Culture & History Digital Journal, Vol 7, No 2 (2018)

Jurisdictional Culture and Memory Digitization of the “Government of Justice.” Data Modeling and Digital Approach for the Legal History of Ibero-America

Víctor Gayol
Centro de Estudios Históricos de El Colegio de Michoacán, Mexico

Jairo Antonio Melo Flórez
Centro de Estudios Históricos de El Colegio de Michoacán, Mexico


Can a machine retrieve the cultural meaning from a corpus of sources? This article addresses the scope and restrictions that digitization, transcription, and data modeling represents for machine-mediated readings of legal, historical records, particularly those derived from the cultural context of Hispanic empire. It compares the dichotomy between the ambiguous language of ancient regime legal texts and the unambiguity required by machinereadable files. Besides, is problematize the corporal reading and the strategy of distant-reading and visualizations as a model for interpretation of vast bulk of textual data. We propose a strategy for segmentation and data modelling for the approach the textual logic of ancient regime legal records based on their hierarchization, interrelation with nonjudiciary sources (theological, historical, philosophical, etc.), its internal segmentation, the non-linear logic of the normative, and the authoritative requirements of compilations and relevant legal works. Its conclude that the advantages of automation are attached to the ability to manipulate files without distorting the original meaning of the texts, therefore, it proposes the necessity to develop standardized vocabularies that help to avoid anachronistic approaches regarding Modern Age legal sources.


Digital History; Distant reading; Web semantic; Spanish colonial law; Critical legal history; Judiciary tradition; Digitization

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