Digitizing the textual heritage of the premodern islamicate world: Principles and plans

Document Type



Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, London


The varied textual traditions of the premodern Islamicate World represent an opportunity and a problem for the Digital Humanities (DH). The opportunity lies in the sheer extent of this textual heritage: if we combine the textual output of premodern Persian and Arabic authors (not to mention Turkish and other less well-represented Islamicate languages), this body of texts constitutes arguably the largest written repository of human culture. Analytical methods developed for other linguistic heritages can be repurposed to make use of this wealth of texts, and efforts are now underway to apply to them a series of computationally enhanced methods that derive from a variety of disciplines (e.g., corpus linguistics, computational linguistics, the social sciences, and statistics). The application of these forms of analysis to these large new corpora promises new insights on premodern Islamicate cultures and the improvement of existing digital tools and methodologies.

Publication (Name of Journal)

International Journal of Middle East Studies