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DAME (Digital Archive of the Middle East)

1 January 2022 - 1 January 2025

PI/s in Exeter: Professor Adam Hanieh

CI/s in Exeter: Dr Farangis Ghaderi

Research partners: University of Tsinghua

Sponsor(s): Jointly funded by the University of Exeter and University of Tsinghua

About the research

This three-year research project is a collaboration between The Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies (IAIS) at the University of Exeter and the Institute for International and Area Studies (IIAS) at Tsinghua University, building upon the 2019 Memorandum of Understanding established between the two institutions. By using new technologies to digitise selected parts of the University’s collections of material from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the project aims to open up a series of research questions about the potential for digitisation in advancing research.

The MENA Special Collections at Exeter include the papers of Sir Charles Belgrave, Sir John Wilton and Sir William Luce (British colonial history in the Gulf), the research materials of Jonathan Crusoe (Iraq/Kuwait), the papers of John Shebbeare and John Craven Wilkinson (modern Omani history), the letters of Nabih and Adil al-Azmah (nineteenth- and twentieth-century Egypt, Palestine and Syria), the academic papers and correspondence of Nazih Ayubi (covering political Islam, public administration and economic theory in Egypt and the Middle East), and the research materials of Abd al-Fattah M. El-Awaisi (especially valuable for early interviews with members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood), the Omar Sheikhmous archive (twentieth-century Kurdish political history), and a considerable number of personal archives relating to the modern histories of Palestine and Israel, including some major photographic collections.

In addition to this, material held in the Arab World Documentation Unit (AWDU) – which moved from the Old Library to a newly refurbished space in IAIS in September 2022 – will also be digitised, allowing access to this unique collection of governmental, political, state and economic papers from and pertaining to the Arab world from the 1970s to the present.

The primary aim of the project is not that of creating digital content, but of exploring how digitisation can assist research into the history of the MENA region. It is however expected that the Digital Archive of the Middle East will become a vital digital resource for future scholarship, providing an online platform through which our collections will be made more accessible, as well as linking to other digitised archives and encouraging international partnerships and regional collaborations.

The DAME research team is led by Joint Chair Professor Adam Hanieh (PI), and includes as Co-I's Prof. Sajjad Rizvi, Prof. Lise StormProf. Timothy Insoll and Prof. Christina Phillips, and a post-doctoral researcher, Dr Farangis Ghaderi, as well as three new PhD students that are being appointed. The project is managed by Dr James Downs, Archivist for the Middle East Collections and AWDU Librarian.

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