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Our Research Objectives

Our research delves into the fascinating communication patterns of imperial commoners, whose behaviors were influenced by global events in a top-down manner. We suspect that these commoners shared similar characteristics, ideas, narratives, and thinking strategies on both sides of the Atlantic coast, shaping the course of global history. However, the empire's response to these commoners' behavior may have been different, leading to Global South inequalities.

What's particularly intriguing is that these commoners didn't act in isolation as a specific social group, such as indigenous people, Black people, or women. Instead, they exhibited attitudes that transcended class and gender, making for an engaging group biography. To get to the bottom of this, we'll analyze data on an unprecedented scale using cutting-edge natural language processing and network science techniques.

By examining how these people communicated with government officials both in the colonies and the metropolis, we'll be able to reconstruct prosopographic networks and examine the relationships between imperial commoners and authorities. With data on subject, time, and space, we'll gain a deeper understanding of the complex web of relational dynamics at play. It's an exciting journey into the past that promises to shed new light on the workings of the Portuguese Empire and its colonies.

St. Thomas, SW Coast Africa

WALKER, T. H., fl. ca 1900

National Library of Portugal, D. 357 A.

Global events shaped the way people communicated with each other, both in the colonies and the metropolis. From the high and mighty to the common folk, everyone was impacted, and their communication patterns were influenced by what was happening in the world. But it wasn't just about who was writing to whom, when, and about what. It was about the bigger picture - how did these communication networks reflect the changing political landscape?

In this project, we're diving deep into the history of the Atlantic Empire, examining how people from different backgrounds and social classes came together to shape policies and demand what they needed. From Rio de Janeiro to Salvador da Bahia to Luanda, we're exploring how imperial commoners played a part in shaping the course of history.  We're looking at how information flowed through these networks and how different types of knowledge reached the monarch and other officials. And we're not just interested in similarities - we're also exploring the differences in how concepts like race, violence, and knowledge transfer developed in different parts of the empire.

We'll see how imperial commoners transcended class and gender, and how they developed a greater awareness of their needs and demands. This is history like you've never seen it before - a connected history that reveals not just the similarities, but the unique paths taken by the people of Brazil and West Africa.

 These are the objectives we aim to achieve:

Dictionary of People, Places and Institutions

We aim to develop a comprehensive dictionary of people, places, and institutions. To achieve this goal, the team will use data mining techniques to clean and match data entities to identify name variations and distinguish between individuals who share the same name and title. Additionally, association techniques will be applied to match people's titles and occupations, and the team will track name changes of place units. To determine the historical development and geographic location of the names of places and institutions, the team will refer to early modern dictionaries and online resources.

Interests and Demands of the Citizens of the Atlantic Portuguese Empire 1640-1822

We examine the relationship between the global and local aspects of identity and state formation in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador da Bahia, and Luanda. The section uses topic modeling to categorize concepts related to race, violence, knowledge transfer, and other elements shaped by power relations during the colonial period. The section aims to understand how colonial policies influenced these concepts and how they affected the lives of commoners

Topic Modelling

​We will use the Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) algorithm to extract the semantic structure of large corpora and identify topics within individual letters. The initial parameterization of the algorithm and customization of the stopword list is a challenge that requires knowledge of the corpus and heuristics. The team will analyze categories of letters from overseas possessions containing information on social, administrative, political, religious, and economic matters, such as conflicts, settlers' memories or socio-political situations.

Evolution of network roles of officials and organizations 

We focus on studying the relationships between the imperial commoners and the Portuguese monarchs and the court. We  examine the role played by various officials at different levels of the hierarchy of the Portuguese Empire who received letters on various topics such as private life, public life, military, family, business or social advancement. We  investigate which officials tended to receive what kind of information and how these patterns changed over time. Our previous research has shown that officials' network positions changed over time, and we aim to explore how these changes influenced the governance model of the Portuguese Empire.

S. Vicente, Cabo Verde
Leaf Pattern Design
Migawka (1) a_preview_rev_1.png

We are proud to be affiliated with the Tadeusz Manteuffel Institute of History of the Polish Academy of Sciences and to belong to the Department of Historical Atlas, where there is a strong team for modeling and analyzing historical research data. Our project focuses on using advanced data analysis techniques to gain insights into historical events and trends. We are grateful for the support of the National Science Center of Poland, which has awarded us grant number OPUS: 2022/45/B/HS3/00473 to conduct this important research. We are passionate about using our expertise to shed new light on the past and look forward to sharing our findings with the broader academic community.

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