From RICardo to GeoPolHist

GeoPolHist is a new tool of knowledge and research dedicated to the geopolitical entities that existed in the world since 1816. The idea for the GeoPolHist project derived from the RICardo trading entities that reflect the variety and complexity of the world trade network since the beginning of the 19th century. The RICardo dataset includes more than 1,400 RICentities, which can be countries, groups of countries, as well as cities, geographical or colonial areas. About 400 RICentities are identified as ‘countries’. Those of the ‘country’ type have been named and coded by using the lists of geopolitical units elaborated by the authors of the Correlates of War project. We revised and completed the COW lists to create a tool for quantitative analysis and visual exploration that traces the political status of more than 1,200 geopolitical entities of the world from 1816 to the present. GeoPolHist is intended to contribute to a renewal of research on the political history of the world over the last two centuries and to a better understanding of the effects of the political status (sovereign, non-sovereign) on other variables (economic, environmental, political…).

Conceptual and methodological issues are described in Béatrice Dedinger & Paul Girard (2021): How many countries in the world? The geopolitical entities of the world and their political status from 1816 to the present, Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, DOI:10.1080/01615440.2021.1939826.

Official release of the ‘RICardo Project’ database

We are very pleased to announce the official release of the RICardo dataset on the occasion of the bicentenary of David Ricardo’s Principles. The RICardo database is now freely available under the Open Database License in our data repository described under the Data Package format. Our data and transformation scripts are now opened to anyone to fuel research, to check our work or to get inspired for similar projects in Digital Humanities.

This release contains new data. Compared with the preliminary version opened to the public in July 2016, this updated version provides an extended trade database with new sources and new data. We were able to include many new primary sources thanks to the exploitation of a rich collection of trade statistics archived by the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (Insee). The process of adding and filtering data allowed us to correct some errors and anomalies remaining in the preceding version.

We also reworked our exploration tool, the RICardo website, which has been improved in multiple ways (thanks to the help of grants accorded by Sciences Po). A new graphical identity and better documentations including, besides the trade database, an exchange rate database, a directory of all the entities listed in the trade database, and a directory of data sources.

Hopefully, this will not be the last version. The trade database still needs to be completed, especially for the period 1914-1923, and with new primary sources overall. We are also thinking of new features to better exploit the data, such as a political codification of entities over time. Moreover, anomalies can still remain yet to be corrected. We are very grateful for remarks and comments that would help us in improving this work. They can be posted on our Hypotheses blog. We will also use this blog to discuss the choices we made and document the issues we tackled in a series of blog posts to come.