A Macroscope for Global History. Seshat Global History Databank: a methodological overview

Pieter Francois, J.G. Manning, Harvey Whitehouse, Rob Brennan, Thomas Currie, Kevin Feeney, Peter Turchin

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This article introduces the ‘Seshat: Global History’ project, the methodology it is based upon and its potential as a tool for historians and other humanists. The article describes in detail how the Seshat methodology and platform can be used to tackle big questions that play out over long time scales whilst allowing users to drill down to the detail and place every single data point both in its historic and historiographical context. Seshat thus offers a platform underpinned by a rigorous methodology to actually do 'longue durée' history and the article argues for the need for humanists and social scientists to engage with data driven ‘longue durée' history. The article argues that Seshat offers a much needed infrastructure in which different skills sets and disciplines can come together to analyze the past using long timescales. In addition to highlighting the theoretical and methodological underpinnings, the potential of Seshat is demonstrated by showcasing three case studies. Each of these case studies is centred around a set of long standing questions and historiographical debates and it is argued that the introduction of a Seshat approach has the potential to radically alter our understanding of these questions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalDigital Humanities Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2016


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