Tuesday, February 24, 2015

al-Raqmiyyāt: Digital Islamic History

al-Raqmiyyāt: Digital Islamic History

Reading Traditional Sources with Nontraditional Methods

Maxim Romanov is a postdoctoral associate at the Department of Classics and the Perseus Digital Library Project, Tufts University. His dissertation (Near Eastern Studies, U of Michigan, 2013) explored how modern computational techniques of text analysis can be applied to the study of premodern Arabic historical sources. In particular, he studied “The History of Islam” (Taʾrīḫ al-islām), the largest of surviving biographical collections with over 30,000 biographies, written by the Damascene scholar al-Ḏahabī (d. 1348 CE). He is continuing his research and develops methods of computational analysis for other genres of premodern Arabic literature, mainly large volume collections—bibliographical collections, collections of traditions (ḥadīṯ), collections of legal decisions (fatwás), interpretation of the Qurʾān (tafsīr), etc.—that can offer insights into long-term and large-scale developments that took place during the pre-modern period of Islamic history. He is working on two book projects: (1) “The History of Islam”: An Essay in Digital Humanities continues the study of al-Ḏahabī’s tremendous collection of biographies, while (2) The Gift to the Knowledgeable 2.0, explores cultural production in the Islamic world until the beginning of the 20th century through the study of the Hadiyyaŧ al-ʿārifīn, a bibliographical collection composed by Ismāʿīl Bāšā al-Baġdādī (d. 1920). 

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