Kerning Cultures

“Stories From The Middle East And North Africa, And The Spaces In Between”

Kerning Cultures is a female-led podcast founded in 2015 and is based in UAE. It is the first venture-funded podcast company in the Middle East. This podcast is Hebah Fisher’s idea; she is the co-founder of Kerning Cultures. This podcast formed in response to the lack of mainstream media in the Middle East, that young generation can relate to, also it came to existence aiming to open a new window to this misunderstood parts of the world.

This podcast started as a start-up and with very little help, the first three years Hebah Fisher (co-founder and CEO) and Razan Alzayani (co-founder and former executive producer) of the project, invested all their savings in this project, they worked for their” mission of telling stories of places they call home”. They aim to re-introduce the region to themselves and Middle Eastern audiences, as well as to introduce it to non-Middle Eastern listeners through their stories, stories that anyone even from very far away can relate to. So This podcast is being produced in Arabic and English.   

Usually the image of the Middle East, pictured by the main stream media is biased, one-sided and heavily politicized.

This podcast tries give an image of Middle East and North Africa, beyond the stereotypical characteristic and common generalizations, by covering different topics and telling stories of history, science, culture, current affairs from these regions and Middle East. Each episode somehow unveils the reality of life in the region and aims to give a balanced picture of its people, and their nuanced lived experience.

Various topics are covered in this podcast. for example “Birthplace of the UAE” is about Public Health; “Fight or Flight” tells the story of a kite maker from Afghanistan who immigrated to the US and “Reviving Hamra Street” is about Beirut and its street art.

Or in the episode, “Not Just My Hijab” a two-part series, women with different backgrounds talk about their stories and experiences of wearing Hijab or, discontinuing wearing Hijab and what it means to them. This narrates the lived experience of those women with their voices, which is different from the narrative of an article in a prestigious International journal picturing women wearing Hijab and mostly in relation to religious matter. There are many factors that impact and form people’s lives, belief system, culture and collective memories , though usually these factors are excluded from media narrative, Kerning Cultures is trying to shed light on those factors and various dimension of life in the Middle East.

In addition to its valuable content, Kerning Cultures choice of media, podcast and use of voice, makes a meaningful connection to the region through the old tradition of oral history and story telling.

Kerning Cultures was described by its listener from different corner of the world as: informative, touching, intriguing and a must listen.

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Anwar El-Sadat Digital Archive

Anwar El-Sadat Digital Archive is a collaborative effort between The International School of Information Science (ISIS) and the Special Projects Department at Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

The project compiles all the material pertaining to the late President Anwar El-Sadat in a digital archive documenting an important epoch in the discourse of Egyptian history.

The Archive provides information on the life of late President Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat to historians, politicians, and researchers who are interested in analyzing and studying one of the most important transitional periods in Egyptian history.

The Archive is divided into three main areas and each area is further subdivided

  • El-Sadat’s Life
  • El-Sadat’s Archive
  • Journalistic Perspective

El-SADAT’S LIFE

In this section, one can explore facts and archival materials related to the early life of El-Sadat, his political life, after 23 July Revolution, his presidency, donated collections and his famous quotes. An internal link is made available to El-Sadat’s Museum that is housed in Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

In addition to the above, El-Sadat’s life includes books and articles that he wrote during the revolution and after he became a president.

El-SADAT’S ARCHIVE

This section is divided into six collections:

The speech collection contains 1116 letters, words and text statements by President Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat.

The photo collection and for the first time, this number of rare El-Sadat related are displayed on the Internet, close to 20,000 photos

The video collection contains more than 317 videos, in which President El-Sadat appears, ranging from talk shows, news reports and documentaries.

The documents collection includes more than 970 Egyptian and American documents, some of which are rare documents in addition to documents in the President’s handwriting.

The audio collection is compilation of audios by President El-Sadat. This collection contains 44 audio tracks.

The press collection contains 7814 press items, ranging from news, reportage and articles that goes back to the period of the late President El-Sadat

JOURNALISTIC PERSPECTIVE

Televised interviews, this section is devoted to all television interviews and letters available of President Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat in an attempt to highlight how he dealt with the Arab and Western media and how he approached and handled its challenges.

The project team has collected most of the book covers that talked about the era of President Anwar El-Sadat as an assistant to the researcher to reach a better understanding of El- Sadat’s story in both its human and political aspects.

Anwar El-Sadat Digital Archive materials were compiled from different sources, such as news agencies, museums, various other institutions, and a collection graciously granted by the late President’s family. The database was published on the Internet with tools and features that facilitate easy navigation through the website. It is important to note that the archive is available only in Arabic.

The digital archive also enables users and researchers to perform comprehensive searches among the different sections and categories of data.

Resources @ MEI

The Middle East Institute (MEI) located in Washington, D.C. was founded in 1946 as a non-profit organization by George Camp Keiser a Middle East scholar. Aiming to promote and transmit knowledge of Middle East, MEI has been active in leading research as well as cultural, academic and educational activities, which all together led to the formation of various centres of Policy, Education and Art and Culture. In addition to its effort in producing and expanding knowledge about Middle East, MEI became an intellectual hub and gave platform to regional experts whose works provide a balance outlook and understanding of the region. Besides organizing conferences and educational programs such as training languages spoken in Middle East like Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Hebrew; it also provides access to many useful online resources and publications about Middle East, some of which will be mentioned briefly below.

