Benjamin Martin: "What Was the ‘Culture’ of Cultural Treaties?"

  • Date: –15:00
  • Location: Engelska parken - The Rausing Room
  • Organiser: Department of History of Science and Ideas
  • Contact person: Sven Widmalm
  • Seminarium

The Higher Seminar

Benjamin Martin, Uppsala University: "What Was the ‘Culture’ of Cultural Treaties?: Digital Text Analysis for the Intellectual History of International Relations."

In my current research on the intellectual history of international relations, I aim to use digital methods of text analysis to explore conceptual content and change in diplomatic texts. Specifically, I am interested in the sub-set of bilateral treaties explicitly related to cross-border cultural exchange -- cultural treaties -- some 2000 of which were signed in the twentieth century. What methods and workflows seem most appropriate for this task? Our answer thus far has been to keep it simple. Inspired by recent work by Franco Moretti, Sarah Allison and others, we apply a straightforward form of quantitative word trend analysis, integrated with analysis of metadata about the corpus and tested (and expanded) through full-text searching. By formulating this approach in a specific relationship to the nature of the corpus and the historical questions I want to ask of it, we are able to get quite a lot out of this simple method. In this paper, I describe this approach, share some provisional findings, and offer some methodological reflections.

Material in English, discussion in Swedish and English