DB:CCC: Diamonds in Borneo, Commodities as Concepts in Context

The intensified circulation of people, commodities and ideas is one of the characteristics of a globalizing world. If we want to understand the causes and consequences of these circulations, we have to know which commodities circulated when and where and who circulate them.

Principal investigator
  • Karin Hofmeester
A diamond quarry at Lasson. From: Schwaner, C.A.L.M (1853), Beschrijving van het stroomgebied van den Barito en reizen langs eenige voorname rivieren van het zuid-oostelijk gedeelte van dat eiland, Volume 1., P.N. van Kampen, Amsterdam.

Our project uses diamonds as a pilot, more specifically diamonds in Borneo, so far a true blind spot in our knowledge on the global diamond commodity chain. We know little on where diamonds were found, who the miners and traders were and if there was really an ‘age-old’ diamond polishing industry as is sometimes suggested. To answer these questions, we developed a workflow that enables us to query the journal corpus of Delpher in an efficient and elaborate way that can also be used for research on other commodities.

The DB:CCC workflow.
The DB:CCC workflow.

Following this workflow, we used the 1908 Geillustreerde encyclopaedie der diamantnijverheid as a starting point for our concept list. The text is converted into structured data and a Gold Standard version of the text is created with TICCL. The concept list is enriched with synonyms and historical variant spellings (DiaMaNT); historical place names on Borneo and external Linked Data Sources. Adapted versions of enhanced scripts made for the CLARIAH project Serpens are used to query the journal corpus of Delpher.


Karin Hofmeester
Karin Hofmeester

Research Director, International Institute of Social History