Lesvos Island, Greece (2015/2016) – refugees trekking after boat landing.

I came across a blog titled “A Guide to Online Visual Sources in Middle East, North Africa, and Islamic Studies” which was not only relevant to this fellowship but proved to be quite interesting. The post website addressed my personal goal, which is to illustrate the idea that images can aid in education and awareness. Specifically, it looked at digitized images representing art and archives across the Middle East which was beautifully done. Having a transnational connection to the region of the Middle East, I was personally happy to see this digitized archival project which can appeal to architects, historians, and philanthropists. The website is set up with summaries and geographical titles linked to other web pages similar to museum collections.

This fun find inspired me even more about knowledge production through a virtual journey. Seeing how productive the guided layout of visual sources in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region provided a glimpse of how useful digital methodologies really are. Of course, other sources have proved this; however, taking a more regional approach is something I have been nervous about because of the technological element to navigate a suitable and creative website.

This methodological practice can be extended to creating a platform for understanding the economy, urbanization, globalization, and trade in the region. For example, if there are trade restrictions between particular borders due to political tension, a geographical digitized project can provide a way to facilitate better information for other world cities who are interacting within these global systems.

As someone who is interested in conflicts in the Middle East and the migration flows that follow that, I hope that I can offer images and a way to map out the events of such a complex political situation, which is both difficult to grasp and not simply a black or white situation. Now, this might not make people understand the full context or complexity of the regional conflict. However, I do believe that digitizing a map of images with description will allow more accessibility to the conflicts occurring (border restrictions, blockades, raids, migration flows, and refugee living).  This can become more accessible for different sectors, including education programs policy makers/political scientists, and advocacy initiatives. 

We often see digital learning projects for historic events like World War II and the Great Depression. However, how can we link and boost that in ongoing current events in the world? The use of digital media can be applied to peace building and conflict resolution just as social media served as the connectivity to spark awareness during the Arab Spring in 2011. Moving knowledge across time and space has been a benefit with the support of social media. However, being able to be innovative and do more with digital projects than just updating the world with a click of a button can support and grow the connectivity with applied practice and a spread in knowledge of ongoing events. Personally, I am interested in mapping out migration and myriad ways of dwelling as a result of displacement during conflicts. Migration and the politics attached to them are so fluid and remain to raise questions in the global world. I hope that mapping out conflict and displacement can visually raise more awareness to fluid issues.