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Faculty of Arts and Sciences
 
The Second Digital Humanities Institute in Beirut

​​​​​​The Digital Humanities Institute in Beirut hosted their second conference, which took place from March 10-12, 2017 at the American University of Beirut (AUB). The event was organized by associate professor David Wrisley and Dr. Najla Jarkas from the Department of English, Rayane Fayed from IT, Fatme Charafeddine from the Library and Mario Hawat, a recently graduated English major


Digital Humanities Institutes have been held at AUB in the past. The event in 2015 was the inaugural year for DHIB.  It was organized by David Wrisley and Randa El Khatib, then a graduate student in the MA program. The Digital Humanities Institute in 2015 featured international speakers from the Digital Humanities community, and focused on bringing practices from the digital humanities to Lebanon. This year’s event aimed to expand awareness about the emergent trends in the Humanities, to increase the community of the digital humanities in the Arab world, and to encourage collaborative research across faculties by including librarians and technologists.
 
The conference was split into workshops and lectures to give a diversity of students and attendees an opportunity to learn and to teach about the digital skills they have acquired, and to encourage the students to think about research that would be carried out not only within the Humanities but also in conjunction with emergent technologies. The event also served to strengthen the relationship between AUB and other members of the AMICAL consortium, which brings together 27 institutions of higher education located in 21 countries across Eastern, Central and Western Europe, West and North Africa, the Middle East, Central and Southern Asia, and Russia, committed to the American model of liberal education. Through the collaborative development of library and information services and curricular resources AMICAL institutions have chosen to collaborate for mutual benefit and to support the advancement of learning and teaching in the Humanities.  
 
The speakers at the opening session included Nadia Cheikh, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at AUB, Yousif Asfour, Chief Information Officer at AUB, Elie Kahale, Head of digital initiatives at the AUB University Libraries and Jeff Gima, director of the AMICAL consortium.
 
The Digital Humanities Institute in Beirut 2017 had fifteen international participants interested in building Digital Humanities in their own institutions. The countries represented were Egypt, UAE, Ghana, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Ghana, France, Switzerland, Greece, Germany and Italy. The collaboration of international participants and local producers of knowledge was an exciting development in AUB’s commitment to Digital Humanities and to collaborative endeavors in learning.
 
“The humanities have made a digital turn--in the ways that we collect, archive and analyze our research data--and AUB has been leading the way in raising awareness locally about this global trend,” said organizer David Wrisley. “The event is the opportunity to learn about how the world of humanities research is changing, in its scale, its subjects, but also the skills required to carry out such cutting edge research.  DHIB is the first such training opportunity in the Arab World, and has already influenced a group of students, orienting them to new thesis topics, opening doors to graduate education, and importantly, encouraging them to include a technical skill set into their research.”
 
AUB is already involved with interdepartmental projects in the Digital Humanities: The Linguistic Landscape Project records how Lebanon’s multilingualism is expressed in public space in written form, and have made their work available to all as an interactive map. The Mapping Beirut Print Center explores the spatio-temporal dimension of print culture in Beirut using a historical investigation into the last one hundred years of printing and distribution of Lebanese literature. Using archival materials and printed maps they are creating a historical and political record of the city which encourages thought and discussion of issues affecting people living in Beirut today, such as gentrification, the commercialization of cultural spaces and the rise of electronic publishing.
 
The keynote of the Digital Humanities Institute In Beirut 2017 focused on local research like that being conducted at AUB throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, highlighting the activation of local knowledge and the use of local resources in order to access a wider base of scholarship. The reclamation of local knowledge production through new technologies is an exciting frontier in Humanities education, and FAS looks forward to the leaps forward Digital Humanities is sure to make in the years to come.



Opening Ceremony at The Second Digital Humanities in Beirut​

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