Ajam Media Collective

We aim to re-imagine publishing, telling new stories of West Asia and its diasporas through essays and emerging research.

Launched in 2011, Ajam Media Collective is an online forum designed to highlight representations of West Asia within Western media.

Ajam started as a blog for graduate students with an interest in West Asia. This is the collective effort of five people from different fields, ranging from academia to filmmaking, music and journalism. By employing diverse skills and knowledge, they provide greater access to the more complex and nuanced discussions and debates within in the academy in the region, which they refer to as Ajamistan. The underlining premise is that this region, while part of the Middle East, is under-represented in Western and online media.

Ajam in Arabic means ‘otherness’ and for this reason the term ‘Ajamistan’ was coined to refer to a geographical area from Turkey in the West and to Iran, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Afghanistan and South Asia in the East. A common thread among these countries is the influence of Persianate culture and heritage present during the Ottoman, Safavid and Mughal eras until the 18th to 19th centuries. In addition, since Persian was the language of culture and literature, these countries were influenced and continue to reflect various elements of Persianate culture.

 

“Ajam Media Collective is committed to uniting authors from various backgrounds and disciplines to promote diverse critical views on culture, politics, and society, emphasizing the region’s importance as a thriving cultural center whose multiple realities are too often obscured by the popular Western and global media.”

 

Therefore, this online platform focusses on covering cultural and society related matters in this region, as well as shedding light on contemporary and historical issues via informed analysis, by offering semi-scholarly resources from academics, activists and student input. Ajam also provides access to contemporary research and debates in various topics, such as, Urban Geography, Cinema, Gender Studies, literature, history and others.

Moreover, in order to offer a holistic insight and to cover the respective topics comprehensively, a diverse range of formats are used to present various topics and insights, such as podcasts, longer essays of film analysis, photo essays, blog articles and music. This vast range of information can be accessed by region as well.

Iran and Persian Studies Dissertation

Iran and Persian Studies @ Dissertation Reviews, highlight the latest researches that have been done in the form of doctoral dissertation which are not published yet from all across the world in the field of Iranian and Persian studies.

Dissertation Reviews, provides over 1000 overviews of recently defended but unpublished doctoral dissertation in Humanities and Social Sciences. The goal is to help readers have access to and stay informed about the latest research that has been done in a wide variety of topics.

Dissertation Reviews consists of advisory board of reviewers form universities from all over the world, which contribute reviews to doctoral dissertation in various topics of Iran and Persian Studies, Islamic Studies, South Asian Studies, Southeast Asian Studies and etc.

“Each review provides a summary of the author’s main arguments, the historiographic genealogy in which the author operates, and the main source bases for his or her research. The reviews are also anticipatory, making educated assessments of how the research will advance or challenge our understanding of major issues in the field when it is revised and published in the future.”

This platform provides a great support for academic community not only by publishing non-critical reviews of the recently defended dissertation, but also authors often receive private critical reviews which helps them revising their work before publishing their books.

Dissertation Reviews is a great resource to follow the most recent research topics from all corner of the world. It can be find on social media via: Facebook and Twitter

 

 

Persian Language Textbooks @Islamic Studies Library, McGill University

In this post, two Persian language textbooks will be introduced, they both can be accessed at Islamic Studies Library of McGill.

Persian In Use is an elementary Persian language and culture textbook for learners at college level and is written by Anousha Sedighi and published at Leiden University press.

This book is designed thematically and offers 10 lessons starting with Alphabet and sound system, covering both written and spoken varieties. Persian In Use offers more than 1200 words and phrases covering highly in use slang, proverbs and idioms; as well as simple explanations of the grammatical features. The daily interactive dialogues provided in this book, help students to learn about contemporary Persian language usage. Literary texts, poems plays, film scripts, and pop songs are offered along with cultural notes. Persian In Use’s goal is to teach and improve learner’s communication skills therefore it provides all four skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. Students can access to audio materials from companion website: https://sites.google.com/a/pdx.edu/persian-in-use/Audio-Files/lesson-1.

Persian In Use can be found on the library catalogue from here.

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The Routledge Persian course: Farsi Shirin Ast is a Persian language textbook in two part of  (Introductory and Intermediate) and is written by Pouneh Shabani Jadidi and Dominic Prviz Brookshaw. This book is designed mainly for teaching Persian language at university level, though it is a user-friendly language book.

