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Archives Distant Reading: Mapping the Activity of the League of Nations' Intellectual Cooperation

Abstract : Founded in 1922 by the League of Nations upon observation that the pacification of Europe may benefit from a better collaboration between scientific elites, the International Committee on Intellectual Cooperation (ICIC) is responsible for coordinating the restructuration of knowledge circulation. Bringing together leading researchers at the height of their career, such as Albert Einstein, Marie Curie and George Hale, chaired by Henri Bergson, the Committee weaves a complex network between transnational scientific institutions and societies, congresses and individuals (Pernet 2014). This paper proposes an analysis of the work and functioning of the organization between 1919 and 1927 by setting up a database containing metadata of thousands of documents contained by the ICIC funds (United Nations Archives, Geneva). Visualized as a network of 3.200 people (tens of thousands of relationships), this work provides a new understanding of the internal organization of the Intellectual Cooperation, as well as completely new insights about its relations with the rest of the scientific and diplomatic world. In particular, we will show the necessity to compare the “micro” structure of relationships as mapped by the archive with the “macro” formal structure of the institution. Do the thousands of documents, in a distant reading approach (Moretti 2013), confirm the internal organization of the League of Nations or do they show individuals/communities that bypass the official hierarchy? As an opening to an epistemological debate, this research questions the relationship between the researcher, the database and its sources: are the metadata of an archive corpus usable information, regardless of their unique qualitative content? More technically, it also addresses the issue of data visualization and modeling in the historical sciences.
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Contributor : Martin Grandjean Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Sunday, May 21, 2017 - 11:12:25 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 23, 2017 - 1:04:47 AM
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  • HAL Id : halshs-01525565, version 1



Martin Grandjean. Archives Distant Reading: Mapping the Activity of the League of Nations' Intellectual Cooperation. Digital Humanities 2016, 2016, Krakow, Poland. pp.531 - 534. ⟨halshs-01525565⟩



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