Mapping Early British-Maghrebi Relations through Book Diffusion (1609-1800)



Fan Xiong

Project Summary

This project interrogates the cultural and social history of early modern British-Maghrebi relations through the diffusion of books in British society between 1609 and 1800. By tracing books bound in Morocco leather and books written in English about the Maghreb, it aims to reveal how physical encounters with the Maghreb and knowledge about it moved around Britain. Such mapping entails a digital, animated movement of these books over space and time to demonstrate the unexpected extent to which Maghrebi material culture penetrated Britain.

The original information includes 400 plus books, each featuring 17 different fields of data. They are restructured, reorganized, readjusted, or merged, which involves data wrangling and cleaning to make different subsets. Some of these files are converted into kml files through GeoJSON or Quick Coordinates to generate macroscopic, multi-layered, and data-driven movements with the time line on Temporal Earth. Others are mapped onto Google My Maps with affiliated visuals to unravel microscopic details such as obvious change of owner location, year range, and binding colour. Colour coding has also been used to excavate historical layers by identifying individual books stored at one specific location through Google Earth.


With appreciation of data provision by Dr. Nat Cutter, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies

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