ArabLit: Arabic Literature and Translation

ArabLit: Arabic Literature in Translation is a blog launched in 2009 by Marcia Lynx Qualey, a freelance journalist living in Cairo who holds a Master Degree in creative writing from the University of Minnesota. In addition to maintaining ArabLit M. Lynx Qualey writes about Arabic literature for a number of newspapers and journals:  The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Your Middle East, and AGNI  Online, a literary journal published by Boston University.

Over time, ArabLit became a good source of daily news and views on Arab and Arabic literature and translation. As described in an interview by Claire Jacobson (for Asymptot): “her [Qualey’s] coverage leaves no stone unturned, spanning a wide range of genres (from poetry to nonfiction, magical realism to science fiction) and countries (from Morocco to Iraq, Sudan to Syria).”

In 2017, ArabLit won the prestigious Literary Translation Initiative Award at the London Book Fair, and M. Lynx Qualey launched the BULAQ Podcast in collaboration with Ursula Lindsey, from The Arabist. BULAQ focuses on contemporary writing from and about the Middle East and North Africa, and on literature (what does it do? Why does it matter? How does it relates to society, history and politics?). BULAQ is co-produced by Sowt, a podcasting platform producing and distributing high-quality audio programs in Arabic based in Amman (Jordan) and launched in 2016.

In 2018, with support from fans and readers (53,208 followers in July 2020), Qualey was able to develop ArabLit by launching new initiatives:

  • the ArabLit Story Prize is awarded every year to the best short stories recently translated from Arabic to English by non-previously published translators
  • ArabKidLitNow! provides a “fresh view on contemporary Arabic children’s literature, in Arabic and in translation” is addressed to  publishers, translators, readers of Arabic, Arabic language learners, readers of English, teachers, librarians, booksellers, etc.
  • ArabLit Quarterly is a theme-based “magazine that brings together Arabic literature, essays, wordplay, art, music, and food in translation”
  • ArabLit Store offers items and publications for purchase.

In 2020, despite de COVID-19 crisis, M. Lynx Qualey was able to:

  • Launch the 5th and 6th issues of ArabLit Quarterly covering “The road” and “The crime” themes, and start working on the 7th and 8th issues that will focus on “Cats” and “Dreams”
  • Start a “lock-in literature” series for readers with limited access to books during the COVID-19 shutdowns
  • Run the #ArabicTranslationChallenge with Kevin Blankinship, assistant Professor of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at Brigham Young University.

Interested people can follow Marcia Lynx Qualey on Facebook, Instragam, Twitter, Youtube, SoundCloud, or by subscribing to the Tiny Newsletter. Last, in order to support further development, ArabLit is welcoming donations.

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.

The Palestinian Poster Project Archive

The Palestinian Poster Project Archive (PPPA) was created by Dan Walsh for a master thesis project at Georgetown University, stating that: “It is a work-in-progress.”

The Palestine poster genre dates back to around 1900 and, incredibly, more Palestine posters are designed, printed and distributed today than ever before. Unlike most of the political art genres of the twentieth century such as those of revolutionary Cuba and the former Soviet Union, which have either died off, been abandoned, or become mere artifacts, the Palestine poster genre continues to evolve. Moreover, the emergence of the Internet has exponentially expanded the genre’s network of creative contributors and amplified the public conversation about contemporary Palestine.

Dan Walsh – Silver Spring, MD April 2009

A unique historical repository of primary data on modern Palestine. Audiences who are interested in this rich, yet under-valued module of Palestinian cultural heritage, can have a better understanding of people who were engaged in the contemporary history of Palestine and recorded it in their graphic art.

According to PPPA a “Palestine poster” is defined in five-part definition:

1) With the word “Palestine” in it, in any language, from any source or time period.