Teaching approach of the book is focused on communicative competence as oppose to the traditional approach of focusing on development of grammatical competence in learning a second language. To achieve its goal the book offers 15 lessons. Each starts with a question as a title followed by new vocabulary and a dialogue (Introductory level) or a text (Intermediate level). Grammatical points are explained and some exercises are offered at the end of each lesson. Audio materials are accessible through companion website Introductory, Intermediate.

Islamic Studies Library of McGill owns these books and they can be found on the catalogue from here for the Introductory and here for the intermediate one.

Chester Beatty Digital Collections

Chester Beatty Digital Collections gives access to part of remarkable treasures that are housed at Chester Beatty library In Ireland. This collection is a database of digitized artworks and manuscripts from different part of the world and includes Persian, Islamic, Turkish and Arabic collection.  These invaluable collections of manuscripts was gathered by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968) one of the greatest collector of the twentieth century and a friend to Ireland.

Opening folio from a Qur’an, illuminated by Muhammad ibn Aybak in Baghdad. This full-page illumination marks the beginning of a superb Qur’an volume produced in Baghdad. It is from a thirty-volume set, now dispersed in international collections or lost. Four of the known volumes contain the signature of the renowned illuminator Muhammad ibn Aybak ibn `Abdullah, who also recorded the date and that he was working “in the City of Peace, Baghdad”. From these inscriptions, Ibn Aybak’s work schedule becomes clear: he completed volume two in April 1303, ten in February 1305, and thirteen in October 1305, producing an illuminated volume approximately every three months. Folio from a Qur’an, colours and gold on paper, illuminated frontispiece panel with geometric design of central radiating star with quarter-stars repeated in the four corners, and hasp ornament on right margin, right half of a double-page composition, illumination by Muhammad ibn Aybak, opening folio from volume 25 of a 30-volume Qur’an (volume 25 codex is in Tehran Iran Bastan Museum, 3350),

Sir Alfred Chester Beatty was a young mining engineer in New York with huge interest in collecting European, Persian manuscripts, Chinese snuff bottles and Japanese netsuke. It was in 1914 and during a family trip to Egypt that the Islamic manuscript fascinated him so he expanded his collection to include rare books, richly illustrated material, fine bindings and calligraphy. Beatty’s exceptional collection developed over his life time, it comprises of remarkable Islamic, East Asian and biblical manuscripts, important Persian, Turkish, Armenian and Western European holdings as well as Burmese, Thai and Nepalese manuscripts, and is housed in the grounds of Dublin Castle.

Manuchihr pursuing his father’s murderer Tur, from the Book of Kings (Shahnama) by Firdausi

“The Chester Beatty Library is a public charitable trust established under the will of the late Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, who left his Collections in the care of a Trust for the benefit of the Irish people.”

The Beatty’s collection is a great resource for scholars and researchers as well as a cultural attraction for visitors from Ireland and from all around the world, part of which is available online through digital collection.

In 2017, the Chester Beatty started digitizing its collection with the help of digital photographers and a team of museum experts. Each item of this collection has a catalogue record and an informative description to the item. The digital collection is a searchable database; however, it is a growing database therefore it is useful to visit it from time to time.

Two horsemen aiming their lances, from Manual on the Arts of Horsemanship (Nihayat al-su’l wa al-umniya fi ta‘allum ‘amal al-furusiyya) by al-Aqsara’i

Mizan

The Mizan project is dedicated to promoting and supporting public scholarship and research on Muslim societies with focus on topics that are important to Muslims across the globe. The project’s intent is to provide academic resources and insights to the “informed public” on subjects of contemporary relevance to the Islamic world, from an unbiased, fair and academic perspective.

The Mizan digital initiative attempts to connect emerging Islamic global civilizations, histories, texts and cultural expressions of Muslim identities with a contemporary audience. In doing so, Mizan connects the past and the future by featuring visual culture, law, classical literature and dialogues with the popular culture of modern Muslim societies. Various Mizan projects explore the history of Muslim societies and Islamic cultures while seeking to remain neutral, that is, with no preference for any sectarian perspective or to any particular orthodoxy or orthopraxy.

Part of this project’s mission is to provide an open access, bi-annual journal featuring scholarly and peer reviewed articles, called the “Journal for the Study of Muslim Societies and Civilizations”. This journal sheds light on various aspects of the Islamic world in a thematic fashion and with its first issue in 2016.

