Deep Dive with Professor Peter Bol of Harvard University

Photograph of Professor Peter Bol, Harvard University

Professor Peter Bol of Harvard University leads the next Deep Dive into Data and Digital Methods for Chinese Studies

The next event in the “Deep Dive into Digital and Data Methods for Chinese Studies” series will be held on February 20-21 with Professor Peter Bol (Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University). The topic will be using data-driven methods and the China Biographical Database to research Chinese local history. The lecture, entitled Localist Turns: A Data-Driven Approach to Chinese Local History, will be held Thursday, February 20, 2020, 12:00 - 1:00 pm in the Clark Library Instructional Space (240 Hatcher Graduate Library). It is free and open to the public, and light refreshments will be provided.

Every major Chinese dynasty experienced a localist turn in which the centralizing power of the founding gave way to increasing localism, but all localist turns were not the same. This talk will note the general phenomena and explore an influential localist turn that took place in Wuzhou (Jinhua) in Zhejiang province during the Mongols' Yuan dynasty, the consequences of which have continued into the present. This will also show how prosopographical, spatial, and network analysis can reveal key elements of elite social and cultural change.

The workshop, to be held Friday, February 21, from noon to 3 in the Hatcher Gallery Lab, will introduce the concepts and techniques of relational databases using the China Biographical Database (CBDB), spatial analysis using Quantum GIS (QGIS) and network analysis using Gephi. CBDB is database of over 425,000 men and women in Chinese history, mainly from the 7th to the early 20th century. The MS Access version used in this workshop can be freely downloaded from the CBDB website. Quantum GIS and Gephi are freeware. This hands-on workshop will show how to design simple and complex queries in a relational database; how to visualize the results on historically-accurate maps using QGIS and geographic datasets from the China Historical GIS (CHGIS); and how to visualize and measure different kinds of network centrality using Gephi. The workshop will provide the entire CBDB database and many CHGIS datasets.

A light lunch will be provided. The classroom is equipped with laptops, but please feel free to bring your own.

Registration required, please register if you are a U-M affiliate.
Non-U-M registrants should email Liangyu Fu at


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