2) Created or published by any artist or agency claiming Palestinian nationality or Palestinian participation

3) Published in the geographical territory of historic Palestine, at any point in history, including

4) Published by any source which relates directly to the social, cultural, political, military, economic or iconographic history of Palestine or Palestinian nationalism contemporary Israel

5) Related to Zionism or anti-Zionism in any language, from any source, published after August 31, 1897

Site visitors can browse the poster collection by: Artists (2,640), Posters (13,774), Wellsprings, Special Collections (920), Iconography, Original Copies, Portfolios, Duplicates/Exchanges, Year of Publication, Country of publication, and Nationality/Artists

The Liberation Graphics Collection of Palestine Posters, which was Nominated to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program 2016-2017, is a subset of the more than 11,500 posters featured at the Palestine Poster Project Archives web site.

The PPPA is an educational site and does not engage in any commercial or merchandising activities. Posters’ duplicates are frequently traded with private individuals as well as other archives and libraries. Furthermore, The PPPA has a strict policy concerning poster’s removal, as it will never remove a poster from its site. There is a dedicated link on the website for poster submission. Last but not least, the FAQ provides a deep insight into the core objectives of the archive, as it comprehensively answers a wide range of questions, it is worthwhile checking.

Allama Iqbal Poetry (کلام علامہ محمد اقبال)

Allama Iqbal Poetry کلام علامہ محمد اقبال  is a website established by a team of freelancer gathering all Iqbal’s Poetry works in one place.

This page provides free access to a complete collection of Urdu and Persian Poetry of Allama Iqbal, as well as English translation, transliteration and Urdu explanation of the poetries.

Muhammad Iqbal (9 November 1877 – 21 April 1938) known as Allama Iqbal was a leading and prominent Persian and Urdu poet of India in the first half of the 20th century. He was also a distinguished philosopher, theorist, and barrister in British India, and he was known to be the “Spiritual Father of Pakistan” because of his contribution to the nation.

His poetry works are cherished internationally among literature scholars’ community as well as among Indians, Pakistanis, Iranians, Afghans and Bangladeshis. Along with his fame as a poet, he is also known as one of the Muslim philosophical thinkers in the modern era therefor his Urdu and English lectures and letters, believed to have been important in political, social, religious and cultural discourses.

To read more about Allama Iqbal and his work, Encyclopedia Iranica has an article about him, access here.

Allama Iqbal Poetry is a searchable website with the possibility of searching for words, couplet, verse and shair in Iqbal’s poetry. Moreover, these 11 complete Urdu and Persian books of him are accessible to be browsed too.

 

  1. Armaghan-e-Hijaz (ارمغان حجاز) – The Gift of Hijaz 
  2. Bal-e-Jibril (با ل جبر یل) – Wings of Gabriel
  3. Bang-e-Dra (با نگ درا) – The Call of the Marching Bell
  4. Zarb-e-Kaleem (ضر ب کلیم) – The Rod of Moses
  5. Asrar-e-Khudi (اسرارٍ خودی) – Secrets of the Self
  6. Rumuz-e-Bekhudi (رموز بیخودی) – Mysteries of the Selflessness
  7. Payam-e-Mashriq(پیامِ مشرق) – A Message From The East
  8. Zabur-e-Ajam (زبورعجم) – Persian Psalms
  9. Javed Nama (جاوید نامہ) – Book of Javed
  10. Pas Che Bayad Kard & Musafir Masnavi (پس چہ باید کرد اے اقوام شرق بمعہ مسافر مثنوی) – What Should Then Be Done O People of East & The Traveller
  11. Armaghan-e-Hijaz Farsi (ارمغان حجاز فارسی) – The Gift of Hijaz Persian

Palestinian Journeys

Palestinian Journeys is a collaborative project of the Palestinian Museum and the Institute for Palestine Studies. The Palestinian Museum is an independent institution founded in 1997 by the Taawon Welfare Association with the goal of promoting a dynamic vision of Palestinian culture engaged with new perspectives on history, society and culture. The Institute for Palestine Studies is an independent not-for-profit research institution founded in 1963 to document Palestine and and publish ground-breaking scholarship on historical and contemporary Palestine.

Powered by by Visualizing Palestine, whose productions we already highlighted on this blog (here), the Palestinian Journeys platform is continuously populated with valuable content.

