curriculum vitæ

Maxim Romanov

Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies (2013), University of Michigan

  • Current positions: Universitätsassistent für Digital Humanities, Institut für Geschichte, Universität Wien  Senior Research Fellow, ISMC, Aga Khan University–London Ph.D.: in Near Eastern Studies (2013), University of Michigan

  • UWien Profile: maxim dot romanov at univie dot ac dot at | Official IfG page | u:cris Profile UWien page: UWien page UWien u:cris profile: b1950f96-8702-4cc6-b430-b1ca15cf7472

  • Personal email: romanov dot maxim at gmail dot com | Website


  • 2018–: Senior Research Fellow at “Knowledge, Information Technology, & the Arabic Book” (KITAB, an ERC-Project), led by Dr. Sarah Savant, Aga Khan University–London, Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations

  • 2017–: Universitätsassistent für Digital Humanities, Universität Wien, Institut für Geschichte 

  • 2015–2017: Research Fellow, Leipzig University, Computer Science Institute, The Humboldt Chair for Digital Humanities

  • 2013–2015: Postdoctoral Associate, Tufts University, Department of Classics & Perseus Project

  • 2006–2012: Graduate Student Instructor (Teaching Assistant), University of Michigan, Department of Near Eastern Studies

  • 2004–2006: Junior Researcher, Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences; former: St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies, St. Petersburg, Russia (SPbIOS/IOM of RAS)


  • 2006–2013: Ph.D. (December 15, 2013) / M.A. (April 29, 2010) in Near Eastern Studies (Arabic & Islamic Studies), University of Michigan, USA. Link to check an official record:

  • 2001–2004: Post-graduate program in Islamic Studies, Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences; St. Petersburg, Russia (SPbIOS/IOM of RAS)

  • 1999–2001: St. Petersburg State University, the School (“Fakultet”) of Oriental Studies (Arab Countries History), St. Petersburg, Russia.

  • 1998–2001: B.A./M.A. in Sociology, St. Petersburg State University, the School (“Fakultet”) of Sociology, M.A. Thesis: “The role of religious scholars (ʿulamāʾ) in the life of Islamic society”; St. Petersburg, Russia.

  • 1995–1998: The Baltic State Technical University, the School (“Fakultet”) of Humanities (concentration in Political Sciences), St. Petersburg, Russia.

Publications (selected; total: 22)

  • publications can be downloaded from most important DH articles; pr — peer-reviewed; oa — open access

  • 2019e pr, oa: Romanov, Maxim, Matthew Thomas Miller, Sarah Bowen Savant, and Masoumeh Seydi. “Open Islamicate Texts Initiative: A Machine-Readable Corpus of Texts Produced in the Premodern Islamicate World (Poster).” In Digital Humanities 2019 Conference Papers (9-12 July 2019). Utrecht University, 2019 >> >> Poster; NB: the poster won an award for innovative and interdisciplinary research in line with one of the themes of the Utrecht Centre for Digital Humanities.

  • 2019d pr, oa: Romanov, Maxim, and Masoumeh Seydi. “al-Ṯurayyā, the Gazetteer and the Geospatial Model of the Early Islamic World." In Digital Humanities 2019 Conference Papers (9-12 July 2019). Utrecht University, 2019 >>

  • 2019c pr, oa: Romanov, Maxim, Masoumeh Seydi, James Ballie, Karl Grossner, and Rainer Simon. "Orbis-in-a-Box (OIB): Modeling Historical Geographical Networks (Poster)." In Digital Humanities 2019 Conference Papers (9-12 July 2019). Utrecht University, 2019. >> >> Poster.

  • 2019b (pr): "1001 Morphological Pattern: Algorithmically Generated Materials for Teaching Classical Arabic", [(Title in Russian) Innovations and Traditions in Arabic and Islamic Studies: a Festschrift in honor of Professor Oleg I. Red’kin]. St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg University Press, pp. 262-274 >> ISBN: 978-5-288-05919-3 >> Download PDF

  • 2019a (pr): (*—equal contribution: Yonatan Belinkov*, Alexander Magidow*, Alberto Barrón-Cedeño, Avi Shmidman, and Maxim Romanov) “Studying the History of the Arabic Language: Language Technology and a Large-Scale Historical Corpus.” Language Resources and Evaluation (LREV), April (2019), Springer (ISSN: 1574-020X (Print) 1574-0218 (Online). >> DOI: >> Download Accepted Version (PDF)

  • 2018b pr: “A Digital Humanities for Premodern Islamic History,” an Essay in the Roundtable on Digital Humanities in International Journal of Middle East Studies 50, no. 1 (2018), pp. 129–34 (Cambridge University Press) >> DOI: 10.1017/S0020743817001015 >> Download PDF

  • 2018a pr: (Authors, alphabetically: Miller, Matthew Thomas, Maxim G. Romanov, and Sarah Bowen Savant). “Digitizing the Textual Heritage of the Premodern Islamicate World: Principles and Plans,” an Essay in the Roundtable on Digital Humanities in International Journal of Middle East Studies 50, no. 1 (2018), pp. 103–9 (Cambridge University Press) >> DOI: 10.1017/S0020743817000964 >> Download PDF

