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.

The Quranic Arabic Corpus

Quranic Arabic Corpus is an annotated linguistic resource which shows the Arabic grammar, syntax and morphology for each word in the Holy Quran.

This project contributes to the research of the Quran by applying natural language computing technology to analyze the Arabic text of each verse.The website offers:

  • Word by Word Quran:  maps out the syntax of the entire Quran, with analysis and translation

  • Quran Dictionary: Verb Concordance – Lemma Frequency – Morphological Search

  • English Translation: shows seven parallel translations in English: Sahih International, Pickthall, Yusuf Ali, Shakir, Muhammad Sarwar, Mohsin Khan and Arberry

  • Syntactic Treebank: Dependency Graphs – Grammar (إعراب)

  • Ontology of Concepts: uses knowledge representation to define the key concepts in the Quran, and shows the relationships between these concepts using predicate logic.

The graph is a network of 300 linked concepts with 350 relations.

    

 

 

 

 

  • Quranic Grammar: The grammar section of the website provides a set of guidelines for annotators who wish to contribute to the project.

This ambitious project was created by Kais Dukes who decided to apply his knowledge of computing to the Quran. Duke, a British computer scientist and software developer at the School of Computing, University of Leeds, is credited with the development of the Quranic Arabic Corpus and JQuranTree.

In January 2010, The Muslim Post published and interview with Duke; when he was asked about other ventures and projects, he says:

“When I started out this project, I didn’t realise how much demand there would be for an online Qur’an study tool, especially for learning the Arabic language and grammar in detail. I think now a related project we want to do is a simple Qur’an study website for beginners. The current website is aimed at medium-level Qur’an and Arabic researchers, but something from the very beginning, like the ABC of Qur’anic Arabic would a very useful related project to work, especially if we continue what we have been doing so far, and make all the information available online for free, for the benefit of all to use regardless of their backgrounds or personal opinions.”

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.

 

Persuasive Maps: P.J. Mode Collection

Persuasive Maps is a collection of more than 800 maps collected by P.J. Mode housed at Cornell University library. This collection holds maps dating from the 1800s to the present day and covers various geographical areas of the world.

….While this map provides a reasonably accurate view of the world as known in 1681, it was intended primarily for religious education, bound (folded) into copies of English-language bibles and other religious works of the 17th and early 18th centuries (Shirley 1983, #457). The seven days of creation are illustrated in the panels at the top of the map. Below are the expulsion from Paradise, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, God speaking to Moses, the Ten Commandments, the Crucifixion and the Ascension. The voice of God is represented by Hebrew characters…The map is centered on Eden.

Persuasive Cartography seeks to communicate more than geographical information and intends to influence opinion or to send a particular message. Since maps represent a subject viewpoint, cartographers needed to decide what information to include or exclude.

Maps sit somewhere on the spectrum between science and art and subjectivity and objectivity. The maps of this collated collection are chosen because they communicate messages beyond geographical information. For instance, they illustrate a whole range of human concerns from religious, political, military, commercial, moral and social.

On May 3, 2016 P.J. Mode in a presentation to The Grolier Club of New York and New York Society, gave an interesting talk entitled “Deconstructing Persuasive Cartography”, in which he elaborated on the concept and idea of Persuasive maps and discussed different examples of maps from his collection. Link to the video

 

…Lady Liberty, wearing a cape labeled “Votes for Women,” stands astride the states (colored white) that had adopted suffrage. She holds aloft her torch, bringing “enlightenment” to women in those states still in the dark. The faces of these women are turned up to the light, and some reach out in hope. (Many have fashionably short hair and hats, reflecting the middle and upper class core of the suffrage movement. Dando 2010, 224)….

Along with developments in technology and communications, the methodology of persuasive cartography has also developed. “The collection reflects a variety of persuasive tools: allegorical, satirical and pictorial mapping; selective inclusion or exclusion; unusual use of projections, color, graphics and text; and intentional deception.”

The collection can be searched or browsed by subject, posted date or the entire collection. Each item provides more information about the item such as title, subject, date, creator, size/extent, and collector’s note. The collector’s note are the result of P.J. Mode research and analysis.

 

 

Muslim Heritage: Discover the golden age of Muslim civilization

Muslim Heritage is a web portal launched by the “Foundation for Science and Technology and civilisation” (FSTC) in 2002. This is one of its major projects in the study of Muslim heritage with the purpose of advancing human civilization. It is an online education community of Muslims and non-Muslims, which aims to raise awareness on the relevance and importance of Muslim heritage. The portal contains thousands of peer reviewed articles, numerous reports and essays, as well as news on Muslim heritage related topics and events.

