Skip to main content

 Dr Alba Fedeli has made history as the first woman to speak at a conference on the Qur'an in Qatar.

Alba is currently a research fellow at FSCIRE (Foundation for Religious Studies) in Bologna, Italy, and at the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing of the University of Birmingham, UK, working on the transmission of early Qur’anic manuscripts through phylogenetic analysis. Her work received international recognition after the BBC announcement that a Qur'anic manuscript in the Mingana collection could date to Muhammad’s lifetime.

Photo of Alba Fedeli

On 3 May 2018, Alba was invited to present her work at a conference in Qatar, making her the first woman to receive this honour. She spoke on Digital Humanities and Qur’anic Manuscript Studies: New perspectives and Challenges for collaborative space and pluralism of views.

The abstract of the paper is as follows:

The use of digital tools revolutionized academic research in humanities studies, changing their approaches, methodologies and outcomes. The phenomenon is revolutionary and comparable to the radical change after the introduction of the printing, creating a new interdisciplinary area called Digital Humanities or Humanities Computing. Application of Humanities Computing in the study of early Qur’anic manuscripts can affect the access to and comprehension of these objects in three main aspects. Firstly, digital tools change our access to illegible objects through digital images and secondly, our editing of manuscript texts by means of tagging systems, thus producing a structured and searchable/processable archive of information that manuscripts contain. Lastly, information technology borrowed from biology in the comprehension of DNA sequences is applied to manuscript studies through the encoding of several manuscripts and facilitates our understanding by suggesting possible connections between manuscripts.The paper will discuss the methodological implications of the research projects already realized - in terms of imaging processing, tagging of the text and phylogenetics - and the feasibility of a collaborative space for annotating Qur’anic manuscripts, taking in consideration actors, audiences and purposes.