Making (Up) an Archive

Women's Worlds in Qajar Iran textile

In a paper given at the 2013 conference of the Digital Islamic Humanities Project, Harvard professor Afsaneh Najmabadi outlines the disciplinary and theoretical considerations of establishing a multi-genre digital archive to document a historically underrepresented group in established archives: women of Iran's Qajar dynasty (1796-1925). The Women's Worlds in Qajar Iran is a digital repository that, as of April 2013, provides access to 33,000 images, 43 private family collections, and ten institutional collections. Professor Najmabadi, Principal Investigator on this project, emphasizes the scholastic advantages of "pull[ing] together disparate archival threads" by gathering personal and family objects, photographs, and oral histories on a digital platform. "[This] has produced a fabric that is not simply the sum total of the separate threads. The resulting fabric generates connections that facilitate doing richer histories," states Najmabadi.

Professor Najmabadi's paper, "Making (Up) an Archive: What Could Writing History Look Like in a Digital Age?" is available in DASH.