[workshop] Laws as a trace of History. Searching for societal shifts in XML data

This workshop aims to explore the digital collection of laws of the Official Compilation (Recueil Officiel des lois fédérales) from 1947 to 1998. Unlike most literary texts, legal texts are deeply nested and interlinked: they require a specific approach, but their systematic structure also facilitates the extraction of numeric and categorical data, such as dates or legal domains and entities. We shall give an overview of a series of procedures necessary for the transformation of these historical and legal documents from print versions into a structured numeric format, based on the international Akoma Ntoso XML schema. The workshop shall introduce the xQuery and R languages for the development and analysis of XML data. We shall illustrate notably the use of visual approaches in these analyses. Practical examples shall be provided: the dataset can be downloaded and the participants shall be able to test scripts. We shall finally discuss further perspectives of the use of legal data for the detection of historical events and shifts in societal paradigms.

Keywords: digital history, Akoma Ntoso, legal XML, xPath, xQuery, R.

Requirements: To take full advantage of the workshop, participants should have a computer per person, with an Internet connection. On each computer, BaseX should be installed prior to the workshop and, if possible, also R and RStudio. It is also recommended to download the dataset RO-1948-1998.zip prior to the workshop. Useful links:

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