Creating Biographical Networks from Chinese and English Wikipedia


  • Baptiste Blouin Aix-Marseille University
  • Pierre Magistry Aix-Marseille University
  • Nora Van den Bosch Aix-Marseille University



Wikipedia, Biography, Deep Learning, Wikidata, BERT, NER


With the rise of digital humanities, historians explore how to intellectually engage with textual sources given the available computational tools of today. The ENP-China project employs Natural Language Processing methods to tap into sources of unprecedented scale with the goal to study the transformation of elites in Modern China (1830–1949). One of the subprojects is extracting various kinds of data from biographies and, for that, we created a large corpus of biographies automatically collected from the Chinese and English Wikipedia. The dataset contains 228,144 biographical articles from the offline Chinese Wikipedia copy and is supplemented with 110,713 English biographies that are linked to a Chinese page. We also enriched this bilingual corpus with metadata that records every mentioned person, organization, geopolitical entity and location per Wikipedia biography and links the names to their counterpart in the other language. This data structure allows the researcher to analyze the relationships between biographies via shared contents and compare networks in different language settings.  In this paper we will describe our methodology for building this new dataset. The first step was to use automatic text classification for extracting Chinese biographies. We trained a binary classifier to detect biographies on manually classified examples and used a subset of unseen texts to assess its accuracy. The second step used Named Entity Recognition to generate metadata and extract relations from the links in Wikipedia. Furthermore, we will delve into the method for building networks from this dataset. We argue that depending on the specific research question, different networks may be built. Using the metadata, researchers can create various kinds of networks to suit their needs. On top of releasing this dataset as an enriched bilingual corpus, we will provide an online interface to query and explore it. Our interface benefits from the bipartite graph structure (it can be seen as a network of documents and entities) and applies the same exploration and clustering strategy as in Cillex.




How to Cite

Blouin, B., Magistry, P. and Van den Bosch, N. (2021) “Creating Biographical Networks from Chinese and English Wikipedia”, Journal of Historical Network Research. Luxembourg, 5(1). doi: 10.25517/jhnr.v5i1.120.