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Graphs and Networks in the Humanities 2025

Graphs & Networks Conference 2025 – 12 – 14 February 2025, Mendrisio, Switzerland, hosted by the Università della Svizzera italiana

Data on biographies” and “biographies of data” denote two approaches that bring the notion of biography together with digital methods. The first relates to investigations of human lives enhanced with computer tools. The second extends the established notion of artefact biographies to consider data as part of material culture. Both approaches will be looked at during the 2025 Graphs and Networks conference in order to better understand how they may be complementary or contradictory and in what ways bringing the two together can help us explore data. 

Nowadays, digital tools substantially aid us in biographical studies both on the level of the individual and the group. But they also lead us to ask new questions:

How do we model identity to represent both fluid self-identifications and normative labels that are externally applied to individuals?

In what ways do we represent varied individual experiences of the same event?

How do we deal with privacy and sensitive data requirements?

Where in our datasets can we find the voices of witnesses who are poorly represented in historical and cultural studies?

And how can we better accommodate them?

These questions confront us not only with the nuts-and-bolts aspects of digital methods, but also with their epistemological dimension, especially when digital methods interact with social and cultural research.

Data is now seen as an artefact, a thing, as well as a reflection of the world or a straightforward object of study. Its materiality and situatedness have been highlighted emphatically by the rich new work produced in the context of digital anthropology. We might thus productively speak of biographies of datasets – their births and deaths, their relationships, their mobility, provenance and creation histories, variations in their value and status, stories of their entanglements with the subjectivities of human agents, and networked interactions between biographies of data and those of other artefacts (and people). Thinking about datasets as artefacts also encourages us to see them as “capta” (Drucker 2011) – as constructed and situated entities that embody bias, and not to take their claim to objectivity for granted. Asking questions about biographies of data is thus the first step in a crucial conversation about the power relations, vested interests and other social conditions in which data emerges.

You are invited to apply with presentations of research involving graphs and networks in any discipline on the topic of biographies of data as well as biographies of people and things studied with the help of data-driven approaches.

Read more and apply here.

Key dates:

01.05.2024 – publication of the CfP

15.07.2024 – deadline for submissions

30.09.2024 – notification of acceptance / rejection

15.10.2024 – registration opening

15.12.2024 – registration for in-person attendance closing

10.02.2025 – registration for online attendance closing

11-12 February – pre-conference workshops (Geovistory + one other tbc)


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