Social Science Matrix sponsors Research Seminar on Berkeley Prosopography Services

Social Science Matrix - Prosopography Seminar

The Social Science Matrix is sponsoring a year-long research seminar focused on helping researchers with the reconstruction of social contexts, modeling the relationships between people based upon available data and probabilistic models. The seminar, “Developing Tools and Collaborations in Prosopographical and Historical Social Network Research Environments” is co-organized by Laurie Pearce (Near Eastern Studies) and Patrick Schmitz (Research IT), who lead Berkeley Prosopography Services (BPS).

Prosopography is a research method focused on the analysis of data, primarily personal names preserved in historical documentation, to identify relationships and patterns of social interaction. The word prosopography derives from the Greek prosopoeia, or "face created,” reflecting that this methodology helps “put a face on” individuals about whom little, beyond a few basic facts, is known. It supports reconstruction of the networks of interaction and activity in which people lived and worked. Prosopography is an important tool for the study of all kinds of past societies. The BPS toolkit facilitates management and analysis of prosopographic data.

This research seminar — a continuation of a 2014 Matrix prospecting seminar — is leveraging the input of on- and off-campus partners to expand the toolkit for application to a broader set of domains, and to integrate BPS with other tools used in the analysis of text corpora.

Participants in the seminar include researchers from the Department of Near Eastern Studies, the Social Networks and Archival Context Project (with partners at the School of Information), and The Center for the Tebtunis Papyri, as well as external partners, such as the Perseids Project at Tufts University, the Coalition for Networked Information, and the University of Pacific's Coptic Scriptorium.

Goals of the research seminar include:

  • To explore common approaches for prosopography-based research that can be employed across domains.
  • To identify reusable components of the Berkeley Prosopography Services’ toolkit, and elicit user-driven needs for future expansion of BPS.

For more information, visit the BPS Website, or contact project leads Laurie Pearce or Patrick Schmitz.