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Posted by: julius 5 years ago


Team members Hilde De Weerdt and Julius Morche as well as Francisco Apellaniz (European University Institute) will form a panel at the European Social Science History Conference in Vienna (23-26 May 2014). The meeting will be chaired by Peter Stabel (University of Antwerpen), while Johannes Preiser-Kapeller (Austrian Academy of Sciences) will act as discussant.

The aim of the panel is to investigate the composition and internal dynamics of non-official elite communication networks (defined in this context as stable, yet not formally institutionalised systems of interconnection between societally influential individuals) in the High and Later Middle Ages from a Euro-Chinese comparative perspective. While the representation and analysis of social networks has played a significant role in both political and economic history (for example in the study of trade and political patronage), the meta-structures of networks and their significance for the development of social, political and economic institutions remain largely unexplored. This is particularly the case with respect to the way social ties between individuals served as informational networks and thus contributed to the building and maintenance of large-scale political structures.

Contributions will examine the political and economic dimensions of elite communication in China, Western and Southern Europe, and the Islamic Levant by investigating both channels of political information and their relevance for the development, maintenance and dismantlement of complex systems. In particular, the speakers will explore the specific roles of family ties, cross-cultural commercial contacts, political factionalisms and localised elite coalitions in facilitating or impeding the exchange of information within and across political entities. 

The panel also seeks to further the discussion on the application of social and economic network theory in historical research. By applying (or combining) both traditional hermeneutic methods and social network analysis tools, papers will explore the opportunities and limitations of current terminologies and methodologies in historical network approaches and thus contribute towards the generation of a general historiography of networks.


Analysing Networks of Communication: China and Europe in Comparative Perspective (800-1600); Friday, 25 April 2014, 11:00-13:00

Chair: Peter Stabel (University of Antwerpen); Discussant: Johannes Preiser-Kapeller (Austrian Academy of Sciences)

Francisco Apellaniz (European University Institute): “Cooperating in Complex Environments: Cross-cultural Trade, Commercial Networks and Notarial Culture in the Islamic Cities of Commerce (1350-1500)“

Hilde De Weerdt (Leiden University): “Analyzing political affiliations in notebooks and correspondence: factionalist politics revisited“

Franz-Julius Morche (Leiden University): “An Economic Model of Political Communication: Informational Networks in Venetian Long-Distance Trade, 1350-1500”



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