What is the Ajam Digital Archive?
A user-generated and crowd-sourced digital space, the Ajam Digital Archive will promote research by enabling individuals to take part in preserving pieces of 20th century life across the regions we have come to refer to as Ajamistan due to the kinds of historical, cultural, and intellectual connections that have long defined them (for more information on the meaning of the word “Ajam” and the reason we use it to describe these lands, please read “Why Ajam?”).
Family histories tell us how people actually lived and how they experienced the world around them. How people conducted their daily lives, their social, cultural, and political routines, and how those big historical moments and changes affected real people’s lives in small and big ways. The items collected for the Ajam Digital Archive will allow us to document and record history from below—how it was actually lived, experienced, and understood. It is precisely these histories that were ignored in favor of tales that focused exclusively on wars and revolutions, rarely giving us a sense of how life was lived amidst it all.
By serving as an accessible space for objects not traditionally included in historical narratives, the Ajam Digital Archive will allow us all to participate in history-making, weaving together personal and familial stories and doing the work of historians.
Currently, the Ajam Digital Archive is collecting media from a broad geographic region, rather than limiting ourselves to national boundaries, so users can note the shared cultures across Ajam’s geography.
We have also involved members of our communities in our project, and have partnered with Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) to create a grassroots effort in populating the archive. Over the next few months, we look forward to having more fantastic organizations from other parts of Ajamistan join the project.
Thanks to our contributors, the Ajam Digital Archive will launch with a variety of different media, including wedding portraits, religious recordings, personal mementos, family trees, military paraphernalia, and so many other media that we are excited to share with you soon. But you should do more than view these items–if you agree with our vision, we are asking you to participate and contribute what you can.