Covid Era Conversations

This collection of resources has been curated by MEM Graduate Student Representatives Aurora González Artigao and Kader Smail. If you would like to suggest additional items for inclusion here, please contact MEM webmaster Theo Beers.

The COVID-19 crisis that began last year forced everyone to stop and stay home for a varying length of time, depending on the side of the world we were on. The pandemic blocked international flights, and schools, universities, and archives closed. As a consequence, the way in which scholars used to interact and share knowledge had to change as well. Suddenly, every event and conversation had to be online, through video calls made from each other’s houses. This list aims to provide a glance at a number of online conferences, meetings, colloquia, and workshops that have taken place globally since the pandemic began. Since nobody had time enough to enjoy all of it, our purpose was to collect as much of the recorded material as possible so that anyone interested might have quick access to some of these activities. We have included not only conferences and webinars that were held during the pandemic, but also online resources that existed previously and have become useful online platforms.

Archaeology & Art History

Khamseen: [English] The platform provides original multimedia content developed by scholars from across the field of Islamic art, which is intended to aid educators in the creation of an interactive learning environment and to contribute to new ways of teaching in general, bringing new voices, perspectives, and materials into our classrooms. The project is spearheaded by Prof. Christiane Gruber at the University of Michigan and a team of six collaborators (Sandy Williams, Yasemin Gencer, Mira Xenia Schwerda, Bihter Esener, Michelle Al-Ferzly, and Ani Kalousdian).

Smarthistory – Arts of Islam: [English] It is a free award-winning digital content that unlocks the expertise of hundreds of leading scholars, making the history of art accessible and engaging to more people, in more places than any other publisher. Although it did not start specifically because of the pandemic, the content has been an important tool for a lot of people during this time.

Global Islamic Archaeology Showcase 2020: [English, Arabic, and Spanish] Organized by the Centre for Islamic Archaeology (CfIA), the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies (IAIS) of the University of Exeter, their Youtube channel includes some of the online conferences that have been recorded.

Conference “El ajuar de la casa andalusí”: [Spanish] Organized by Cristina Camacho and Rafael Valera (University of Córdoba), this conference revolves around the kind of dowry that could be found in the typical Andalusi home. It took place the 27th of May of 2020 and it was recorded and posted online on the official site of Casa Árabe:

The Bodleian Libraries’ Persian arts of the book conference (13-14 July 2021): [English] This conference gathered scholars from around the world with expert curators from Oxford and beyond to reflect on the Persian manuscript tradition. The Bodleian Libraries posted five films on this topic on their Youtube channel:

Hands-On. Eine Diskussionsrunde zur Vermittlung praktischer Fähigkeiten in einer digitalen Welt: [German] Projekt “Virtual Museum Collections of Yemen – Post-Conflict Recovery of Yemeni Museums.” Hands-On-Projekte zielen auf die Vermittlung von Fähigkeiten und Erfahrungen durch eine aktive Teilnahme oder Mitarbeit. Die unmittelbare Nähe zu Lehrenden und Objekten ist dabei unerlässlich, wird aber durch die aktuelle Pandemie erschwert oder sogar unmöglich gemacht. Projekte des ArcHerNet und der ArcHerNet-Partner arbeiten intensiv an Online-Lösungen und der Erarbeitung digitaler Ressourcen, um dieser Situation zu begegnen:


Round-table “Teaching the Medieval as Mediterranean: Re-orienting the Meta-Narrative”: Conversation that took place the 31st of March of 2021 at the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, chaired by Kenneth Baxter Wolf (History, Pomona College), and featuring panelists: Fred Astren (Jewish Studies; San Francisco State), Brian A. Catlos (Religious Studies, University of Colorado Boulder), Thomas Burman (Medieval Studies, Notre Dame University),  Mark Meyerson (History, University of Toronto),  Claire Gilbert (History, Saint Louis University), and Mayte Green-Mercado (History, Rutgers University):

Book chat “Mapping the Middle East” (ISHMap Symposium 2020): This conversation took place online on the 13th of March of 2020, during the International Society for the History of the Map 2020 Symposium. Moderator: Kory Olson; Secretaries: P. de Carvalho, I. Jaber. The books presented were Zayde Antrim, Mapping the Middle East (Reaktion Books, 2018) and Yossef Rapoport, Islamic Maps (Bodleian Library, 2019):

Online Conference “Medina en al-Andalus y en el norte de África: representaciones, creencias y prácticas”: [English] By Maribel Fierro in the 54th Seminar for Arabian Studies, celebrated the 9th of July of 2021. Activity organized by the Asociación Internacional para el Estudio de Arabia (IASA) and Casa Árabe. Posted in Casa Árabe’s Youtube channel:

Conference “Las minorías religiosas en al-Andalus y el problema de la tolerancia”: [Spanish] Talk by Alejandro García Sanjuán, invited by the Asociación Jerezana Amigos del Archivo to explain how was the situation of religious minorities in al-Andalus and the Maghreb. It took place on September 14 of 2020 and it was recorded and posted on their Youtube channel:

Conference “The Trade in Papers Marked with Non-Latin Characters: Anne Regourd”: [English] Aga Khan Library, London hosts the launch of a collective book initiated and edited by Anne Regourd approaches global history through the paper trade. It covers, in addition to a paper used in 14th century Persia, papers used in Africa (Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tunisia) and Asia (the Ottoman Levant, Mecca, Persia, Russia, and Yemen) during the 19th-20th centuries:

