Entangled Worlds: the Idea

Radio interview with Johannes Preiser-Kapeller on "networks" and their analysis (in German):


While the term “network” has been used abundantly in historical and archaeological research in the last years, the actual number of studies taking into account the methodology of network analysis is increasing, but still limited. The reluctance of scholars to adapt tools of network analysis can be also connected with the conceptual and terminological divide between humanities and formal sciences. At the same time, the user-friendliness of software tools may tempt others to use them as “black boxes” in order to produce a variety of figures without being aware of the underlying concepts.

Against this background, the project “Mapping medieval conflicts: a digital approach towards political dynamics in the pre-modern period (MEDCON)” at IMAFO, funded within the go!digital-programme of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, aims at an evaluation of concepts of social and spatial network analysis for studying phenomena of political conflict in medieval societies. For this purpose, a generalizable work flow from data input on the basis of medieval sources to the creation, visualisation and analysis of social and spatial network models and their web-based publication and presentation is created.

Even more, a cooperation was established with the Austrian Archaeological Institute (OeAI) within the framework of the DARIAH-network of the European Union with a focus on “Spatial and social network analysis”. The aim is to foster the development of and reflection on tools of network analysis for the study of complex phenomena of the past in exchange with scholars both from the humanities and from the sciences.


For this purpose, the conference “Entangled Worlds. Network analysis and complexity theory in historical and archaeological research” will assemble specialists from various disciplines of historical and archaeological studies as well as mathematics, physics and computer sciences in order to discuss in particular the following four overlapping topics:

  • Entangling data: the organisation of relational data on the basis of historical and archaeological evidence (ontologies, software, workflows, standards)
  • Entangling texts and people: the modelling and analysis of networks on the basis of textual evidence and narratives (prosopography, diplomatics, epistolography, historiography)
  • Entangling sites and artefacts: the modelling and analysis of networks on the basis of archaeological evidence (objects, places, mobilities and exchange)
  • Entangling dynamics: the modelling of complex past societies and networks (spatial and temporal dynamics, scales and mechanisms of networks, mathematical modelling)


The conference will be accompanied by a presentation of approaches and tools to the wider public. Proceedings will be published in a collective (peer reviewed) volume. For invited participants, expenses for travel and accommodation will be covered.

The programme: https://www.dasanderemittelalter.net/conference-entangled-words/entangled-worlds-the-programme/

Abstracts: https://www.dasanderemittelalter.net/conference-entangled-words/entangled-worlds-networks-of-the-past/

Participants: https://www.dasanderemittelalter.net/conference-entangled-words/entangled-worlds-people/


For further information: Johannes.Preiser-Kapeller@oeaw.ac.at and sabine.ladstaetter@oeai.at

Websites: https://oeaw.academia.edu/MappingMedievalConflict and https://www.oeai.at/