Two Talks on CBDB's Structure & Research Applications

CBDB Seminar

March 26 2019


由于Michael Fuller教授与陈松教授的造访,哈佛大学CBDB项目组于326日举行晚餐会议,由项目经理Edith主持,二位教授进行主题演讲。

Prof Michael Fuller of UC Irvine, CBDB planning committee member and designer of the current version of CBDB, spoke on CBDB’s unique characteristics and functionality as a relational database. Prof Fuller began with an outline of the database’s conceptual underpinnings, explaining that the research undertaken by means of databases such as CBDB falls under the category of prosopography, or “the investigation of the common background characteristics of a group of actors in history by means of a collective study of their lives” (Lawrence Stone, “Prosopography”). Unlike other historical reference materials or archives, CBDB is specifically built to allow systematic study of the world it encompasses.

The fundamental structure of CBDB, as Prof Fuller described, is as follows: it records a series of entities and linkages that, taken together, reflects the network of interconnected institutions that shaped social experience in premodern China. The main forms of data recorded are as follows: social networks, kinship networks, the official system, social status, people, places, social institutions, modes of entering service, and so on. Rather than storing these data as discrete factoids, the database’s relational model provides a powerful and distinctive method of examining the relationships between different elements of social experience.

Prof Fuller ended with a discussion of his goals for future development of CBDB. Firstly, to extend the database’s relational model as needed to include all the information that scholars may consider important for the study of patterns of social experience in premodern China. Secondly, as a new interface for the database is in the works, it is imperative that the next generation interface must allow users to take full advantage of the flexibility and power of CBDB’s design as a relational database.

陈松教授的报告主题是中国政治精英的转型。陈教授认为,唐宋时期是重要的分水岭。目前部分学者的研究,着眼于士大夫的行为方式,如迁徙模式、婚姻对象,但不可避免地存在一个问题:以这种方式定义下,唐宋转型具体在什么时间点,原因是什么。接着,陈教授用CBDB的数据分析唐代精英阶层居住的区域,呈现出集中于北方首都圈的分布状况,同时,陈教授比较CBDB数据库中 1040-1049年、1210-1219年两个时间段郡守籍贯的差异,1040-1049年的郡守主要来自开封、洛阳地区,而到了1210-1219年,则来自于东南沿海地区,并没有集中在行在杭州,这其实与南宋时期沿海地区生活殷实,家庭重视教育有关。

随后,陈教授给大家展示了社会关系网络的可视化呈现,在图中,我们可以清晰的观测到1040-1049年郡守亲属关系密切,形成了以京畿地区为中心的庞大政治联姻关系网,而在1210-1219之间,郡守间关系网络则疏远了许多,在两浙福建、四川这两大区域相对独立地分布,两者界线分明。陈教授又以图片形式简单呈现了博士论文的部分内容,基于墓志铭的数据,陈教授排列了宋代各时期四川籍贯官员任官地点分布和宋代各时段四川官僚的婚姻网络关系,通过该案例来解析群体传记学的研究方法,进而推出CBDB的“Data Organization Modeling Life Histories”和“Multi-Point Data AccessQuerying the Databse”,最后,陈教授以吕夷简等人为例,指导听众们如何抓取CBDB资料,并利用GIS等工具如何制作可视化地图。