Project (2023-2027)

The Lives and Afterlives of Material Infrastructures in East Asian History

This research group (funded by ERC and NWO, and hosted by KU Leuven History Department and International Institute of Social History) collaborates with the Local Gazetteers Working Group at the MPIWG to analyze the social history of large-scale infrastructures, such as city walls, roads, and bridges, and their impact in regional and trans-regional dis/integration in late imperial Chinese history (between approximately 1000 and 1900). Specifically, this project aims to utilize LoGaRT, the Local Gazetteers Research Tools developed at MPIWG, to (1) identify records and images on the construction, destruction, and renovation of walls, bridges, and roads; (2) visualize the spatial and temporal patterns in the availability of such records in the broader corpus of gazetteers; (3) collaborate on an event-based digital history of material infrastructures in East Asia.

Combining other digital services, such as MARKUSDOCUSKY, and DOCUGIS, and using a variety of comparative historical and digital approaches including network analysis, digital archeology, and machine learning techniques, the team will demonstrate LoGaRT’s potential to study both the micro-history of short-lived infrastructures and the longue-durée view of regional and trans-regional patterns of infrastructural development and contraction. Digitized gazetteers serve as major primary sources for this working group to write a comparative history of infrastructural development and decline and to investigate the material production of spatial units, such as regions and empires, across East Asia.