New Publication on Islamic Digital Humanities

DH-finalcoverWe are pleased to announce the publication of a new edited volume from De Gruyter entitled The Digital Humanities and Islamic & Middle East StudiesMany of the articles in this volume were given as papers at the 2013 conference of the same name, organized by Middle East Studies at Brown University.

Table of Contents
  • Elias Muhanna, Islamic and Middle East Studies and the Digital Turn
  • Travis Zadeh, Uncertainty and the Archive
  • Dagmar Riedel, Of Making Many Copies There is No End: The Digitization of Manuscripts and Printed Books in Arabic Script
  • Chip Rossetti, Al-Kindi on the Kindle: The Library of Arabic Literature and the Challenges of Publishing Bilingual Arabic-English Books
  • Nadia Yaqub, Working with Grassroots Digital Humanities Projects: The Case of the Tall al-Zaʿtar Facebook Groups
  • Maxim Romanov, Toward Abstract Models for Islamic History
  • Alex Brey, Quantifying the Quran
  • Till Grallert, Mapping Ottoman Damascus Through News Reports: A Practical Approach
  • José Haro Peralta and Peter Verkinderen, “Find for Me!”: Building a Context-Based Search Tool Using Python
  • Joel Blecher, Pedagogy and the Digital Humanities: Undergraduate Exploration into the Transmitters of Early Islamic Law
  • Dwight F. Reynolds, From Basmati Rice to the Bani Hilal: Digital Archives and Public Humanities

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)

Comparing Canons: Examining Two Seventeenth-Century Fatawa Collection from the Ottoman Lands

In recent years growing attention has been paid to the circulation of texts and to various textual practices throughout the Islamic world in general and the Ottoman Empire in particular. Most studies, however, were qualitative in nature. My paper seeks to demonstrate the advantages of digital humanities for the study of circulation of manuscripts and the ways in which they were used and consulted. To illustrate the advantages of digital humanities the paper takes as its case study the circulation of legal texts across the Ottoman Empire. More specifically, the case study is based on a comparison of two fatawa collections from the mid seventeenth century that I have digitized for my research: the fatawa collection by the chief imperial mufti, şeyhülislam Minkarizade Efendi (1609-1677 or 8), and the famous Palestinian mufti, Khayr al-Din al-Ramli (1585-1671). By focusing on the special features of each of the fatawa collections, I hope to draw attention to the advantages these databases and the digital humanities more broadly offer for this kind of study on the one hand, and to raise attention to what the databases conceal on the other. Finally, through this case study, the paper intends to discuss how this methodology can be applied to the study of texts and their circulation in other contexts and time periods in Islamic history.

Author: Guy Burak (Bobst Library, New York University)