Conference session: “Travelling the Silk Road from East to West; How a 14th century Mongol Pilgrim Became the leader of the Church in Iraq”: [English] In this talk, Professor Philip Wood examines the lives of Barsauma and Mark, Christian pilgrims from Mongolia who became important players in the politics of 14th-century Iraq. This session explores the conditions under which long-distance overland travel and the spread of ideas and personnel across Eurasia was possible during this period:

Webinar: “​​Trade, Heritage & Landscape along the Silk Roads” with Michael Jansen, Roland Lin, and Stéphane Pradines: [English] During this session, these scholars discussed the Silk Roads and networks between Asia, Africa, and Europe. The experts focused particularly on the land and maritime routes in Central Asia and the Indian Ocean. With some historical and archaeological examples, the discussants will show how Emporiums, city-States, and thalassocracies were created around commercial networks:

Panel: “The Idea of the Silk Road: Historians Debate and Discuss This Modern Concept”: [English] This session, chaired by Philip Wood, took place online and was posted on the 8th of July of 2021 on the AKU ISMC’s Youtube channel:

Matthew Gabriele’s YouTube Channel: [English] Gabriele is a professor of medieval studies and chair of the Dept. of Religion & Culture at Virginia Tech. He is writing (with David M. Perry) a 1 volume history of the Middle Ages for Harper, entitled “The Bright Ages.” He is also (with Varsha Venkatasubramanian) co-host of the popular webcast “Drinking with Historians.”

Geniza Lab, videos and podcasts: [English] The project on the Geniza that is carried out at Princeton University has a concrete part devoted to disseminate their knowledge. Although it was started before the pandemic, the series of videos and podcasts that the team upload on the Geniza Lab’s website are a useful resource and during the COVID-19 crisis some important conversations have taken place on that platform:

Podcast: DAWLA: New Histories of the Medieval Middle East: [English] This introduces the research being carried out on the historiography of fifteenth-century Egypt and Syria at Ghent University to the broader public. Following a two-part introductory episode which introduces their current ERC project, “The Mamlukisation of the Mamluk Sultanate–II (MMS-II)”, they are going to devote episodes to the historians we’re studying, thinking about their lives and works, what made them tick (or–in the case of one historian–what made him explode his career in spectacular fashion).

Abbasid History Podcast: [English] This is a project inspired by the Ottoman History Podcast. They provide an audio platform for the pre-modern past in the region and beyond.  They interview scholars about their research. The also have conversations with linguists, archivists and artists:

Ottoman History Podcast: [English] A project that began in 2011 and has been growing to be one of the largest digital resources for academic discussion concerning the Ottoman Empire and the modern Middle East. Although it was created way before the pandemic, it has been an important online resource in 2020-2021. In addition, they have a special issue on “Plague in the Ottoman World” (Episode 455), featuring Nükhet Varlık, Yaron Ayalon, Orhan Pamuk, Lori Jones, Valentina Pugliano, and Edna Bonhomme. It was posted on March 19 of 2020: 

More recently, they published another episode on plagues: “Rewriting the Black Death” (Episode 512) with Monica H. Green, posted the 26th of August 2021: 

Podcast: Head on History by Ali A. Olomi: This is a monthly history podcast specializing in Middle Eastern, Islamic, and world religion’s history. Each episode is 30-45 minutes long with a deep dive into specific themes around the intellectual history of religion, folklore, the supernatural and the occult, djinn/ jinn, and the way history informs the present. Started the 3rd of August 2020, during the pandemic: 


Cása Árabe’s Youtube Channel: [Spanish, English, and Arabic] Created in 2006, this public institution depending on different Estate organizations from Spain and the European Union acts as a platform and a tool for the public Spanish diplomacy. They organize several conferences, seminars and workshops focused on the modern Middle East and the Islamicate past of Spain. Their Youtube account contains several videos on the Umayyad Córdoba, Sciences in al-Andalus and historiographic debates around controversial terms as “Reconquista”: 

The Chester Beatty Library’s YouTube Channel: [English] The page of this Irish museum contains a high number of videos promoting the appreciation and understanding of world cultures with holdings of manuscripts, rare books, and other treasures from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Asia. Different videos were recorded during the pandemic related to Middle Eastern topics, such as Mamluk bindings or an Umayyad Qur’an, among others. Those can be found here: 

Maghrib in Past & Present | Podcasts: This is a forum in which artists, writers, and scholars from North Africa, the United States, and beyond can present their ongoing and innovative research on and cultural activities in the Maghrib. The podcasts are recorded at research centers, universities, and cultural venues across the Maghrib – Algiers, Carthage, Casablanca, Mostaghanem, Nouakchott, Oran, Rabat, Sfax, Tangier, Tripoli, and Tunis – and are based on lectures or performances before live audiences. Aiming to project the scientific and cultural dynamism of research in and on North Africa into the classroom, we too hope to reach a wider audience across the globe. Maghrib in Past & Present | Podcasts are in Arabic, English, French, Spanish, and Tamazight.    Maghrib in Past & Present | Postcasts is a production of the American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS) and are recorded by its overseas research centers in North Africa: Centre d’Études Maghrébines en Algérie (CEMA), Centre d’Études Maghrébines à Tunis (CEMAT), and Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM). Use of content for classroom purposes and on other non-profit educational websites is granted (and encouraged) with proper citation.

Podcast: New Books in Middle Eastern Studies: [English] This is an author-interview podcast channel in the @NewBooksNetwork.

The Woolf Institute’s YouTube Channel: [English] The Woolf Institute is a global leader in the academic study of relations between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Established in Cambridge (UK) in 1998, with close links to the city’s famous University, the Institute is recognized around the world for the excellence of its research, teaching, and public education programs. In their channel can be found several videos and online conferences revolving around interfaith relations in the Middle Ages: