RegInfra analyses how infrastructures such as city walls, roads, and bridges contributed to regional and empire-wide integration, and equally how they contributed to countervailing trends including local tensions, local autonomy, and cross-border regional formations in late imperial Chinese history (ca. 1000-1800). At a time when the People’s Republic of China is heavily investing in domestic and cross-continental infrastructures, we aim to map, compare, and critically analyse the material infrastructures on which Chinese polities of the past have been constructed.
Key objectives include:
• mapping the appearance and disappearance of large-scale infrastructures on an open access spatial analysis platform based on the digital annotation of the extant textual and archaeological record;
• conducting comparative spatial analyses of the distribution of infrastructure features, their construction, maintenance, breakdown, uses and cultural meanings, and developing a regional history of infrastructures on this basis;
• comparing data derived from the historical textual record and from modern archaeological reports and modelling processes of infrastructure development and decline;
• publishing research in the fields of history, digital archaeology, and infrastructure studies that will substantially revise existing historiographies on the nature, durability, and efficacy of material infrastructures and contribute to emerging historiographies that place socio-economic and cultural developments in regional contexts and cross-border contact zones;
• developing an event-based digital annotation method that will be made available for use in various languages;
• developing a method for the automated extraction of data on infrastructure in Chinese archaeological reports including an ontology and a machine learning model
Through these activities we aim to foster broader debate about the past and present uses and meanings of historical infrastructures and their digitization.
Call for proposal
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