Publishing the Islam Burkina Faso Collection: Collaboration for Digital Scholarship

On 15 September, together with Perry Collins, we presented a paper entitled “Publishing the Islam Burkina Faso Collection: Collaboration for Digital Scholarship” for the panel on “Digital Humanities” at the 34th Deutscher Orientalistentag (DOT) Conference at the Freie Universität Berlin (Germany).


Despite the growing popularity of digital humanities, a limited number of initiatives related to Islam in Sub-Saharan Africa have attempted to mobilize digital tools to analyze and disseminate research data. Launched in 2021, the Islam Burkina Faso Collection ( is an open-access digital database containing more than 2,700 archival materials, newspaper articles, Islamic publications, photographs and bibliographical references related to Islam and Muslims in Burkina Faso. “Digital exhibits” with interactive timelines, which include a selection of documents from the database, contextual information for approaching this material and a selective bibliography, serve as entry points for the larger collection. This project is one of the first digital humanities initiatives to be published under a new University of Florida Libraries program, LibraryPress@UF. This program, an imprint of the Libraries and the University of Florida Press, seeks to develop public scholarship across formats that extend and complement the work of traditional academic publishing. Alongside its value as a scholarly and educational resource, Islam Burkina Faso Collection has benefited LibraryPress as a case study to explore and refine three major areas: (1) publishing workflows and human resources, including evaluation of digital publications and multi-expert collaboration; (2) technical infrastructure and expertise, including defining services for web hosting and design; and (3) sustainability, including feasible expectations for maintenance and archiving. Throughout all of these areas, the project has modeled an approach to digital scholarship and library publishing that balances experimentation and ambition with realistic goals and an eye toward replicability in future work.

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