Middle East Journal:

MEI publishes The Middle East Journal since 1947, this journal as one of the oldest peer-reviewed publication in studying Middle East provides original researches and source materials covering wide area from Morocco to Pakistan and Central Asia.

“The Journal provides the background necessary for an understanding and appreciation of the region’s political and economic development, cultural heritage, ethnic and religious diversity.”

Access this to journal from McGill library here.

 Digital collection:

MEI via its Oman Library digital collection provides access to hundreds of digitized rare books and manuscripts about/of Middle Eastern studies for researchers and scholars from around the world. This online collection holds materials covering wide range of topics from history, culture and literature available in various languages like English, French, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Farsi, Ottoman Turkish and Turkish. This collection includes rare material from 1700 to 1920 as well as its own publications published by MEI from 1960 to 2004.

Arts & Culture Center:

Middle East Institute, besides organizing cultural events and exhibition through its Art and Culture Center, uses this platform to provide access to a hundreds of different types of online material from media release to podcast, journal article and news. This platform aims to create an environment that facilitates conversation, cross cultural understanding as well as to promote Middle Eastern artist works.

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.

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.

Rekhta: An open access collection of sources on Urdu language & literature

Rekhta.org is a free website established by Rekhta Foundation to promote and disseminate Urdu literature with a focus on Urdu poetry. The website’s content consists of texts in Devanagari and Roman scripts as well as Urdu script.

This website provides access to a large and unique online repository of Urdu Poetry with more than 30,000 Ghazals and Nazms authored by over 2,500 Urdu poets from the last three centuries.

For the purpose of preserving rare and popular Urdu books, Rekhta initiated the digitization of Urdu literature, both poetry and prose.

Rekhta.org “has a large number of features that make it extremely user-friendly and provides the reader unparalleled convenience in the ability to browse, search and find relevant content with its customized powerful search facility. It also has the unique feature of an in-built glossary that provides the meaning of every word at just a click. In order to give the uninitiated reader a flavour of the diction and pronunciation, a large number of compositions have been recorded in the voice of poets and professionals and have been provided along with the text.”

Moreover, Rekhta has recently presented the complete works of two great Urdu Poets, Mir Taqi Mir and Mirza Ghalib, as well as all Saadat Hasan Manto’s short stories.

Another section that was added recently is Rekhti, which is Urdu Shayari composed by men employing women’s language.

The interface is available in English, Hindi and Urdu.

Arabic Literature of Africa Online: database trial

From October 2nd to 31st 2017, the McGill Library is trialing Arabic Literature of Africa Online (ALAO).

ALAO is a bio-bibliography on the Arabic manuscript tradition in the African continent, which continued well into the 20th century CE. It offers authoritative information about African authors, the texts they wrote in Arabic, the manuscripts in which these texts are found, and the locations of these manuscripts, together with bibliographical references to the literature.”

Check it out and let us know what you think!

Bibliotheca Alexandrina digital assets repository

Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria, Egypt) digital assets repository gives free access to more than 137 000 ebooks full-text, among which 24 000 are in Arabic. In addition, it offers limited preview (5% of a title; minimum 10 pages) of over 230 000 copyrighted books, primarily in Arabic (200 000).

Book Site 3.1.2

The Bibliotheca Alexandrina DAR book viewer provides very convenient features including:

  • Full text search within the book’s title, subject, keywords, and content
  • Highlight of search results, and the possibility to highlight, underline and stick notes
  • Single page or two pages display, and one page at a time display to facilitate the opening of a book with a slow Internet connection
  • Multilingual interface.

This project, initiated in 1995 was implemented in 2002. The shared catalogue was developed in 2011 in collaboration with other institutions such as Internet Archive, the Arab World Institute (Paris, France), the Biodiversity Heritage Library, etc.

The interface is trilingual: Arabic, English and French.

Meetings with Books Special Collections in the 21st Century. With a Tribute to Raymond Klibansky Illustrated Survey of Special Collections at McGill University Library and Archives

The holiday season is upon us and the ISL will be closed as of 3pm today only to re-open its doors on the 5th of January 2015 at 9am. This has been another successful year for the ISL in terms of attendance (over 61,700 unique visitors), collection development (close to 3,000 items added including approximately 150 reference materials) and a number of additional activities (exhibitions, talks, information sessions, etc.). It’s been a busy year! Thank you for your support and enthusiasm in the ISL’s activities!

MeetingsOn a different note, a new publication has been released entitled: “Meetings with Books: Special Collections in the 21st Century. With a Tribute to Raymond Klibansky.  Illustrated Survey of Special Collections at McGill University Library and Archives.” This collaborative effort led by Drs. Jillian Tomm and Richard Virr of McGill’s RBSC provides an enlightening survey of the magnificent collections housed in RBSC. Included in those collections are many Islamic materials inclusive of Manuscripts (the image comes from the Dalāʼil al-khayrāt, RBD A6), Calligraphy, Lithographs and Rare Books. One is able to order a physical copy through contacting Dr. Tomm but there’s also an online open access version here.

Happy Holidays from the ISL’s staff and we look forward to seeing you in 2015!