Using Historical Maps for MENA Political Science Research

American Political Science Association (APSA) MENA Politics Newsletter

APSA MENA Politics Newsletter 4(1) – Spring 2021 - Taking Space Seriously: The Use of Geographic Methods in the Study of MENA

Introduction: Historical maps contain a wealth of information. They enable us to access rare data and reveal information that would have been otherwise lost in the archives. Access to historical maps can equip scholars of the politics of the Middle East with new data sources and a toolkit that allows them to address many unique research questions, ranging from implications of historical conflict to the roots of political and economic determinants of development in the Middle East. Historical maps can also help us understand the infrastructure that historically helped social movements develop and the implications of different repression methods on the fabric of the city. Recovering municipal and national boundaries and changes thereof (see Clark’s contribution in this symposium) can prove extremely helpful to understanding movement and migration across time and space and their implications. Historical maps can further be highly beneficial for research in the field of Historical Political Economy when researchers face the issue of missing or incomplete data sources such as censuses.

In this article, I showcase the potential of using historical maps by discussing examples of published and ongoing research projects that underline how we can benefit from historical maps and generate data in a variety of research areas. After that, I highlight ways through which we can get access to historical maps of the Middle East. I also discuss challenges and limitations researchers could face with historical maps.

Read the full text of my contribution here

Read all contributions to the MENA Politics Newsletter 4(1) – Spring 2021 - Taking Space Seriously: The Use of Geographic Methods in the Study of MENA, Alexandra Domike Blackman and Lama Mourad link

Ashrakat Elshehawy
Postdoctoral Fellow

My research interests incorporates apects of Political Economy of Development and the Political Economy of Information. My research focuses on the economic history of state-institutions, local public good provision, informal social-welfare, and the political economy of Islamic institutions, with a regional focus of the Middle East. My research also evaluates effects of foreign interventions on domestic politics, in regions that span beyond the Middle East, employing advanced methods of Natural Language processing and computational text analysis.