Mikkel Munthe Jensen: A Critical Study of Prosopographical Data Models
Challenges and Possibilities of a Pan-European Prosopographical Platform
In the period 4th – 22nd January 2016, I stayed at Oxford University as a STSM grantee. During my stay, I was so fortunate to be able to work and collaborate with the Culture of Knowledge Team (http://www.culturesofknowledge.org/) and its friendly, cooperative and very competent team members. Together with them and my STSM colleague, Jetze Touber, we entered a productive symbiosis of shared thoughts, ideas and experience, which not only supported my work there but also made my stay a very pleasant one.
The purpose of my stay was to critically study and to evaluate the EMLO’s prosopographical data model on the basis of my own experience with prosopographies. It was an exciting and in many ways also a challenging task, since it is the data model that constitutes the very fundamental structures underlying the entire prosopographical platform. During my time in Oxford, I worked therefore especially with the categories and the structure of categories, i.e. the data model, and together with the Culture of Knowledge Team I worked towards a clear and manageable system, that could encompass every prosopographical event from the protestant North to the catholic South, from a detailed level to generalisation, all through 300 years.
By evaluating the EMLO’s data model, I also re-evaluated my own prosopographical work, my own system and reason of choice. The STSM was therefore also very beneficial for my own research.
Finally, after my three weeks STSM my understanding of the entire ‘Reassembling the Republic of Letters’ project stands even clearer. It is a visionary project with a huge potential for current and future historians, working in all corners of intellectual history and history of science. Not only will it provide various researchers with a large range of tools to analyse their prosopographical data (network analyses, visualisations, mapping of mass data, statistics etc.), but it will also serve as pan-European collective container of prosopographical data and knowledge for all to share, use and populate.