Academy Colloquium: Whither Islamicate Digital Humanities? Analytics, Tools, Corpora
Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
Amsterdam (NLD), 13-15 December 2018
Funded by the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences & the Netherlands eScience Center
Hosted by the “Bridging the Gap” project, Utrecht University (NLD), and the Digital Islamic Humanities Project, Brown University (RI, USA)
“Whither Islamicate Digital Humanities? Analytics, Tools, Corpora” is a three-day international conference dedicated to the budding field of Islamicate Digital Humanities (IDH). In recent years, the number of projects, initiatives and research programs in this field has greatly increased. Recognition of these efforts has already resulted in the formulation of guidelines for the evaluation of digital scholarship by the Middle East Studies Association, as well as a recent proposal for a set of principles to guide scholarly corpus building (IJMES 50, “Roundtable”). These developments signal a field gradually coming of age. Yet, most scholars would also agree that much work remains to be done before a plug-and-play, one-click survey of the vast Islamicate textual heritage becomes even remotely realistic. This conference seeks to take stock and showcase efforts currently underway in global IDH text-mining and identify ways of promoting collaboration and synergy.
The building of scholarly corpora is a crucial factor in the further development of IDH. How to make sure that these corpora are not only useful for the researchers who created them, but also for others who wish to benefit from them in the future? How to address the issue of past and present selection biases in the building of corpora? How truly Islamicate are existing efforts in linguistic terms? How should we take into account issues of copyright and citability in the building of pre-modern and modern corpora? Which corpora have been built in the area of Islamicate DH? Which ones are currently under construction? Which ones should (or should not) be built in the future?
From stemming to text-reuse and topic modelling, a range of analytical tools have been developed in recent years (or are being developed) to enable digital analysis of various corpora. This section will feature hands-on presentations that introduce and critically discuss a number of these tools. Which tools deliver the best results? Which are useful for the broader scholarly community? How can we promote the interoperability and sustainability of these tools? How can we create tools that use the peculiarities of the Islamicate textual heritage?
While many successful applications of IDH replicate existing and well-proven qualitative research methods, how does IDH open up possibilities for new questions and methods? Thissection invites papers especially in the emergent area of Cultural Analytics, that is, “the analysis of massive cultural datasets and flows using computational and visualization techniques”. How can we combine the possibilities of computational analysis of quantitative data (distant reading) with qualitative research methods (close reading)? What is good practice in Islamicate, digitally driven Cultural Analytics? What are convincing (and perhaps not so convincing) examples of the research done so far in IDH?