The portal is well organized and materials are classified based on main subjects (i.e. Science, environment, culture and people, etc.) and then sub-classified (i.e. Astronomy, chemistry, Medicine, Architecture, Art, Agriculture, Geography, etc.). Moreover the searching features helps to retrieve information in different formats faster and easier.

The idea for the founding of the FSTC was initiated by a professor of Mechanical engineering at the University of Manchester, with the hope to establish an organization to research inventions and the cultural roots of early discoveries that originated in non-western world and which still affect our world. This organization is a non-political, non-sectarian and non-religious in approach and its mission is stated as:

  • To foster an accurate understanding of the thousand years of exceptional advances in science, technology, medicine and the arts made by men and women within the Muslim World from the 7th century onwards.
  • To generate social cohesion, cultural awareness and respect through the exploration of Muslim and World heritage and how it is woven into our global society and civilization so that we all share and benefit from this heritage.
  • To promote science and learning as an alternative to negative or extremist behavior.

This academic channel aims to discover and shed light on Muslim civilizations and heritage and therefore is designed to study most Muslim countries and cultures. The diversity in their approach is reflected by the various gathered resources all made accessible through this portal. For example, the Architecture and Art section covers geographical locations from China to Syria, Turkey and Iran.

  

Muslim Heritage can be find on social media via : Twitter Facebook Email

Qatar Digital Library

Qatar Digital Library (QDL) is a growing repository for over 500,000 historical and cultural records of the Gulf and wider region. The Archives is available online and includes wide range of materials: maps, manuscripts, sound recordings, photographs and much more, complete with contextualized explanatory notes and links, in both English and Arabic.

The QDL was made possible through a Memorandum of Understanding on Partnerships between Qatar Foundation, Qatar National Library and The British National Library. The aim of this partnership is to make a world-class resource freely available for everyone, for general audience and academic researchers.

The site was launched on 27 October 2014. According to Cogapp, an industry-leaders in producing software for online archives and museums who designed and developed the software; the interface is user friendly and it is accessible across multiple devices, including mobiles, tablets and desktops. Everything is shareable on social media. All items can be zoomed to explore incredible details. It also allows the user to conduct a highly filterable search; 150 facet options are available to refine the search. The site and content meet archival standards and accessibility criteria.

The repository also include 147 articles to explore, all grouped under Articles From Our Experts which can be filtered by topic, geographical location and time period. Switching from Arabic to English is possible through the language tab located on top of the page.

“This is going to result in a whole new generation of historians, a boom in the historiography of the Gulf. This is profound; this moment right now is a milestone in the history of the region.”— Dr James Onley, Senior Lecturer in Middle Eastern History, University of Exeter
“Students, scholars – whether here, in the Gulf region or indeed anywhere on the planet – will be able to explore this material, find new learnings from it, make new connections and make new discoveries.”— Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library

 

 

 

 

A Piece of Heart and a Piece of Art: Damascus Room

Damascus Room, Syria, Damascus, 1766-67/ AH 1180, Wood (poplar) with gesso relief, copper and tin leaf, glazes and paint, plaster with stone paste inlays, and multicolored stones; installation (approx) 240 x 180 x 144 in.© Museum Associates/LACMA

The story began in the fall and early winter of 2011-12, when Linda Komaroff, Curator and Department Head at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), decided to pursue an acquisition of a period room from eighteenth-century Damascus, Syria. Komaroff is one of the people who makes LACMA a very unique institution. In Unframed post titled Preserving Small Piece of Damascus, Komaroff describes the new acquisition:

The Damascus Room came to signify more than the unique opportunity to acquire a rare work of art that would become a destination for museum visitors but the very embodiment of what LACMA is as an encyclopedic art museum. Although the room was removed from Syria nearly thirty-five years ago, the notion that we would be helping to preserve a small part of the cultural history of one of the world’s oldest, continuously occupied cities, intensified my interest in bringing the room to Los Angeles so that its story can be told and appreciated in this twenty-first-century city.

