Welcome to my website! Check out my research below and find out more about me on the 'about me' page. My Master's thesis was on the conceptual history of the Dutch concept "buitenland" ("the foreign"). Before that I was an intern at the Helsinki Computational History Group (COMHIS), and as a student-assistant at the KNAW Digital Humanities Lab (DHLab). Currently, I am also working the history of statistics and other conceptual history papers.
Publications & Conference Contributions
Van Eijnatten, J., & Ros, R. (2019). The Eurocentric Fallacy. A Digital Approach to the Rise of Modernity, Civilization and Europe. International Journal for History, Culture and Modernity, 7.
According to recent literature, the idea of Europe as it developed during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries coincided closely with the concepts of ‘civilization’ and ‘modernity’. This article examines this claim by testing the existence of modernity, civilization and Europe as a conceptual ‘trinity’ by using digital history techniques. Word frequencies, collocations and word embeddings are employed to analyze four Dutch newspapers (Algemeen Handelsblad, Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant, De Telegraaf, De Leeuwarder Courant) spanning the period 1840-1990. It transpires that semantic relations between the three elements are hardly visible; in so far as they appear, they hardly constitute a close-knit ‘trinity’. Alternating combinations among the three components were more significant than direct connections between all three, while ‘the West’ was more central than Europe. These findings suggest that popular media like newspapers have a different take on cultural-political concepts than writings by the intellectual elite.
Hengchen, S., Ros, R., and Marjanen, J. (2019). Models for “A data-driven approach to the changing vocabulary of the ‘nation’ in English, Dutch, Swedish and Finnish newspapers, 1750-1950”
Conceptual Vocabularies and Changing Meanings of “Foreign” in Dutch Foreign News (1815-1914). Digital Humanities 2019, Utrecht.
The nineteenth century saw a ‘transformation of the world’ in the form of increasing communication, technological advancements and international political action (Osterhammel, 2014). One of the prime vehicles through which nineteenth century publics registered these changes was foreign news (Koopmans, 2005; Broersma 2007; Pettegree 2014; Rantanen 2007). Newspaper articles not only described, but also defined what was considered global, international and foreign. This poster shows how the concept of the foreign (expressed in the Dutch noun ‘buitenland’ and the adjective ‘buitenlands(ch)e’) changed over the course of the long nineteenth century. It does so by a computational analysis of foreign news in Dutch newspapers between 1815 and 1914. Over the course of the nineteenth century, the singularized buitenland was not only conceptually constructed, but also invested with particular meanings and associations. Based on historical and contemporary reflections on foreignness, I focus on four associations: scale, distance, stability, and temporality (Honig, 2000; Saunders, 2011). I analyze how the concept of ‘buitenland’ became associated with largeness, closeness/farness, instability and the future. Given that they are expressed as words or conditions of words I use diachronically aligned vector space models to detect words semantically related to the associations. The resulting vocabularies are then connected to n-gram frequency measures and collocations to diachronically analyze the form and quantity of these associations in connection to the concept of ‘buitenland’. This research shows how during the nineteenth century the concept of ‘buitenland’ singularized. Foreign space was no longer spoken of in the plural, but in the singular. In the late nineteenth century mental geographies, ‘buitenland’ maintained a crucial place. Moreover, in the process of singularization several semantic properties became attached to the concept. The foreign was increasingly associated with largeness, instability and an uncertain future. The conceptual history of ‘buitenland’ hereby contributes to our understanding of today’s idea of globalization, an idea that is also permeated by associations of uncertainty and unstoppable change. Foreign news is thus not only a silent witness, but also an historically shaping factor of these developments.