Universiteit Leiden

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Leiden University Centre for Digital Humanities

Renee Hagesteijn

KITLV Royal Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies, associated Fellow; Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, Senior Advisor to the Executive Board


Comparative corpus analysis; multi-user Microsoft ‘.net’ software; to be extended or complemented with tools for character recognition and text mining.

Current DH projects

The aim is to shed a light on what went on underneath the cover of Indianised and Chinese representation of events in early Southeast Asia. It entails a comprehensive comparison of the content of local written sources (mostly inscriptions) (500-1500 CE. Communications and interactions of elites will be analysed, both in original and in translated mirror versions. Initially there are two research lines, both in space and time: (1) quantitative analysis of religious and political donations, to track trends in socio political relationships; (2) evolution of political concepts.

For the first research line a comprehensive, interactive database is being developed, with the intention to:

  • trace trends in time and place in volumes of religious and political donations and transactions

  • combine the content of the inscriptions with the larger spectrum of written and archaeological remains in the region and with data on climatological and environmental conditions

  • analyse blind spots, lack of sources and their methodological consequences

  • enable inclusion of future findings of data

  • gain new insights, study pivotal aspects, tipping points, resilience

  • compare trends in Southeast Asia with similar developments in South America, Europa and Africa

  • contribute to the theoretical debate on the nature of historical socio-political structures and interactions.

In view of the multi-language challenges of this project, it is being set up as a cooperative project with other interested scholars and students.

For the second research line tools will need to be built for text mining and accompanying analysis to trace trends in the local and regional evolution of political titles concepts, as well as their effective meaning in political ‘reality’. Cooperation is being sought in the network of LUCDH.


Renee Hagesteijn is a political anthropologist particularly interested in political dynamics, centralization processes, state formation; informal politics in formal political systems; conditions for political legitimacy and stability; consequences and limitations of scaling up political influence.

Renee conducted MA fieldwork in West Java, Indonesia and wrote a PhD thesis an subsequently published on political dynamics in early continental South East Asia. While also pursuing a multifaceted career in science management at the national research council she remained interested in theoretical developments on the verge of anthropology, political science and history. Recently she caught up with the advances in digital scholarship, as a novice with a keen interest to learn fast.



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