The room was dissembled in 1978 from one of the courtyard houses located in the al- Bahsa district, which was later demolished in order to accommodate the growth of the city of Damascus. The room was then exported from Syria to Beirut, Lebanon where it remained in storage for over 30 years. It somehow made its way to a London warehouse where it was found by Komaroff. Although the room was maintained in its original state, some restoration was required and an armature was created to make the room self-supporting so that it could be installed in an already-existing space or reinstalled elsewhere. Komaroff describes the Damascus Room thusly:

Damascus Room, Syria, Damascus, 1766-67/ AH 1180. © Museum Associates/LACMA

It has multicolored inlaid stone floors, painted wood walls, elaborate cupboard doors and storage niches, a spectacular arch with plaster voussoirs decorated with colored inlays that served to divide the room into upper and lower sections separated by a single tall step; and an intricately inlaid stone wall fountain with a carved and painted hood. The painted wood surfaces are embellished with a particular type of relief decoration known in Arabic as al-‘ajami (“meaning non-Arab or foreign”) or as pastiglia in the West.

The restoration work was undertaken in collaboration with Saudi Aramco’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture and with the support provided by the Friends of Heritage Preservation, LACMA. The reassembling of the Damascus Room was a two-year project completed in December 2015. The room was on display at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia from 2016–2018 and will be returned to Los Angeles to tell its story to a new audience.The reconstruction of the Damascus Room has been one of the Linda Komaroff’s curatorial career:

Being in the room is a joy; it exudes a kind of beauty, warmth and comfort, which is in keeping with its original function as a place for welcoming guests. But that joy is tempered by the sadness of the continuing deterioration of daily life in Syria, the diaspora of its citizens, and the destruction of its historic monuments. For now, the room must play one more role as a preserver of memories of Syria, as so beautifully expressed by the Syrian-American hip-hop artist and poet Omar Offendum, whose performance* was recorded in the room.

* Video attribution: www.lacma.org

Doha historical dictionnary of Arabic

The Doha Historical Dictionary of Arabic is developed under the auspices of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, Doha, Qatar. Founded “on the ideal that the social sciences and humanities have an invaluable role to play in Arab societal development”, ther ACRPS produces and publishes both applied and fundamental research, organizes conferences, seminars, and workshops accross the Arab World.

Officially launched in 2012, the Doha Historical Dictionary of Arabic initiative aims at creating a comprehensive Corpus of Arabic,deriving sub-dictionaries from the Historical Dictionary of Arabic, publishing lexicographical research and studies. At the time of our visit, a lot of resources were not yet available to visitors but one can hope the Lexicographer’s Forum will soon be activated, and Lexical Services soon be available.

The website is available in English and Arabic.

Sharia Source

SHARIAsource is a flagship research venture of the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School.

The mission of this programme is organizing information available from all over the world about Islamic law in an accessible and useful manner. SHARIAsource is not a religious organization nor does it advocate any particular group or institution. It concentrates on academic principles and involvement by including diversity of various perspectives, peer-reviewed analysis and free and open exchange of ideas.

SHARIAsource creates a platform of storing Islamic law’s primary sources and it cooperates with various team of editors from all over the globe; moreover it provides the opportunity for people to analyze critically the mentioned sources and it also promotes research in order to shed light on academic as well as public discourse about Islamic law.

Their well-organized and classified portal provides access to cutting-edge content and context regarding Islamic law. Through this portal numerous resources can be browsed by Topics & Themes; Geographic Regions, Empires & Eras; Editors and Contributors and Document Types (ex.: Historical/Contemporary primary sources, Expert Analysis, legal documents, etc.). In addition to providing access to full text documents, the number of available resources associated to each category is presented as well which can be very useful to academics, journalist and policy makers.

Additionally readers who are interested to know about special events and news, their blog provides them with useful information in that regards.

“SHARIAsource was developed with support from the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, and from the Luce and MacArthur Foundations.”

 

Digital Library of the Middle East

DLME is a response to the current threats in the form of destruction, looting and illegal trade to the cultural heritage of the Middle East.

The digital Library of the Middle East aims to federate different types of cultural heritage material consisting of archives, manuscripts, museum objects, media and archeological and intangible heritage collections. The DLME implements international cultural preservation goals by providing accessibility and urging documentation and digitization; contributing to security and sustainability by encouraging inventory creation, cataloguing, documentation and digitization of collections as well as forming a community of interest that seeks collaboration among people, organization and countries who value this heritage; which in returns can help mitigate looting and the illegal resale of heritage materials.

The digital platform of the DLME brings together digital records of accessible artifacts ranging across twelve millennia. It provides metadata for each objects that describes various aspects of the artifact or document, it might include its contested meaning or significance, its history and its provenance when available. This platform is searchable, also the collection is classified based on different criteria such as Language, type, date, creator, medium and etc.The Digital Library of the Middle East is continuously developing and progressing through scholarly inputs, crowd-sourcing and new knowledge discovered through its use.