  • 2017d pr, oa: “Algorithmic Analysis of Medieval Arabic Biographical Collections,” in Speculum 92 (S1), pp. S226–46. >> DOI: 10.1086/693970 >> Download PDF

  • 2017c pr: “Observations of a Medieval Quantitative Historian?”, in Der Islam, Volume 94, Issue 2, pp. 462–495, >> DOI: 10.1515/islam-2017-0028 >> Download PDF

  • 2017b pr, oa: (Authors, alphabetically: Kiessling, Benjamin, Matthew Thomas Miller, Maxim Romanov, and Sarah Bowen Savant. “Important New Developments in Arabographic Optical Character Recognition (OCR).” Al-ʿUṣūr Al-Wusṭá (The Journal of Middle East Medievalists) 25: 1–13. >> The article is in open access at: >> Download PDF

  • 2017a (pr): (Authors: Seydi, Masoumeh, Maxim Romanov, and Chiara Palladino) “Premodern Geographical Description: Data Retrieval and Identification.” In Proceedings of the 11th Workshop on Geographic Information Retrieval, 4:1–4:10. GIR’17, 1–10. New York, NY, USA: ACM Press. >> DOI: 10.1145/3155902.3155911 >> Download PDF

  • 2016 (pr): (Authors, alphabetically: Yonatan Belinkov, Alexander Magidow, Maxim Romanov, Avi Shmidman, and Moshe Koppel ) “Shamela: A Large-Scale Historical Arabic Corpus”, in Proceedings of the Workshop on Language Technology Resources and Tools for Digital Humanities (LT4DH), pp. 45–53, Osaka, Japan, December 11-17 2016. >> Available at: >> Download PDF

  • 2016c pr: “After the Classical World: the Social Geography of Islam (c. 600—1300 CE)”, in ARS ISLAMICA: Festschrift in Honor of Stanislav Mikhailovich Prozorov. Edited by Mikhail Piotrovsky and Alikber Alikberov, Russian Academy of Sciences (Institute of Oriental Studies), Moscow: “Vostochnaya Literatura”, 2016, pp. 247–277 >> Download PDF

  • 2016b (pr): “Digital Age, Digital Methods”, in ARS ISLAMICA: Festschrift in Honor of Stanislav Mikhailovich Prozorov. Edited by Mikhail Piotrovsky and Alikber Alikberov, Russian Academy of Sciences (Institute of Oriental Studies), Moscow: “Vostochnaya Literatura”, 2016, pp. 129–156 >> Download PDF

  • 2016a pr: “Toward Abstract Models for Islamic History,” in The Digital Humanities + Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies, ed. Elias Muhanna (Berlin, De Gruyter, 2016), pp. 117–149. >> ISBN: 978-3-11-037454-4 >> Download PDF

  • 2014 (pr): “Toward the Digital History of the pre-Modern Muslim World: developing text-mining techniques for the study of Arabic biographical collections,” in Analysis of Ancient and Medieval Texts and Manuscripts: Digital Approaches, ed. Tara L Andrews and Caroline Macé (Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2014), 229–44 >> DOI: 10.1484/M.LECTIO-EB.5.102573 >> Download PDF

  • 2013 (pr): Computational Reading of Arabic Biographical Collections with Special Reference to Preaching in the Sunnī World (661-1300 CE). Ph.D. dissertation, University of Michigan, 2013. Available at:

  • 2012 (pr): “Dreaming Ḥanbalites: Dream-Tales in Prosopographical Dictionaries,” in Dreams and Visions in Islamic Societies, ed. Alexander Knysh & Özgen Felek, (SUNY Press, 2012), 31–50 >> ISBN: 978-1-4384-3993-8 >> Download PDF

  • 2007 (pr): “The Term Ṣūfī: Spiritualizing Simple Words,” in Pismennyie Pamyatniki Vostoka/Written Monuments of the Orient, issue 5 (2007), 149–159 >> Download PDF

  • 2005 (pr): [In Russian] “Electronic Databases on Islam in Arabic, Persian & English: a Review,” in Pismennyie Pamyatniki Vostoka/Written Monuments of the Orient, issue 2(3), 2005, 240–257; in cooperation with Dr. Stanislav M. Prozorov; summary in English >> Download PDF

  • 2004 (pr): [In Russian] “The Paradigm of the Science of Ḥadīṯ (ʿilm/ʿulūm al-ḥadīṯ)”, in Oriens/Vostok, issue 5, 2004, 5–11; summary in English >> Download PDF

  • Ḥadīṯ Reports in Ibn al-Ǧawzī’s (d. 597/1201) System of Argumentation (Based on His Talbīs Iblīs [“Devil’s Delusions”]),” in Khristianskii Vostok/Christian Orient, Volume 5 (XI), New Series, Moscow: “Indrik” Press (Published by the Russian Academy of Sciences and the State Hermitage), 2009, 310–316 >> Download PDF >> NB: Accepted for publication in 2003