Palestinian Journeys main page

The platform is discoverable via two main entries accessible from the left-hand side of the screen: the “Timeline,” and the “Stories.

The Timeline, “an ever-growing encyclopedic collection of historical events, biographies, themed chronologies”. Originally  created by he Institute for Palestine Studies, it aims at highlighting historical, socioeconomic and cultural themes, relying on historical documents, and multimedia content. From within the timeline, various categories are available:

  1. Ottoman Rule
  2. Early Mandate Period
  3. Second Mandate Period
  4. The Palestine War and the Nakba
  5. Reverberation of 1948 Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict
  6. The Rise of the Palestinian Movement in the Wake of the 1967 Arab Defeat
  7. From a Sense of Victory to separate Peace and civil War
  8. Palestinian Defeat, Division and Survival
  9. The first Intifada and the beginning of Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations
  10. The Oslo process and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority
  11. The Aqsa Intifada and the end of an Era in Palestinian Politics
  12. A Palestinian Authority divided, Israeli Assaults on Gaza and Peace process Setbacks.

Stories

In addition, an “Inspire me” category allows visitors to discover the Palestinian Journeys through a selection of marking moments, events, and characters, and a search feature allows visitors to focus on a specific event or theme they are interested in.

Inspire me

A short description including source is available for each document, and sometimes related content is suggested:

The interface is bilingual English-Arabic.

Digital Persian Archive (Asnad.org)

Marriage contract between Mirza ‘Ali Aqa Haqiqi and Bibi Rukhsarah.

Digital Persian Archives project is an online archival image database containing thousands of public and private historical documents from Iran and Central Asia up to the 20th century. It includes royal decrees and orders, official correspondence, and shari’a court documents, such as contracts of sale and lease, vaqf deeds, marriage contracts, and court orders.

This project initially was launched in 2003 and by Department of Islamic Studies at the Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg and it was called Asnad.org. however, after years of progress and improvement by various departments, in 2019 it was moved to the University of Bamberg where it is under the supervision of the Chair of Iranian Studies.

The main goal of Digital Persian Archives project is to facilitate locating and accessing primary resources and archival material. Therefore, to do so virtual archive of Persian documents has been created as a searchable database. Materials can be searched by particular period or region, specific person, topic or location.

Marriage contract between Hajji Muhammad Zaman ‘Allaf and Sakinah Sultan. 18 Sha’ban 1317 / 22.12.1899 – 22.12.1899

 

A wide range of documents have been included in this project from medieval and early modern periods up to 20th century of Iranian and Central Asian history, factoring in “the older, the more precious” and the quality and readability of the documents in selection criteria. However, as for the language and geographical scope of this project, Persian is rather representing a cultural characteristic than a rigid linguistic specification. The same way Persia was understood in its historical and geographical sense, therefore documents in other languages like Arabic were included, when the connection to Persian cultural influence was clear. Their geographical selection criteria were outlined as below:

“The same is true for the geographical range we seek to cover. The core areas are defined by the shifting historical boundaries of Iran, thus including at times regions such as Anatolia, the Caucasus and Middle Asia. Another criterion is the use of Persian as administrative language as in Central Asia or India, although the systematic integration of Indian documents is beyond the project’s scope.” (Selection criteria)

Sultanmuhammad b. Janmuhammad Bayg sold two pieces of land to Imamvirdi Khan Qiriqlu [Afshar] which are located in Abivard near Mashhad for the amount of 70 Tuman; contract includes a musalahah; Imamvirdi Khan was among the generals of Nadir Shah and for some time held the office of Nazir-i buyutat-i khassah. Date: 25 Jumada II 1156 / 16.8.1743 – 16.8.1743

Marriage contract (‘aqd-i munakihah) between Aqa ‘Abd al-Rahim b. Aqa ‘Ali Baba und Jahan Sultan bt. Aqa Muhammad … ‘Assar (oil-presser) Date: 18 Rajab 1295 / 18.7.1878 – 18.7.1878

La fabrique du Caire moderne

La fabrique du Caire moderne is a “pilot project about urban development, architecture, Euro-Mediterranean entanglements and global investment in Cairo in the 19th and 20th centuries.”

