‘Transactionography’ for Multilingual Historical Financial Records

8 04 2016

AS: I’m drawing an important event that is taking place today at Wheaton College, where Naoki Kokaze & Kiyonori Nagasaki of the University of Tokyo will be presenting research that will likely interest a wide variety of scholars in economic history, business history, archival science, and digital humanities.

 

Paper Abstract:

This presentation deals with transactions held between the governments of Great Britain and China in 1863, in which some warships were purchased by the Chinese government of the Qing dynasty. The purpose of those transactions for the Chinese government was to contribute with minimal financial cost in the suppression of the activities of pirates and rebels in Chinese territory without building a navy, by introducing the advanced Western military technology. On the other hand, the purpose for British government was to decrease the burden of the duty required to maintain the order of the China seas–a job previously performed by the British navy rather than the Chinese maritime force, and also to aim to reduce the naval expenditures. Thus there were financial and military aims for both governments behind the transactions.

Financial records respecting those transactions can be found both in ‘Hansard 1803-2005’, archives about British parliamentary debates available online, and in ‘Hǎi Fáng Dàng jiǎ’, Chinese official archives relating to coastal defense edited in 1957. We will attempt to mark up these transactions by the ‘transactionography’ methodological approach proposed by Dr. Kathryn Tomasek in her article published in 2013, ‘Encoding Financial Records for Historical Research‘.

This methodology is an extended model of Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), the de facto standard for marking up sources for humanities, in order to mark up appropriately various kinds of Historical Financial Records (HFRs) containing histories of the exchange of goods and service, such as receipts or account ledgers. Although the markup structure might be intricate if trying to describe, e. g., the difference of information which could be found between the historical sources as annotation based on TEI, the ‘transactionography’ would further be applied to historical researches of the various disciplines, taking into consideration the value of HFRs and the flexible structure of this methodology.

In fact, we have already made efforts to mark up trade statistics of Chinese maritime customs in 1860 based on the ‘transactionography’ model. The transitional result of the attempt was presented in a workshop of Digital Humanities in Japan, and discussed among Japanese DH researchers in May 2015. On the basis of this result, we’ve been developing our research.

There are two aims of this presentation: at first, to investigate the extensibility of the ‘transactionography’ model for markup of macro commercial transactions, and secondly, to attempt to mark up multilingual HFRs.

Regarding the first point, Tomasek focused on micro commercial transactions relating to a personal life in the article. But, naturally enough, a commercial transaction is included in the trade which is also performed between states as well as in the individual realm. When it comes to marking up of those macro commercial transactions, the issue of how to tag the states or the governments which were subjects of commercial transactions is expected to be left as a problem.

With regard to the second point, we look for a possibility that ‘transactionography’ can be applied to markup of HFRs written in English and Chinese, and through which we are actually capable of illustrating a model about the linkage between the markup of multilingual HFRs.

At the conference, we would be happy to hear arguments that can deepen about the extensibility of the ‘transactionography’ with your all participants, based on the contents we will offer.

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