Our second advisory board workshop took place here at the Humanities Research Institute in Sheffield on the 8th of January. As with last year, we were pleased to host a number of distinguished scholars, working on databases, the late antique clergy and/or social network analysis from countries such as Austria, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Spain and the UK.
In the first part of this workshop, we had the chance to become acquainted with a range of complementing projects currently undertaken throughout Europe. Margarita Vallejo Girvès (Alcalá) presented some of her own work on exile, both secular and clerical, up to 711 AD, including a data collection for internal use, compiled by herself and her research group. It concentrates on dates and exile types rather than on relationships of people in exile, which is central to our own research question on clerical exiles. Stanislaw Adamiak (Warsaw) gave an insight into a database project on presbyters in the Early Church, including translations of pertinent texts, currently ongoing as a team project at the University of Warsaw. Bryan Ward-Perkins (Oxford) directs a Cult of the Saints project, including a database on early saints. His presentation focused specifically on the smell of dead saints. It included useful insights into tagging and categorisation of key words.
In the late morning session, Julia Hillner and myself presented the current state of our own database, currently comprising around 250 exile cases, roughly the same amount of locations and 500 people or groups in total. We introduced the current search surface (including a highly developed map search involving several layers) and the admin version of the database model, along with the research questions pertinent to this project.
After lunch, all of the participants kindly tested the current state of our database search function. In the process, we received valuable feedback, for example, concerning free-text categories to browse and considerations on the possible target group of these search tools.
Our guest-speakers concluded the day with a diverse range of topics on social network analysis, which is central to, and informs, our own research questions. Our own Julia Hillner gave a paper on social networks associated with exiles, including a range of quantitative approaches to identify and analyse these, ranging from the reconstruction of ‘real’ networks to that of ‘imagined’ ones. Máirín MacCarron (Sheffield) talked about her project on mapping interpersonal relationships in early medieval hagiographies, with special emphasis on the role of women. Johannes Preiser-Kapeller (Vienna) presented sophisticated slides of computerised social network graphs related to conflict in the medieval Byzantine world. All presentations that day included time to discuss and to ask questions.
We were delighted to invite the group to two communal dinners, involving internal discussions on research questions, and we all look forward to the next meeting of this kind to be held this time at the University of Halle (Germany).