Moreover, short features are published every two weeks on the Mizan project’s website targeting more diverse audiences from the public to scholars and researchers in various fields of Islamic Studies. Stories and various aspects of popular culture in the Islamic World are explored in the Pop section of the site covering Video & Film, Graphic Arts, Music and performances and Politics, Fashion & Identity.

The Mizan project is able to provide full and free access to all its publications due to the support of the ILEX Foundation. An interactive platform offers public engagement via a dynamic annotation tool from which to record comments or questions.

“Rusted Radishes: Beirut literary and art journal”

Beirut literary and art journal “Rusted Radishes”  founded in 2012, and is housed in the American University of Beirut’s English Department. RR is aiming to create a space for writers whether stablished or emerging with a connection to Lebanon. In the past seven years since it was born, RR has published “diverse work from local artists and writers, bordering countries, the diaspora, and beyond”. This journal is an interdisciplinary work, which is edited and designed by a staff of faculty, students, and alum from both the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and Department of Architecture and Design.

As the journal evolved, it extended its submissions to writers, artist, poets, etc. from Middle East and North Africa, with the hope to connect beyond the geographical borders. Rusted Radishes published work from Pakistan, Egypt, Tunisia, local translations of Norwegian, French, and Syrian writers. However, Beirut’s culture, history and influence remained always the principal factor at the center of this diverse unity.

“You will find elements of the natural world on the pages of this issue: cats, horses, stone, redwoods, birds, woodpeckers, ladybugs, the sea, whales, plants, and planets. They are interwoven between themes of belonging, illness, memory, gender, exile, lust, relationships. They criss-cross into each other fluidly, seamlessly, past the expected. Art, like nature, does what it wants.”

 

This journal presents various types of literary and art works including poetry, drama, prose, translations, artwork, comics and interviews. Although Rusted Radishes is a print journal but gives access to their recent issues.

Rusted Radishes can be find on social media via: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Hazine blog

Hazine is a guide to finding information and resources for research purposes about Middle East and the Islamic world at large.

“In the Ottoman Empire, the hazine was the treasury, a storehouse in which courtiers found books to read, scribes deposited documents, and clerks stowed away precious objects that arrived from around the empire.”

Hazine as a storehouse of information, provides information about research resources, research centers, archives and libraries from all around the world for scholars who are researching the Middle East and the Islamic countries. Taking into consideration the numerous archives, libraries, research centers and publications, which are spread out all across the globe, it may not be easy for researchers knowing where to start their research. Therefore, Hazine hopes “researchers will use HAZİNE to acquaint themselves with these collections, large and small, and jump directly into the research.”

Hazine at the moment highlightes more resources and centres containing materials and information resources about Ottoman Empire, for example The National Archives of Japan was introduced as a valuable resource for scholars interested in Japan’s relationships with and growing interest in the Middle East and Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Detail of the Ottoman Ahdname of 1050/1641 (n. 1470, Miscellenea documenti turchi).

Moreover, it lists online archives like: The Venetian State Archives, that made available an important collection of Ottoman documents; Tahrir Documents which is a collection of pamphlets, newsletters, signs, poems, and other texts gathered in and around Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, between March 2011 and May 2012; the last mentioned online archive is Women’s Worlds in Qajar Iran, a digital archive of materials related to the social and cultural history of Iran during the Qajar period.

Two women in European dress from the Olga Davidson Collection

 

Furthermore, this guide provides a list of related archives and libraries according to their geographical location, that can be accessed here Archives and Libraries.

 

 

 

Hazine can be find on social media via : Twitter Facebook

Akkasah, the Center for Photography at New York University Abu Dhabi

Akkasah, the Center for Photography at New York University Abu Dhabi: Houses photographic heritage collections of the Middle East and North Africa. Since it is believed that the rich traditions of documentary, vernacular, and art photography in those regions has not acquired enough attention, Akkasah aims to investigate, document and preserve histories and contemporary practices of photography in those regions.

Akkasah contains 60,000 images, and gathers collection of prints and negatives; also it produces digital versions of collections of individuals or institutions who are willing to share their collections.

Sultan Ahmed Mosque, street seller in the snow (circa 1930, Istanbul, Turkey). Source: Engin Ozendes Collection, Courtesy of Akkasah: Center for Photography at NYU Abu Dhabi.

The database is constitute of three collections of Historical Collections, Contemporary Projects, Photo Albums.

Akkasah turns out to be more than a database of photo collection, it became a successful collaborative project management, representing partnership between faculty and library, here more information ca be found in this regards.

Wall of windows and mihrab with men praying in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey Source: Engin Ozendes Collection, Courtesy of Akkasah: Center for Photography at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Furthermore, Akkasah through conferences, research fellowship program of the NYUAD institute, colloquia, and publications; tries to support research on Middle Eastern and North African photography also on cross-cultural and transnational aspects of it.

Some of Akassah’s activities includes:

  • Producing a series of publications that reflect the scholarly and archival concerns of the center
  • Commissioning new documentary projects on the diverse cultures and communities of the Unite Arab Emirates
  • Establishing a special collection of rare photobooks from around the world
  • Inviting applications for research fellowships in the area of Middle Eastern and North African photography through the Research Fellowships in the Humanities program funded by the NYUAD Institute.

In this article, you can read more the story of Akkasah: The long read: NYUAD’s Centre for Photography unveils a new collection of antique images from the Middle East

View of The Opera District in Dubai. (Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 14 January 2017) Photographer: Michele Nastasi Source: Collection of A Gulf of Images. Center for Photography at NYU Abu Dhabi.

Iranian Oral History Project

The Iranian Oral History Project (IOHP) was launched in fall 1981 at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. In the Autumn of 1980, the director of the project Habib Ladejvardi was encouraged by Edward Keenan, the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, to document Iranian oral history.

Keenan as an historian believed that the immigration of many of Iran’s former leaders to western countries after revolution presented a great opportunity to gather valuable historical data through collecting the personal accounts of those individuals who played an important role in political events or decision making. The focus of the project is to collect information about the political history of Iran between the 1920s and 1970s. Various restrictions on information after the revolution makes this project even more valuable.

The aim of Iranian Oral History project is to provide:

  • A better picture of the way the Iranian political system actually functioned from the point of view of the actors involved – for example, how decisions regarding foreign and domestic issues were reached and implemented.
  • Circumstances behind major political events and decisions.
  • Additional details regarding the background, character, and career of key political figures of the period.

The IOHP’s goal is to gather first hand accounts of these major historic moments, events and decisions. Therefore, a wide range of leaders from different political parties, groups, and institutions, including foreigners who were involved or somehow had an impact in Iran’s political events at the time were interviewed. Interviews were conducted in Paris, Washington D.C., Cambridge, Austria, Switzerland and some other cities around the world. In addition, some politicians who still had an official role in Iran at the time, participated in the interviews while travelling to other countries.

896 items are available in this collection that can be browsed and searched by subject, interviewee, language, ….furthermore a comprehensive background on the project and detailed methodology used on gathering the information and interviews structure is accessible from here.

Basagic Collection of Islamic Manuscripts

The Bašagic collection is a unique assembly of Bosnian and Muslim literary heritage representing Islamic manuscripts collected by Safvet Beg Bašagić – a Bosnian collector, journalist, poet, and bibliographer. Drawn from the holdings of the University library in Bratislava, these items are rare sources of world Islamic culture and offer the researcher access to a comprehensively documented history of Bosnia’s written literature in the 16th to 19th century.

دلائل الخيرات وشوارق الانوار في ذكر الصلاة على النبي المختار

http://retrobib.ulib.sk/Basagic/Normal/0395.jpg

 

This rich selection of Islamic manuscripts contain literary works (prose, poetry), scientific works (Islamic theology, law, history, philosophy, Koran sciences, traditions, Islamic mysticism), and works of various Bosnian Muslim scholars composed in Arabic, Turkish, and Persian. The uniqueness of the collection is highlighted by rare Serbian and Croatian texts written in the Arabic script. Moreover, the Bašagic collection covers the history of Bosnia under the Turkish state administration and provides a picture of the religious situation in Bosnia between the 16th to 19th centuries. Aside from their historic value, these manuscripts shed light on the Art of Islamic book making, calligraphy, illustration and miniatures.

 

After the fire at the National Library in Sarajevo in 1992, which destroyed valuable collections of Islamic documents, the Bašagic collection now preserves rare documents about Bosnian Muslim literature. This unique collection is recognised and included on UNESCO’s documentary heritage list.

 

 

The collection contains 284 volumes of manuscripts including 589 individual works: 393 Arabic, 117 Turkish and 88 Persian.

 

 

حاشية على شرح العقائد العضدية

This collection can be browsed or searched by title and item description is available for each document.