Júlia Perczel Wins Best Dissertation Award

September 6, 2022

The Department of Network and Data Science would like to extend its warmest congratulations to Júlia Perczel, who received the Best Dissertation Award in AY 2021/2022 for her doctoral dissertation titled, “Understanding the Transforming Power-Dynamics in the Global Art Field by Bringing Together Territorial and Social Interaction-Based Approaches” (supervisor: Balázs Vedres). Júlia earned her MA degree in Art History and Social and Organizational Psychology at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest. During her MA studies, Júlia became interested in integrating qualitative and quantitative methodology as well as incorporating big data analysis while trying to better understand cultural production in the contemporary art world. In her PhD research at CEU, she focused on understanding the ways underlying network structure, positions, and core-periphery power-relations influence the ways of incorporation of CEE artists into core art collections and global art canon.

The annual Best Dissertation Awards at CEU are intended to recognize important scholarly contributions by graduate students from one of the university's doctoral programs. Dissertations from any discipline that are based on significant original research, raise thought-provoking questions in the field, and open new perspectives are recognized. The University Doctoral Committee aims to reward imaginative research that takes an innovative approach in terms of sources, methodology, and/or research questions.

Congratulations, Juli!

Abstract of the thesis:

The global art field has become both more differentiated in structure and more integrated in functioning, and it also shows simultaneously signs of decentralization and centralization. While research has been predominantly focusing on either the shifting landscape of the global territorial realm or the dynamics of the social interaction-based emergent global networks, we lack sufficient understanding of the exact mechanisms that drive these seemingly contradictory trends. This thesis builds on insight from Network Science, sociology of art and art history to integrate the territorial and social interaction-based lines of research while investigating the global art field. The thesis starts with a theoretical chapter comparing the territorial and social interaction-based approaches towards modeling the global art field. Following this, over three empirical chapters I bring together the two perspectives in distinct research designs. First, applying a statistical filtering-based network method, I depict the global institutional structure into which a museum collection is embedded demonstrating that while topological space is argued to have compressed the topographical in the new global realm, the representation that core museum collections give on peripheral regions is predominantly anchored in the representation of other institutions in the territorial core. Next, I turn towards the strategy core museums have developed to cope with the tension deriving from the dual push to expand the global scope of their collection and to find the financial means of doing so. I show that at the heart of the museums’ strategy lies the construction of a supra-territorial elite network, which brings together the local elite of the peripheries and enables them to broker social, cultural and economic capital to the core museums in a sustainable way. Finally, I directly test the assumption that global institutional networks function in relative autonomy from the global territorial realm. I introduce a novel structural position in the institutional network that is based on refracting the effect that the centrality of a location in the territorial power-structure imposes on the institutions on it. I test the functioning of this novel position through the effect it imposes on artists’ likelihood of consecration in the art field. I demonstrate that considering the main assumptions of both the territorial and the social interaction-based approaches, this novel predictor is robustly the strongest among all. This novel position not only enables a model of the global art field where positions marking decentralization and centralization jointly function, but it also shows a concrete novel way in which the territorial and the social interaction-based levels jointly produce a novel spatial dimension of the contemporary global realm. Together these results contribute to the understanding of exact ways in which dynamics towards centralization and decentralization are interconnected in the functioning of the contemporary global art field.