. Michał Bojanowski (Kozminski University, Poland). The result of this collaboration is a unique set of network data consisting of nearly 170,000 documents of the administrative correspondence of the Portuguese Empire from 1640 to 1822. These letters, which make up our dataset, sent to and from Portugal, offer enormous potential for creating a bottom-up history due to their wide variety of topics.