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Decolonizing Digital Sources for the Middle Eastern History Classroom
This paper discusses some of the challenges of using Digital Humanities methods and tools in the Middle Eastern history courses I teach at an American institution in the Middle East. The geographical location, the hyper-diverse student population, and the particular institutional affiliations of my university as well as ethical and scholarly concerns about using Euro-centric digitized records and digital tools to study formerly colonized regions all raise fundamental questions about the inclusiveness and ethics of the field of Digital Humanities and their implications for undergraduate humanities education. From the paucity of digital corpora in Middle Eastern languages to poor representation of the region in modern geographical databases to the challenges of access to existing historical digital collections in the region (due to both language barriers and the nature of the user-facing interfaces of some of those collections), a number of factors make it a particularly demanding task to use DH tools and methods in the Middle Eastern history classrooms. Of special concern is the risk to canonize and reinforce the dominant position of the colonial archives and scholarship in the histories of the region as these records are more easily accessible to students both by virtue of language (English) and because they are often readily available in edited, digitized, and online formats. Approaching the question of using data and DH tools in the undergraduate classroom from the perspective of scholarship rooted in non-European languages and histories, my paper will discuss specific examples of challenges instructors of Middle Eastern Studies courses face on a regular basis.
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All Middle East
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