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Networks and the study of the human past – EUSN 2019, 9-12 September Zurich

September 9 - September 12

Organized session at the 4th European Conference on Social Networks (EUSN 2019)
9-12 September 2019, Zurich, Switzerland (https://www.eusn2019.ethz.ch/)


Most network research focuses on contemporary data and is presentist in orientation, overlooking
the vast store of interesting data from the past. Over the last decades, a substantial number of
empirical studies have shown that both network theories and formal network methods can be
productively applied to (selected) bodies of historical and archaeological data. The aim of this
interdisciplinary session is to further extend the community of scholars in this field in Europe and
beyond by promoting contacts between the various disciplines that aim at making sense of past
phenomena through methods and theories derived from network analysis and network science.
We are looking for papers exploring the challenges and potential posed by such network studies of
past phenomena. Not exhaustive examples of such challenges and avenues include: incomplete and
missing data, usually without the possibility to collect more data; big data analytics and
textual/semantic network analysis based on (fragmented) sources; material sources as proxy
evidence for social phenomena; ability to explore long-term changes in past systems vs. the analysis
of mid-term or short-term processes and the historicity of ties; etc.
The session invites contributions from researchers from various disciplines applying methods of
formal network analysis and network science on the human past. We welcome submissions
concerning any period, geographical area or topic. The authors may be archaeologists, historians,
social scientists as well as scholars from other disciplines working with historical or archaeological data.

Topics might include but are not limited to:

  • past revolutions;
  • migration;
  • industrial revolution;
  • diffusion processes;
  • transitions from authoritarianism to democracy and back;
  • trade;
  • kinship;
  • war;
  • religion and
  • science.


To be eligible, the proposals should:

  • Address and clearly formulate research questions concerning past phenomena.
  • Critically address issues related to the sources/materials/construction of data used.
  • Explain why it is substantively interesting to consider their topic in formal network terms.
  • Elaborate what the added value of such a relational view is, and what methodological and theoretical choices it implies.

The paper proposals for the session will be selected by an interdisciplinary committee with expertise in doing network analysis and network science in the fields of archaeology, history, sociology, political science and religious studies.

Abstract submission:

The deadline for submission is April 12. Please submit your abstract of up to 500 words through the link on the conference homepage: https://www.eusn2019.ethz.ch/?page_id=173

Session organizers:

Tom Brughmans (University of Oxford), Martin Stark (ILS, Aachen), Ivo Veiga (Universidade Nova de Lisboa), Bernd Wurpts (University of Lucerne), David Zbíral (Masaryk University)


September 9
September 12