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Palestinian Digital Archive Gets First Showing

Monday
March 4, 2013
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Birzeit University’s Ibrahim Abu Lughod Institute of International Studies organized on February 20, 2013 a workshop on the Palestinian archive project supported by the BZU Academic Affairs Office and hosted by the institute.

The workshop, entitled “The BZU Palestinian Archive Today and Tomorrow" and which introduced the project, was attended by BZU’s Vice-President for Academic Affairs Adnan Yahya, a number of academics and partners in the project.

Institute Director Abdul Karim Al Barghothi opened the workshop by hailing the project, which is intended to preserve Palestinian cultural heritage, and Birzeit University’s historically central role in preserving Palestinian history.

International Studies Professor and Project Director Roger Heacock discussed the roots of the project launched two years ago. The archive will collect numerous documents and materials available at BZU and elsewhere including outside Palestine, and computerize the records so as to conserve them and prevent their loss. The archived materials will assist researchers in understanding Palestinian society and the lives of Palestinians through organizational collections, private family documents and archival materials collected by individuals.

Researcher Suzan Daana addressed the process of developing the archives, explaining the difficulties faced by the team. "One of the major dilemmas is the absence of public awareness of the importance of a Palestinian archives. Many institutions have refused to cooperate and thus have hindered the process.”

Giving the audience a tour of the archives, researcher Said Badawi demonstrated how to access the archives by the subjects of “refugees,” “cities” and “villages,” various human rights issues, among others. He briefed them on how the materials are classified and can be downloaded.

At the end of the workshop, chaired by Professor of Political Science Lourdes Habash, the audience discussed how to develop the project further, including the issue of duplication of effort, as well as offering praise for the archives and its attempts to save  historical documents frombeing lost.

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