  • 2003a (pr): [in Russian] “Principles & Procedures of Extracting and Processing Data from Arabic Sources: Historic-and-Biographical Sources,” in Oriens/Vostok, issue 4, 2003, 117–127; in cooperation with Dr. Stanislav M. Prozorov; summary in English >> Download PDF


DH Scholarship (6)

  • (DH)2019a– 2019–: The Open Islamicate Texts Initiative Arabic-script OCR Catalyst Project (OpenITI AOCP). The project is led by Matthew Thomas Miller (Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at U of Maryland—College Park (UMD), USA), Maxim Romanov (U Vienna, Austria), Sarah Bowen Savant (Aga Khan U, UK), David Smith (Northeastern U, USA), and Raffaele Viglianti (MITH at UMD, USA). OpenITI AOCP is developing an OCR pipeline and post-correction interface as a user-friendly digital text production pipeline with a wide range of new OCR enhancements and expanded text export functionality. Since June 2019 the project is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ($800,000 grant). See:

  • (DH)2014c– 2014–: Open Islamicate Texts Initiative Corpus (OpenITI; during 2014-2016: OpenArabic). Co-PIs (alphabetically): Matthew T. Miller (UMD); Maxim Romanov (UV); Sarah Bowen Savant (AKUU–London). Covering the period of c. 750–1950, OpenITI includes about 4,300 unique book titles (95% in Arabic) by over 1,800 authors, which amounts to approximately 750 million words (1,46 billion words with all versions). For a detailed description: >> Official release DOI: doi:10.5281/zenodo.3082464 >> Suggested citation: Maxim Romanov, and Masoumeh Seydi. “OpenITI: A Machine-readable Corpus of Islamicate Texts”. Zenodo, May 20, 2019. doi:10.5281/zenodo.3082464.

  • (DH)2014b– 2014–: OpenITI mARkdown (AR stands for Arabic) is a simple system for tagging structural, morphological and semantic elements in texts in order to make them machine-readable. Detailed description:

  • (DH)2016– 2016–: NgramReader+ for the Classical Arabic Corpus is designed to trace word usage over time (similarly to Google Ngram Viewer). The online version uses single tokens (1grams) from the OpenITI corpus. Suggested citation: Maxim Romanov. (2020) OpenITI NgramReader+ (Version 2020.1). [Software + Data set]. Zenodo: doi:10.5281/zenodo.3725855

  • (DH)2014a– 2014–: al-Ṯurayyā Project is designed to help us better understand spatial connections within the Islamic world, to visually study geographical and travel literature, and, most importantly, to study ample data from biographical collections by tracing geographies of different social and religious groups. The project includes the gazetteer (al-Ṯurayyā Gazetteer, or al-Thurayyā Gazetteer), and the geospatial model of the early Islamic world. Published at

  • (DH)2015 2015: Classical Arabic Through the Words of the Prophet: A Frequency-Based Ḥadīṯ Reader. This is a computationally generated selection of teaching materials designed to provide effective introduction to the language of Ḥadīṯ, a prominent genre of classical Arabic literature (Perseus Project & Departments of Classics; Tufts University, 2015) >> Download PDF

Monographs (/1)

  • 2021 (under contract): A Digital Humanities for Arabic & Islamic Studies. Brill (expected 2021). Note: The book presents the digital turn as one in the line of many that had a similarly dramatic impact on the development of both the Arabic written tradition and the ways we study it; the book offers a broad overview of relevant digital humanities approaches and argues for the importance of the new digital medium and new digital methods for the qualitative shift in the development of the field.

Conference & workshop presentations (selected; total: 43)

  • December, 2020: France (online): “OpenITI mARkdown: Between Method and Standard” @ Étudier et publier les textes arabes avec le numérique, GIS Asie, études africaines et Moyen-Orient et mondes musulmans. December 8-10, 2020.

  • October, 2020: USA (online): “One Source to Rule Them All: Constructing the Master Chronicle for Islamic History” @ Middle East Studies Association 54rd Annual Meeting, October 5-17, [Online], USA.

  • October, 2020: USA (online): “Big Data and Mega Corpora in the Middle East Studies: The Case of Arabic Written Tradition” @ Middle East Studies Association 54rd Annual Meeting, October 5-17, [Online], USA.

  • August, 2020: Germany (online): “Digital Humanities with non-European sources: The Case of Arabic” @ “Hack the Middle East”: n Introduction to Digital Humanities, an Online Workshop, Die Junge Akademie, August 11-12, 2020;

  • July, 2020: Germany (online): “OpenITI” @ Digitalisierungsworkshop der orientalistischen Fächer BA/ER (Workshop on Digital Tools in Oriental Studies BA/ER), Universität Bamberg & Universität Erlangen, July 4, 2020

  • November, 2019: USA: “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed: Computational Analysis of Writing Practices of Islamic Scholars" @ Middle East Studies Association 53rd Annual Meeting, November 14-17, New Orleans, LA, USA.

