Making (up) an Archive: What could Writing History Look Like in a Digital Age?

Recent developments in digital humanities pose anew the challenge of sources, concepts, and possibilities for doing history differently. Much of the current debates have been focused on the vices and virtues of the quantity of (in addition to the ease of access to) the archives that digitization has made available to historians; on whether methods of quantitative social research could now be meaningfully employed by historians (and scholars of the humanities more generally). Based on a digital archive project,Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran, started in 2009, this paper will probe the possibilities for doing different kinds of cultural and social history of nineteenth-century Iran, enabled by accessibility of a multi-genre archive. What happens to/in history if we could persistently read textual documents, visual material, objects of everyday life, recorded memories, etc. in relation to and through each other’s meaning-making work?

Author: Afsaneh Najmabadi (Harvard University)

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