The project is is co-directed by Professors Mercedes Volait (CNRS) and Adam Mestyan (Duke) and conducted in collaboration with researchers from:

Hosted by Duke University, the blog includes news items and announcements relating to the project as well as lengthy thematic articles and descriptions of relevant archival documents (photographs, plans, maps, etc.).

The Sources page references the main photo albums used to conduct the research.

Last, the website is trilingual: Arabic, French and English.

Historians of the Ottoman Empire

The Historians of the Ottoman Empire project was initiated in the Fall of 2003 as a major bio-bibliographical reference book on Ottoman historians. This project is made possible by a generous grant from the Packard Humanities Institute, employing an assistant professor at Indiana University and two graduate students at the University of Chicago.

The database offers significantly more detailed information about Ottoman historians authors than what is normally found in typical encyclopaedia articles. Each author-entry is accompanied with a list of manuscripts (along with their locations). Unpublished manuscripts will be given particular attention, and a short summary or a table of contents will be provided. It is expected, the database will contain the most complete and up-to-date and accurate list of manuscripts available anywhere.

Historians of the Ottoman Empire covers different places, different times of the Ottoman Empire;  it includes works written in Cairo after 1517, in Athens up to 1830, and in Istanbul until 1923.

While the scope of this project is limited to historians, the definition of historian is used in its broader sense to include works such as biographical material, geographies, military narratives (gazavatnames,fethnames) etc. On the other hand, works written with an intention to be fully a piece of literature are excluded.

An “Ottoman” means “having been an Ottoman subject at least for a part of one’s life”. In other words, individuals having lived in the Ottoman Empire and having written narrative works that consciously include a significant “historical” content.

The database provides four browsing options; by historian, by work, by author and by date. Additionally, articles are written only in English and Turkish, because the database is bilingually designed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Historians of the Ottoman Empire project is intended to be a unique reference work to scholars and students, as well as for non-specialists interested in the histories and cultures of these regions.

Persian Heritage magazine

Persian Heritage Magazine is an independent, non-political, non-governmental publication first published in 1996 by Shahrokh Ahkami, the Editor.

Persian heritage is a quarterly publishing magazine about culture and history of Iran. It is trying to respond to its readers’ need -Iranian outside of Iran- by keeping them informed with update information on the richness and diversity of Iranian culture and heritage, as well as to facilitate inter-cultural interaction by reaching to those non-Persians yet interested in Persian heritage.

 

 

Therefore every issue of the magazine is being published in Farsi and English and covers various topics from Arts and culture (miniature, poetry,etc.) to prehistoric findings in Iran as well as reviewing recent exhibition in or about Iran’s history and culture.

 

 

This magazine is published by Persian Heritage, INC. The online version is freely accessible.

King George III’s Collection of military Maps

King George III’s collection of military maps includes 3,000 maps, drawings and prints, collected by him but also by other individuals. The two main collections he acquired are that of his uncle, William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721–65), and that of the Italian art patron Cassiano dal Pozzo (1588–1657). In addition to these, George III acquired hundreds of maps of contemporary conflicts.

The Royal Collection Trust whose mandate is to look after the British Royal Collection, recently digitized this military maps and created a digital collection. Although focusing primarily on European conflicts, the collection includes a significant number of maps of the Ottoman Empire, North Africa and South Asia. The main navigation map (below) allows visitors to navigate the collection by geographical area.

But the collection is also discoverable by time period or conflict:

Collections of particular interest to Islamic, Middle East, and South Asian studies scholars are the following:

The materials can be opened directly in the web browser or in the detailed object viewer shared. They can also be shared (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, email) and downloaded in very high definition.

Tripoli [Libya] Città di Barbaria, cosi detta … [there follows a description of its geographical position and summary of its history:]… è fatta una fortezza per guardia del porto qual fortezza del anno 1630… Nouamente il Duca… 1630 or later