[C6244] Big Data and Mega Corpora in the Middle East Studies

Created by SYSTEM Manager
Thursday, 10/08/20 01:30 pm


Massive collections of digital texts and data offer mind-boggling new opportunities for scholars throughout the humanities and social sciences. It is now possible to download and search through corpora of thousands of texts, collect and analyze millions of online comments, and collect and display innumerable digital materials that will form archives of our era for future generations. This session offers striking examples of these new capabilities and their emerging use in Middle East studies. In addition to substantive research findings, each presentation will briefly discuss the software tools used in the project. The session is geared both toward scholars who are already working in this area and scholars who would like to learn more about the possibilities. This session is part of an initiative to create a community of Middle East studies scholars who are interested in developing and sharing computational tools and resources, bringing together scholars in the digital humanities and computational social science. The presenters at this initial thematic conversation illustrate the use of these new digital tools in multiple fields within Middle East studies: pre-modern history, 20th century history, contemporary cultural studies, and contemporary political analysis: A historian will present preliminary findings from an initiative that is digitizing thousands of Islamicate texts of the premodern period. Among these findings are patterns of re-use of phrases and sentences from text to text, which illustrate the flow of ideas in Muslim societies and may help to reconstruct lost texts. A literary scholar will present preliminary findings from a team of historians, computational linguists, and other scholars who are digitizing and analyzing Arab periodicals of the early 20th century. Among these findings are long-term trends in the use of terms such as dignity (karama), bread (aish), and freedom (hurriya). A media scholar will present data visualizations from a digital archive of material from the Egyptian uprising of 2011. This approach combines cultural studies and creative art as complementary critical practices. A political scientist will present findings from a project that automated the analysis of thousands of video and audio messages produced by the Islamic State, as well as millions of Twitter messages by Islamic State sympathizers, to examine the effect of Islamic State propaganda on subsequent online behavior. This thematic conversation is intended to last three years. We also hope to hold workshops in upcoming years for hands-on training in the collection and analysis of big data and mega corpora, both for current practitioners and beginners.





    Charles Kurzman

    (UNC-Chapel Hill)
    Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer;

    Richard Nielsen

    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
    Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer;