Lekh: an online review of books on South Asia

Launched in 2017, Lekh is a blog publishing reviews of books focusing on contemporary South Asia co-edited by Karthik Nachiappan (PhD in South Asian Studies, King’s College London) and Hassan Javid (PhD in Sociology, London School of Economics & Political Science).

Editors felt the need for such a platform because of the “intellectual insularity” resulting from the dispersion of the scholarship on South Asia “across several fields and disciplines – history, law, political science, international relations, public policy, sociology, anthropology, and economics.” Lekh aimed at becoming a place where scholars and litterateurs working in the field of South Asian Studies could share  scholarship and exchange with peers.

Unfortunately, Lekh published very few book reviews in two years, never started the announced podcast, and seems to be struggling to generate interest and engagement from other scholars. That said, published book reviews are lengthy, well written and documented by recognized South Asian Studies scholars. For this reason, this blog remains an valuable initiative deserving South Asian Studies’ specialists’ attention.

If you are interested in submitting book reviews, you can refer to the guidelines, and if you would like to be advised of Lekh‘s developments, you can follow them on twitter , subscribe to their RSS feed, or register to receive email notifications.

 

Arabian Gulf Digital Archive

The Arabian Gulf Digital Archive (“AGDA”) is an online archive that showcases historical and cultural materials from the Arabian Gulf. The contents span two centuries and offer an insight into the past with some material previously unseen by the general public.

The National Archives of the United Arab Emirates (“NA”) collects documents of special historical value to the UAE, Gulf Cooperation Council states and the Arabian Peninsula, both from within the UAE and from abroad. The original documents often exist in archives not located within the Gulf region, making access difficult for those who don’t know where to look. AGDA presents electronic copies of these records along with tools to search, tag and download them.

AGDA contains, among other things, letters, memos, transcripts, photos and official correspondence from leaders and governments that shaped the events of their time.

AGDA is open and free to view and use by anyone. It makes primary source material, with descriptions in both Arabic and English, available to students, scholars, researchers and any interested members of the public.

  • It holds easy-to–use search filters, each with its own extensive list of additional search terms
  • It enables additional search functionality based on a selected date range
  • All search results can be downloaded, shared, bookmarked with any comments saved.

 

 

  • Results pages can be viewed as a single or multiple images, or as text and in various viewing formats
  • It is designed to aid accessibility for all users with tools to manipulate size, color and positioning of images and text
  • It is simple and intuitive functionality. It is also optimized using external search engines

 

 

Tips for Searching

  •     Use the keywords most relevant to your search, e.g. United Arab Emirates
  •     Use quotation marks to search for exact phrases, e.g. “United Arab Emirates”
  •     You can perform wildcard searches by using an asterisk ‘*’ (e.g. tele* will match documents containing telegram, telephone and telegraphic).
  •     Boolean operators: “united OR union AND arab emirates”
  •     Searches in English or Arabic will deliver identical results regardless of the language of the interface.

The Arabian Gulf Digital Archive website, “The Site” is wholly protected by copyright and is the property of the National Archives of the United Arab Emirates. To learn more, click here.

 

Digital collection @ National Library and Archive of Iran

National library and Archive of Iran (NLAI) is located in Tehran and was launched officially in 1937 but its collection dates back 150 years.

The present National Library of Iran houses many different collections from older libraries, including many rare and valuable manuscripts such as large numbers of manuscripts, old printed books, old itineraries from European tourists, documents, rare periodicals and materials in non-print forms.

The library is an educational, research, and service institution, aiming to acquire, organize and disseminate information published or produced in Iran or in the fields of Iranology and Islamic study in other countries. NLAI provides access to part of its massive collection through the Digital Collection, which consists of various collections of Manuscripts, lithograph, dissertations, newspapers, photographs, maps, documents and printed books.

Jadaliyya

Jadaliyya is an independent electronic magazine published by the Arab Studies Institute, a not-for-profit organization based in Beirut that produces knowledge on the Arab World .

English Interface

Far from the main-stream media and common perspectives, Jadaliyya offers original insight and critical analysis rooted in local knowledge, scholarship, and advocacy. Jadaliyya is supported by a dedicated team of volunteer contributors among whom a number of well-known academics, journalists, and intellectuals like Sinan Antoon and Bassam Haddad. With a bilingual interface (EnglishArabic), and articles in Arabic, French, English, and Turkish, Jadaliyya aims to reach out to a broad audience located in Europe, North America, and the Middle East.

Arabic interface

Jadaliyya contents can be browsed from the main page by country (Egypt, Palestine, Arabian Peninsula, Syria, Turkey, Maghreb) or by category (Refugees and Migrants, Cities, Culture, Law and Conflict, Political Economy, Pedagogy, Reviews, NEWTON, Reports, Media).

Articles can also be searched using the search window next to the categories (top menu), or discovered via the Jad Navigation page featuring “Recent stories”, “Jadaliyya recommends”, and “Arab Uprisings selections”.

“Pages” menu

The Pages menu at the top left corner of pages offers a wealth of information about the journal and its contributors. For questions or further information, you may visit the Contact Us page.

The Royal Library of Denmark: Oriental digitized materials

The Oriental Collection

The Oriental collections in The Royal Library of Denmark comprise manuscripts, block prints, and printed books in languages of Asia and North Africa. A total of 5.000 items  from the 10th century forward. The collections are acquired for research in language, religion, and culture in its widest sense, including history.

Digital editions from the Oriental Collections were chosen for their beauty, rarity, calligraphy, bindings etc.

