NEWS | 21 Nov 2016
DEVELOPMENTS IN DIGITAL ISLAMIC LAW :: New Tools that Range from Machine Learning to Mapping Islamic Legal Texts

Preceding the annual Middle East Studies Association (MESA) conference in Boston, SHARIAsource hosted several events on emerging digital research tools featuring new research tools developed by Maxim Romanov (Universität Leipzig) and his team. The events covered digital mapping tools that can – among other historical questions – show the regions in which different approaches to Islamic law developed and spread, enable scholars to collaborate on creating a corpus of Arabic texts compatible with digital humanities tools, and allow comparisons between texts to show when and how much one scholar borrowed ideas from another. The major finding is this: after years of chasing a chimeric tool made up of the ability to manipulate Arabic PDFs (many of which are scans that remain static, like a physical book) and easy compatibility with machine learning and other digital humanities work (a tool long resolved for Latin characters), Romanov’s team has managed to capture the once mythical beast. For the first time in the field, the Islamicate Texts Initiative (ITI) has produced a high-accuracy optical character recognition (OCR) tool – with accuracy rates in the high-nineties – that will change the possibilities for digital Islamic law and digital Islamic humanities both. (The chart above illustrates the success rate for recognition when used on a number of different texts and scan qualities.) The ITI team, in addition to Romanov, includes Matthew Thomas Miller (Roshan Institute for Persian Studies, University of Maryland, College Park), Sarah Bowen Savant (Agha Khan University), and Benjamin Kiessling (Universität Leipzig). The events were sponsored or co-sponsored by the Islamic Legal Studies Program: SHARIAsource, the Center for Geographic Analysis at Harvard, and the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC).  Read more. Image credit: ITI/Important New Developments in Arabographic Optical Character Recognition (OCR)

DOCUMENT: Sharifian Decree of 1957 - The Mudawwana: Law of Personal Status
Uploaded by Morocco editor Ari Schriber, "This section of al-Jarīda al-Rasmiyya officially promulgates the first two books of the Moroccan Personal Status Code, the Mudawwana (1957). The first book presents stipulations concerning marriage, including issues such as the contract, dowry, and inhibitors (like number of wives). The second book deals with the dissolution of marriage, thus addressing conditions of repudiation, women’s repudiation, and the ʿidda (the woman’s waiting period until she may remarry)." Read more. (SHARIAsource beta access required).  Image credit: SHARIAsource
SHARIAsource Welcomes New Program Coordinator
Darrick Northington joined the SHARIAsource team last week as Program Coordinator. He brings amazing talents and experiences to the SHARIAsource's team. Darrick is a graduate of Indiana University (BA) and Harvard University (MTS), where he studied religion and US society, American pragmatism, and the history of political philosophy. He spent the last several years closely assisting friend and mentor,  Charles J. Ogletree Jr., Jesse Climenko Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Most recently Darrick served as the House Administrator for The John Winthrop House. He brings many years of Harvard administrative experience to SHARIAsource, as well as a passion for academic study and racial and community justice.  Image credit: Harvard
Other News

Roundtable Discussion :: Understandings of Sharīʿa (Islamic law) and Policies Designed to Solve Conflicts (13 Dec 2016 | Washington, D.C.)  Intisar Rabb , Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Founding Editor-In-Chief of SHARIAsource and Paul Beran, Executive Director of SHARIAsource, will participate in a roundtable discussion that explores the contours of sharīʿa (Islamic law) in the development and critique of policies designed to solve conflicts. The program will consist of experts on Islamic law and foreign policy in discussion with a diverse range of policymakers and executors. The event is co-sponsored by the Islamic Legal Studies Program’s SHARIAsource at Harvard Law School and the United States Institute of Peace. More information to come.

"Qur’anists in al-Andalus?" (5 Apr 2017 4 pm | Princeton, NJ). Incoming ILSP: SHARIAsource and CMES senior fellow Maribel Fierro will be speaking as part of the Institute for Advanced Study's Near/Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Lecture Series 2016/2017. She explores the production of religious and political authority sharing her study of how prophets accepted by Islam are represented. See full details. 

2017 Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of Law, Culture & the Humanities at Stanford University (21 Mar-01 Apr 2017 | Palo Alto, CA) . The Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities is now accepting panel and paper proposals for their twentieth annual meeting. Proposals that include complete panels or focus on pedagogy, methodology, author-meets-readers sessions, or performance (theatrical, cinematic, musical, and poetic) are strongly encouraged. Abstracts of 250 words or less are due on  28 Oct Read more .

The Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History (4-17 Jun 2017 | Madison, WI).  The American Society for Legal History and the Institute for Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin Law School are now accepting applications for their ninth biennial Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History. Applications are due on  1 Dec Read more. 

Symposia Iranica: Third Biennial Conference on Iranian Studies ( 11-12 Apr 2017 | Cambridge, UK). Symposia Iranica welcomes proposals that engage with any aspect of Iranian studies within the arts, humanities, and social sciences. These include but are not limited to prehistory through contemporary history; poetry and literature; economics; political science; philosophy; archaeology; religions and theology; historiography; sociology; anthropology; music; art and architecture history; social and political theory; cultural heritage; international relations; languages and linguistics; law and legal studies; Diaspora studies; new media and communication studies; film studies; and the performing arts. Comparative themes and interdisciplinary approaches are also very welcome. Proposals due 2 DecRead more.

Junior Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Department of Law and Anthropology (Apr 2017 | Halle). The Max Planck Institute is establishing a junior research group to investigate the bureaucratization of Islam and its socio-legal dimensions in Southeast Asia. There are three PhD positions open; the positions would be for three years. Applications are due 15 Dec. Read more.

Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) 2017-2018 Fellowships (Sep 2017-May 2018 | Cairo or Amman). CASA offers advanced level training in Arabic language and culture to qualified American students at The American University in Cairo and Qasid Arabic Institute in Amman (pending the security and funding for each location). Applicants to the CASA programs must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and should have a minimum of 3 years of formal instruction in Arabic prior to joining CASA. Applications due Jan 9Read more.

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