  • October, 2019: UK: “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed: Computational Analysis of Writing Practices of Islamic Scholars" @ Arabic Pasts: Histories and Historiography, 17-19 October 2019, Aga Khan University, London.

  • July, 2019: the Netherlands: “Open Islamicate Texts Initiative: A Machine-Readable Corpus of Texts Produced in the Premodern Islamicate World” (poster) @ Digital Humanities 2019, Utrecht University, July 9-12 (In collaboration with: Matthew Thomas Miller, Sarah Bowen Savant, and Masoumeh Seydi)

  • July, 2019: the Netherlands: “al-Ṯurayyā, the Gazetteer and the Geo-Spatial Model of the Early Islamic World” @ Digital Humanities 2019, Utrecht University, July 9-12 (In collaboration with: Masoumeh Seydi, who also presented)

  • July, 2019: the Netherlands: “Orbis-in-a-box (OIB): Modeling Historical Geographical Networks” (poster) @ Digital Humanities 2019, Utrecht University, July 9-12 (In collaboration with: Masoumeh Seydi, James Ballie, Karl Grossner, and Riner Simon)

  • June, 2019: Japan: “Computational Historiography: al-Ḏahabī’s Taʾrīḫ al-islām and His Sources” @ Sixth Conference of the School of Mamluk Studies, Tokyo, Japan, June 15-17 2019 (presented over Skype)

  • April, 2019: Russia: “Interconnectedness of Texts and Computational Modeling of the Arabic Written tradition” (in Russian: “Преемственность текстов и компьютерное моделирование арабской письменной традиции”) @ The 41st Annual Session of St Petersburg Arabists, The Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences. April 8-10, 2019.

  • February, 2019: UK: “Modeling Society from Text: a Method in Arabic Studies” @ Decoding the Past. Digital Tools for the Analysis of Historical Data, a Workshop, Institute of Classical Studies, Senate House, University of London, February 21-22 2019

  • December, 2018: Spain: “al-Ḏahabī’s treatment of his Andalusi sources: toward understanding of compilation methods of medieval historians” @ The Maghrib in the Mashriq (i.e.: Islamic West in Islamic East), a congress, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Madrid, 20-21 December 2018 (organized by Maribel Fierro (ILC-CSIC) & Mayte Penelas (EEA-CSIC))

  • December, 2018: the Netherlands: “Prospects of Corpus-Based Research: Computational Methods and the OpenITI Corpus” @ Whither Islamicate Digital Humanities, Academy Colloquium, The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam, 13-15 December 2018 (organized by Christian Lange & Melle Lyklema, Utrecht University)

  • May, 2018: Italy: “Modeling Arabic Written Tradition: Enhancing Traditional Text analysis with Computational Techniques” @ Launching RASCIO: Reader, Author, Scholar in Context of Information Overflow, a Workshop organized by Dr. Élise Franssen, Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia, May 24, 2018

  • November, 2017: USA: “Looking for the author behind the words: Stylometric Analysis of al-Ḏahabī’s (d. 1347) Writings” @ A New Corpus for the Islamicate World and Methods for Its Exploration, a Panel co-organized by Sarah Savant and Matthew Miller @ Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.

  • October, 2017: Austria: “Modeling Social History of the Premodern Islamic World” @ Evolution of Social Complexity, a Workshop organized by Complexity Science Hub Vienna, October 2-3, 2017

  • September, 2017: Spain: “Digital Humanities in the field of Islamic studies” @ Digital Humanities & the History of al-Andalus and the Maghreb: Challenges and Opportunities, a Research Seminar @ Escuela de Estudios Árabes—Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Cuesta del Chapiz, 22, Granada

  • May, 2017: Italy: “Why do we need a corpus and computational methods?” @ Navigating the House of Wisdom: How to write a good book in the medieval Middle East, a Workshop at the University of Milan, May 25th-26th 2017.

  • April, 2017: United Arab Emirates: “Algorithmic Analysis of Premodern Arabic Biographical Collections: Approach, Infrastructure, Open Data” @ Digital Humanities Abu Dhabi – DHAD, a Workshop @ New York University Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 10-12 April 2017

  • December, 2016: Spain: “An Accidental Gazetteer: Linked Data for Historical Geography of the Classical Islamic World” @ Linked Pasts 2016, a symposium series dedicated to facilitating practical and pragmatic developments in Linked Open Data in History, Classics, Geography and Archaeology, December 15-16, 2016 (hosted at: Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid).

  • November, 2016: USA: “Of A Network and A Node: ‘The History of Islam’ of al-Ḏahabī (d. 1348) and its place in the Premodern Arabic Textual Tradition” @ Networked Texts: New Ways of Seeing the Arabic Textual Tradition (750-1500), a Panel co-organized by Sarah Savant and Maxim Romanov @ Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Annual Meeting, Boston, MA

  • October, 2015: USA: “al-Ḏahabī’s Monster”: Dissecting a 50-Volume Arabic Chronicle-cum-Biographical Collection From the 14th Century CE @ Distant Reading & the Islamic Archive, Conference at Brown University (October 16, 2015)

  • September, 2015: UK: The Taʾrīḫ al-islām of al-Ḏahabī (d. 748/1347 CE): Computational Exploration of the Life-Cycle of a 50-Volume Arabic Chronicle-cum-Biographical Collection @ Arabic Pasts: Histories and Historiographies: Research Workshop, co-hosted by the Aga Khan University, Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations and SOAS, University of London (September 25–26, 2015)

  • July, 2015: USA: Cultural Production in the Islamic World (600–1900 CE): mining an Ottoman bibliographical collection from the early 20th century @ The Keystone Digital Humanities Conference, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA (July 22–24, 2015)

  • May, 2015: USA: Analyzing Arabic Biographical Collections at Scale @ Digital Ottoman Platform Workshop, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ (June 8–12, 2015)

  • May, 2015: USA: The Writing Culture of Nīshāpūr in the 11th Century [In collaboration with Sarah Savant, Aga Khan University, London; paper delivered by Sarah Savant] @ Iranian Cities from the Arab Conquest to the Early Modern Period, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (May 1-2).

  • November, 2014: USA: Exploring Islamic Written Legacy: Computational Reading of Hadiyyaŧ al-ʿārifīn @ Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C.

  • March, 2014: USA: Computational Processing of Toponymic Data from classical Arabic Sources @ Working with Text in a Digital Age, A Workshop @ Tufts University (the Perseus Project) (March 29, 2014). 

  • February, 2014: USA: Visualizing Islamic Geography at Scale @ Data Big and Small: Computer Science, the Humanities and Social Science: Conversations between representatives from Leipzig, Northeastern, Princeton & Tufts, A Workshop @ Tufts University (the Perseus Project) (February 3-4, 2014).

  • October, 2013: USA: Abstract Models for Islamic History @ Digital Humanities and Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies, Brown University, Providence, RI (October 24-25, 2013). 

  • October, 2013: USA: Islamic World Connected (661–1300 CE) @ Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA.

  • March, 2013: USA: Exploratory Analysis of Arabic Biographical Collections: the Case of al-Ḏahabī’s (d. 1347 CE) Taʾrīkh al-islām @ 223rd Meeting of the American Oriental Society (AOS), Portland, OR;

  • November, 2012: USA: Social History of the Muslim World in the Digital Age: Making Sense of 29,000 Biographies from al-Ḏahabī’s “History of Islam” @ Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Annual Meeting, Denver, CO.

  • November, 2012: USA: Poster: Social History of the Muslim World in the Digital Age: Making Sense of 29,000 Biographies from al-Ḏahabī’s “History of Islam” @ Cyberinfrastructure Days, U of Michigan, November 7-8, 2012. “People’s Choice Award Winner”.

  • August, 2012: USA: Mining pre-Modern Islamic Sources @ “Working with Text in a Digital Age,” the summer institute at Tufts U, Medford, MA.

  • April, 2012: Russia: Dreaming Ḥanbalites: Dream-Tales in Prosopographical Dictionaries (in Russian) @ The 34th Annual Session of St. Petersburg Arabists, SPbIOS/IOM of RAS.

  • April, 2012: Belgium: Digital History of the Muslim World: Computer-Aided Analysis of Biographical Dictionaries @ “Methods and means for digital analysis of ancient and medieval texts and manuscripts,” the workshop at the Katholieke Universitet, Leuven & the Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium (KVAB), Brussels.

Invited talks, guest lectures, keynotes (selected; total: 41)

  • November, 2020: Austria: “Computational History and Historiography of the Medieval Islamic World”, an invited lecture in 070227-1 Introduction to Digital Humanities (2020W), taught by Tara Andrews, University of Vienna, November 24, 2020

  • November, 2020: Austria: “Data Science & Digital Humanities: Modeling Arabic Written Tradition”, an invited lecture in 040172 VU Doing Data Science (MA) (2020W), taught by Jan Fabian Ehmke & Yllka Velaj, University of Vienna, January 7, 2020

  • January, 2020: Austria: “Algorithmic Analysis into Social History: A Case of Medieval Islamic History”, an invited lecture in 070227 VO Introduction to Digital Humanities (2019W), taught by Tara Andrews, University of Vienna, January 7, 2020

  • September, 2019: Spain: “The Marvels of Old in the Digital World”: Toward the Methodological Turn in Middle Eastern Studies @ Knowledge and Power Seminar Series, Centro de Ciencias Humanas y Sociales, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (September 12) — Madrid, Spain

  • Keynote: May, 2019: Lebanon: “Digital Dust of the Arabic Past”: Corpus-Based Research in Arabic & Islamic Studies, keynote @ Digital Humanities Institute 2019 (May 3-5) — Beirut, Lebanon

  • April, 2019: Russia: Arabic History & Historiography in the Digital Age, invited lecture @ Higher School of Economics, St.Petersburg

  • February, 2019: Hungary: Arabic History & Historiography in the Digital Age, invited lecture @ Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies and OTTOCONFESSIONS, ERC-funded Project (PI Dr. Tijana Krstic), Central European University, Budapest

  • Keynote: April 17, 2018: Qatar: “Iftaḥ Yā Simsim!” Finding Digital Keys to the Treasures of the Arabic Written Tradition, keynote @ “Research Data Management in Digital Humanities”, International Conference, University College London—Doha, Qatar, April 17-18, 2018

  • February 6, 2018: Austria: “Open Sesame!” Digital Analysis of the Arabic Written Tradition: Part I—On Social History, at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna

  • May 11, 2017: the Netherlands: The Corpus, The Network, & The Book Continuum, the fifth lecture of the KITAB LUCIS lectures (others given by Sarah Savant), Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society, Leiden University

  • May 10, 2017: the Netherlands: Computational Reading of Arabic Biographical Collections, Invited Lecture @ The Leiden University Centre for Digital Humanities (LUCDH), Leiden University

  • 2017: Germany: Arabic Written Tradition & the Digital Humanities, Invited Lecture @ Universität Hamburg (April 24, 2017) Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main (March 24, 2017)

  • February 20, 2017: USA: Premodern Arabic Biographical Collections: A Digital Approach, Invited Lecture @ University of Pennsylvania

  • November 17, 2016: USA: From Text to Map: Arabic Biographical Collections and Geospatial Analysis Invited Lecture, @ Center for Geographic Analysis, Harvard University

  • 2016: USA: Writing a 50-volume book in 14th-century Damascus: Algorithmic Analysis, Text Reuse & the Arabic Written Tradition. Different versions of this invited lecture: Davidson College (November 9, 2016) University of Michigan (March 10, 2016)

  • 2015–2016: USA, Germany, UK: Of Graphs, Maps, and 30,000 Muslims: Premodern Arabic Texts & the Digital Humanities. Different versions of this invited lecture: Center for Digital Humanities/Department of History, University of South Carolina (November 14, 2016) Duke University (November 11, 2016) University of Tübingen (May 11, 2016) University of Maryland [MITH] (March 2, 2016), for more details: University of St Andrews (November 27, 2015) University of Manchester (November 25, 2015) School of Oriental and African Studies [SOAS], University of London (November 23, 2015)

  • June 1, 2016: Germany: Future in the Past: Using Modern Computational Methods for the Analysis of Premodern Arabic Texts, guest lecture @ “Society and Religion in the Arab World” (an introductory Arabic and Islamic Studies seminar taught by Marie Hakenberg), Leipzig University

  • April 26, 2016: Germany/USA: Discovering Spatial and Chronological Patterns in Historical Texts, invited lecture @ Unlocking the Digital Humanities, A Seminar organized by Leipzig University & Tufts University, Spring 2016

  • December, 2015: USA, the Netherlands: Arabic and Islamic Studies and the Digital Humanities @ The Brill Workshop on the Digital Humanities (December 2-3, Leiden; May 1-2, Boston)

    March, 2015: USA/Lebanon:

  • February, 2015: USA: Digital Humanities & the Premodern Islamic World: Of Graphs, Maps, and 30,000 Muslims. invited public lecture @ the University of California—Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA (February 25, 2015). For more details, see information on the website of The Gustav E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies at UCLA.

  • August, 2014: USA: The Social Geography of the Islamic World (661–1300 CE): on the Method, invited talk @ PROSOP Workshop, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL (August 15, 2014). See,

  • April, 2014: USA: The Social Geography of the Islamic World (661–1300 CE), invited talk @ the University of Richmond, Richmond, VA (April 10, 2014)

  • February, 2014: USA: Connectedness of the Islamic World (661–1300 CE), invited talk @ the European Union Center of Excellence & European Studies Center, the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA (February, 20, 2014)

  • 2014: USA: Computational Reading of Classical Arabic Sources: the Case of Biographical Collections, invited talk @ Department of Classics, Tufts University (March 10, 2014). Bard College, Annadale-on-Hudson, NY (February 11, 2014) The Center for Digital Research in the Humanities (CDRH) at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL), Lincoln, NE (January 30, 2014).

Projects and collaborations (selected)

  • 2016—2020: Local Contexts and Global Dynamics: al-Andalus and the Maghreb in the Islamic East, a project led by Dr. Maribel Fierro (CSIC, Madrid) and Dr. Mayte Penelas (CSIC, Escuela de Estudios Árabes, Granada). The project is funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (FFI2016-78878-R).

  • Finished & retired projects:

  • 2015—2017: OpenArabic Project. The goal of the project is to build a machine-actionable corpus of premodern texts in Arabic to encourage computational analysis of the Arabic written tradition. The project is now merged into the Open ITI and represents about 97% of its texts.

  • 2013–2015: Studying Classical Arabic Legacy @ Tufts University together with Gregory Crane @ Department of Classics & Perseus Project.

Teaching: Classes (2006–2020)

  • Historical Methods, DH: DH Methods: Historical Inquiries with R, [SE Seminar (PM 3)], University of Vienna  >> Spring/Summer 2020 (Text Analysis Module) >> Spring/Summer 2019 >> Fall/Winter 2017-2018

  • DH: Tools and Techniques for Digital Humanities, [KU Methodenkurs], University of Vienna >> Fall/Winter 2020 >> Spring/Summer 2019 >> Spring/Summer 2018

  • History: Of Arabs, Persians and Turks: Patterns of Dynastic Rule in the Islamic World (c.600-1600 CE), [MA-Proseminar], University of Vienna, Spring/Summer 2018

  • History: The Near East at the time of the First Crusade, 1045 -1144, [BA-Proseminar], co-taught with Tara Andrews, University of Vienna >> Fall/Winter 2017-2018

  • History: The medieval Near East and Europe according to Muslims, Christians, and Jews: comparative perspectives, [Seminar], co-taught with Tara Andrews, University of Vienna >> Fall/Winter 2017-2018

  • Islamicate Texts, DH: Islamicate World 2.0: Studying Islamic Cultures through Computational Textual Analysis. ( @ the U of Maryland (College Park) and the Leipzig U, Fall/Winter 2016-7; co-taught with Matthew Miller (UMD).

  • GIS, DH: From Text to Map, A two-week intensive introduction (32 contact hours) to a variety f ways of thinking about and working with humanities data in digital mapping environments; co-taught with David J. Wrisley, American University of Beirut @ “Culture & Technology”—The European Summer University in Digital Humanities, Leipzig University, Summer 2016 (

  • Classical Language, Religion, DH: Classical Arabic Through the Words of the Prophet (Introduction to Classical Arabic through the Corpus of Ḥadīṯ), Tufts University, Spring 2015

  • Digital Humanities, Methods: Introduction to Text Mining for the Students of Humanities, Tufts University, Spring 2015; (also as an independent study with two students: Tufts University, Fall 2014)

  • History, Digital Humanities: Mapping the Classical Islamic World, Tufts University, Winter 2014; Digital Project: Mapping Data from al-Muqaddasī’s geographical treatise (10th century CE)

  • History, DH: The First Millennium of the Islamic Near East 600–1600 CE, U of Michigan, Fall 2012 (as a teaching assistant); Digital Project: Timemaps

  • Religion, History: Introduction to Islam, U of Michigan: Spring 2011, Winter 2011 (as a teaching assistant), Spring 2010

  • Language: Elementary Modern Standard Arabic, U of Michigan: Fall 2010, Fall/Winter 2009–2010, Fall/Winter 2008–2009, Fall/Winter 2007–2008

  • Classical Language: Elementary Classical Arabic, U of Michigan, Fall/Winter 2006–2007

Teaching: Workshops (selected)

  • July 2018: A 3-day intensive course in Digital Islamic Humanities @ Ghent University, July 2-4, 2018 (in collaboration with the Ghent Centre for Digital Humanities). For the detailed plan and materials, see:

  • November 2017: Workshop on Digital Humanities in Islamic and Arabic Studies @ SENSIS ERC Project, PI Dr. Christian Lange, Utrecht University, November 30-December 1, 2017. For details, see:

  • February 2015: Digital Humanities & Islamic Studies @ the University of California, Los Angeles. Organized by Asma Sayeed & The Gustav E. von Grunebaum Center for Near Eastern Studies at UCLA.

  • October 2014: Textual Corpora and the Digital Islamic Humanities @ Brown University as a session leader together with Elli Mylonas; organized by Elias Muhanna. For details:

Organizing: Workshops, Panels, Roundtables (selected)

  • Stylometry Workshop with Maciej Eder, Department of History, University of Vienna & The KITAB Project, Aga Khan University, London. July 1-3, 2020.

  • July 2018: ORBIS-esque Hackathon, Department of History, University of Vienna (co-organized with Tara Andrews and Mária Varga); planning document:

  • November 2017: A New Corpus for the Islamicate World and Methods for Its Exploration, a Panel co-organized with Dr. Sarah Savant (AKU–London) and Dr. Matthew Thomas Miller (UMD) at MESA, Washington, DC–2017

  • November 2016: Networked Texts: New Ways of Seeing the Arabic Textual Tradition (750-1500), a Panel co-organized with Dr. Sarah Savant (AKU–London), MESA, Boston–2016

  • December 2015: Digital Arabic and Digital Persian Research Workshop @ Leipzig University, organized by Maxim Romanov (within the framework of Leipzig Workshop Week, 14–18 December 2015).

  • November, 2013: Digital Humanities in Middle East Studies (organized together with Børre Ludvigsen and Will Hanley), a series of two panels and a roundtable: “Traditional Sources, Nontraditional Methods,” “Digital Communication,” and Roundtable at the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), New Orleans 2013.

Fellowships, grants, awards & honors received (selected)

  • F2015–W2016 (declined): Research Fellowship (Visiting Fellow) at Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School, Harvard University.

  • F2012–S2013: Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

  • Summer 2013: Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh Scholarship Award in Islamic Studies, U of Michigan.

  • W2012–S2012: Rackham Humanities Research Fellowship, U of Michigan.

