In the medieval period, ethnicity became a key resource in the reorganization of the political landscape. It provided a tool for integration and exclusion, for establishing and legitimizing power structures, for expressing notions of belonging and Otherness. Ethnic identity formation, however, is a complex, dynamic process with a wide variety of possible outcomes. It is shaped by a broad, changing intellectual repertoire, which is influenced by antique geography and ethnography, biblical models as well as by intercultural contacts and long-distance migrations causing a shift in perceptions of the Other and a reorganization of space.
Over the past few decades, research has developed complex models to show how self-identification and ascription, collective agency and social construction, information and prejudice interacted with each other. Our project started with the question of what methods and tools provided by Digital Humanities can contribute to make these complex identity processes more visible and to elucidate how ethnic terminology, ethnonyms and perceptions of space were intertwined with each other. In short, in MMP we want to reconstruct the perceptions and the mental maps of medieval authors by developing tools for semantic network analysis and geovisualization. This interdisciplinary approach will make the different angles from which ethnic groups were described more visible and will help to bring out the complexities and ambiguities of ethnic terminology.
In our contribution to the exhibition “Reiternomaden in Europa” we introduce our project and the Case Studies on the Steppe Peoples and provide a sneak peek on the tools that are currently being developed in the project.
We hope you find it interesting: MOVIE OEAW Mapping Medieval Peoples