These materials are made available online and are subdivided into the following groups:

Digitized Arabic materials
  • Qur’an and other religious texts
  • Shafi’i fiqh
  • Shi’a works
  • Linguistics
  • Literature
  • History
  • Medicine and natural science
  • Magic
  • Printed books: literature

الاصول – Geometry

تصوير صور الكواكب – Astronomy

Digitized Persian materials
  • Manuscripts
  • Avesta and Pahlavi
  • Printed books

Rivayat – Ceremonial rites

Digitization of Urdu manuscripts
  • Narrative work in rhyming couplets
  • Qissai Benazir aur Badremunir or Sihr al-bayan by Mīr Ghūlam Hasan Dihlī [1727-1786 CE] (Copy from 1829 with illustrations)

Narrative work in rhyming couplets قصه بى نظير و بدر منير

Japanese manuscripts
Tibetan manuscripts
Mongolian manuscripts
Indian manuscripts
Sinhalese manuscripts
Oriental visual art

 

Availability
The manuscripts can be made available at Reading Room West, after previous arrangement (e-mail: kontaktbiblioteket@kb.dk)

Copies, photographs etc.
Requests for slides, scans and other types of reproductions should be directed to The Photographic Studio. Permission to reproduce is normally given, provided that it is for a non-commercial purpose and The Royal Library is duly credited.

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.

A quick guide to transliterating Arabic, Persian or Urdu on your computer

Scholars in the West relying on sources in languages written in Arabic script (such as Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish or Urdu) often need -if only to search the library catalogues- to be able to write the Arabic script in a transliterated or romanized form. This post offers a quick guide to transliterating or romanizing languages written in Arabic script. Transliteration and romanization are used interchangeably to designate the action of writing the Arabic characters in Latin characters.

1. Transliteration systems

Transliteration and romanization system are based on adding diacritic marks to Latin characters to render letters and sounds that don’t exist in English. Numerous transliteration standards are available (ALA-LC, ISO, IJMES for example) which might be confusing, but the most important is to be consistent once you have chosen a system. It is important to note as well that each language -even if written in Arabic script- will have a proper transliteration system. Most North American libraries use the ALA-LC (Library of Congress) romanization tables whereas a number of European libraries use the ISO 233 transliteration standard. Knowing the differences between ALA-LC and ISO 233 will help search library catalogues much more efficiently. Last, some journals or publishers have their own transliteration system which they require authors to use: knowing which standard is used in a specific publication will often make using it much easier.

2. Diacritic marks

The main challenge with romanization is the consistent encoding of letters with diacritic marks. Using a persistent encoding standard will ensure the marked letters display properly regardless of the document format, type of device, or exploitation system you are working on. Inconsistent encoding will result in alterations of the text where letters turn into different signs, often illegible.

3. Encoding standard

The computing standard for consistent encoding of non-Latin scripts is the UNICODE TRANSFORMATION FORMAT (UTF). Developed in the early 1990s by a not-for-profit consortium made of large computing companies (Adobe, Apple, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle) and governmental agencies, UNICODE is regularly amended to include more characters. At present, it allows to write 150 different scripts among which Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, Urdu and  their romanized forms. Different UTF standards are available, but the most commonly used are UTF-8 (in particular for HTML web documents) and UTF-16 (especially for text documents in both Windows and mac OS environments).

4. Typefaces (fonts)

In order to encode letters in UTF, you need to use one of the rare typefaces that support UNICODE characters such as Arial Unicode MS on PCs, and either Times New Roman, Helvetica or Lucida Grande on mac. If not among the default typefaces available on your computer, these fonts can easily be downloaded for free from the internet.

5. Transliterated letters input

Once you have a typeface compatible with UNICODE, you need a tool allowing the input of characters and diacritic marks. Because regular keyboards layout cannot accommodate key combinations for all characters with diacritics, alternative methods were developed by operating systems: the Microsoft Windows Character Map and the Extended Accent Codes for Mac will give you access to the entire repertoire of UNICODE characters.

6. Additional information

The Arabic Macintosh website is a very valuable resource for mac users interested in transliterating the Arabic script. The Digital Orientalist dedicated a lengthy post to keyboard layouts in both mac OS and Windows environments.

The Arab Image Foundation

The Arab Image Foundation’s evolving collection contains more than 500,000 photographic objects. The work of over 250 amateur photographers and 700 professional photographers and studios, the objects date from the 1860s to the present day, and span 50 countries

Objects in the AIF collection reflect a range of genres and styles – including documentary, reportage, industrial photography, fashion photography, etc.

In 2016, the AIF embarked on a major drive to digitize its collection, which is housed in Beirut. Since then, 28,000 photographs from its collection have been digitized.

The new AIF website launched in May 2019 with the support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Beirut, the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC) and The Ford Foundation.

  • Images of collection items (25,000 so far) are now available to access and use.
  • All website content is available to view without registering for an account. In the near future, users will be able to register to download or bookmark images.
  • The website’s fresh, user-friendly interface and improved search function.
  • An interactive online catalogue offering image tagging and commenting, and display options.
  • A lab for digital experimentation and online residencies.

AIF Collection.

Tour the Lab

Explore projects, events and more.

Engage with the AIF

  1. Guided visits of the AIF
  2. Resources, The AIF Library
  3. Internships & Volunteering
  4. Consultancy
  5. Residencies at the Arab Image Foundation

Image Use Guidelines

Image policy covers image use, privacy rights, crediting and more.

The Foundation hopes to generate critical thinking about photographic, artistic and archival practices, promoting its collection as a rich resource for research, reflection and the creation of new works, forms and ideas.

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