Natural languages

  • Russian native | Arabic advanced modern standard & classical | English near-native | German reading knowledge | French reading knowledge | Indonesian reading knowledge | Persian basic

Formal languages and computer skills

  • Python, R, LaTeX, QGIS, Cluster Computing

Professional membership

  • 2016–present: Middle East Medievalists (MEM)

  • 2012–present: American Oriental Society (AOS)

  • 2008–present: Middle East Studies Association (MESA)

Dissertation: From Introduction

My dissertation is a project in the digital humanities. Over the past few years “digital humanities” became an extremely overused buzzword, and one often gets a feeling that, as a Russian saying goes, only the lazy do not speak of themselves as digital humanists. For this reason, some clarifications are in order. The digital humanities still remains a vaguely defined field and DH studies range widely from theoretical inquiries into possible effects of technological developments on the humanities at large to the development and application of digital methods to traditional sources. While the prevailing majority of digital humanists prefer to contribute to the area of theoretical inquiries, this dissertation is primarily about studying traditional sources with non-traditional methods.

The initial plan was to write a dissertation on the history of “public preaching” (waʿẓ). My sociological background and my overall interest in Arabic biographical literature, which was firmly instilled in me by my Russian mentor Professor Stanislav M. Prozorov, steered me toward the history of “public preaching” through the analysis of biographical collections. In order to study preachers as a social group it was necessary to study all their biographies. Unfortunately, conventional close reading was of little help and a different method was necessary. In order to understand how this social group fitted into Islamic society, it was necessary to know what Islamic society was, i.e. it was necessary to study all other biographies as well. Only this would allow to place preachers into a wider context of Islamic society as it is represented on the pages of biographical collections. This also required a different method.

Graduate students in our field often learn additional languages of the Islamicate world in order to advance their research. In order to solve my methodological issues I needed not a different language, but a different kind of language—a language that would allow me to work with texts in a radically different manner. It so happened that learning scripting languages—in my case Python and R—was the answer. These formal languages indeed allow one to read texts in a completely different way, no matter in what language they are, and no matter how long they are. They enhance and augment our ability to read by allowing us to work with practically unlimited volumes of text. They allowed me to pull together almost 30,000 biographies from al-Ḏahabī’s Taʾrīḫ al-islām, the largest biographical collection that became the backbone of my study, and start studying them as a whole.

Since digital methods have not yet entered the domain of Islamic studies, the first part of the dissertation offers a detailed explanation of “computational reading” that has been developed over the past two years. This method is built upon existing digital techniques and approaches that were picked from a variety of disciplines and adapted to the analysis of Arabic biographical collections. I fully realize that the reader might find the exposition of the method painfully technical, but since the method is essential for the entire study and largely unprecedented, its inner workings must be explained in sufficient details. Most importantly, I hope that this part will provide young scholars who are willing to step into the still uncharted terrain of digital methods of textual analysis with a desperately needed road map. Something that I, to my own misfortune, did not have.

The first part is also meant to be a step toward finding a viable approach for studying the vast digital corpus of classical Islamic texts which keeps on growing practically by the minute. If Islamicists do not find a way to deal with this big issue, eventually someone else will. In this light it is worth drawing attention to an experimental study conducted by a group of information scientists. Published in an American academic journal, this “computer study of the reliability of Arabic stories” attempts to evaluate the reliability of chains of transmitters (sing. isnād) in Prophetic reports (sing. ḥadīṯ) using contemporary information reliability theories. Although these scientists are far from producing anything as appealing to reading public as, for example, Guns, Germs, and Steel, there are no reasons to believe that our field will forever remain immune to those who might want to follow in the footsteps of Jared Diamond, a biologist-turn-historian.

The second part is on modeling. Extracted with digital methods, “big data” still need to be re-organized in some coherent manner in order to be useful for analysis. Modeling is a way to achieve this. As clearly defined systems of assumptions about different kinds of data and their interrelations, models are designed to provide explanations for complex processes. Thus, this part models big data extracted from al-Ḏahabī’s Taʾrīḫ al-islām to further our understanding of the social geography of the Islamic world and major social transformations that the Muslim community underwent in the course of its early history. Although largely a road map for further research, this part provides an important chronological, geographical and social background for the last part of the dissertation.

The third part is an application of the devised method to the study of Islamic preaching. It focuses on an exploratory overview of all major forms of Islamic preaching as they feature on the electronic pages of my corpus that covers about 700 years of Islamic history. Partially determined by the current state of the development of computational reading, this part studies the major forms of Islamic preaching from chronological, geographical and social perspectives that have been largely overlooked in the academic treatment of this subject. The choice of establishing the overview, instead of trying to find answers to particular historical questions, was deliberate. Working with big data makes it abundantly clear that there are too many unknowns and that asking specific questions without knowing what is and what is not in the data only leads to wrong answers. At this stage, “exploratory analysis” is much more crucial than specific inquiries. One of the major goals of this part is also to demonstrate how exactly computational reading can contribute to the studies of specific phenomena and practices in the pre-modern Islamic world.

The three parts of the dissertation build upon each other, but ultimately can be treated as separate studies.