Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Visualizing Cryptographic Networks of Spies, Diplomats and Scientists, 1603-1701

"Visualizing Cryptographic Networks" will enhance the completion of a monograph with the design of an open access web-laboratory.

Nadine Akkerman

My monograph argues that the role of female spies in seventeenth-century Europe was much more extensive than hitherto assumed. The male world of the spy was permeated by women. During my research, analyzing cipher keys unearthed proof of female intelligencers, and the wider networks of which they formed a part, the hubs where intelligence circulated. Cryptography is the preferred language not only of spies, but also of diplomats, military leaders and scientists. I plan to design an interactive web laboratory, in which cipher keys can be added, stored, shared, broken and searched, a tool which will enable scholars from different fields to map the operations of hidden networks.

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