This issue of FOCUS explores, from a number of perspectives, the variety of source materials that can be brought to bear on scholarly research on the Middle East. James Simon discusses a new book by Gavin D. Brockett of Wilfrid Laurier University, which traces the role played by provincial newspapers in shaping a Turkish national identity after the end of the Ottoman Empire. Professor Brockett’s book relies heavily on newspapers from the CRL collections for a street-level view of this process. “Middle Eastern and Islamic Collections at CRL” features some newly acquired collections in this area, from Arabic manuscripts from the British Library and the University of London to British intelligence files on Iraq.
For insights on the momentous recent events in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, historians and public policy researchers will employ new forms of evidence. In “Documenting Revolution in the Middle East,” Roberta Dougherty of the University of Texas surveys the myriad types of records generated by the recent Arab Spring, including web communications and postings on social media. James Simon’s careful analysis of the various efforts to archive ephemeral Web communications identifies the advances, and the limitations, of current best practices in this arena.
Bernard F. Reilly, Jr.