Digital source imperialism and the Arab world

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The term “digital imperialism” has been commonly used to describe cases where digital products transform social customs, but I use the term “digital source imperialism” here to refer to those who seek to control or monopolize access to digital products that belong to the public domain.






Mestyan, A (2016). Digital source imperialism and the Arab world. Retrieved from



Adam Mestyan

Associate Professor of History

Dr. Mestyan is on sabbatical leave in the academic year 2023-2024.

Adam Mestyan researches and teaches the history of empire and subordinated states in the Arabic-speaking world. He is most interested in devising new analytical categories to describe temporal change. His current research interest centers on the relationship between nature, Islamic law, taxation, and state formation in the twentieth century. He is now writing an environmental history of Cairo.

His previous works in cultural and political history include Modern Arab Kingship - Remaking the Ottoman Political Order in the Interwar Middle East (Princeton University Press, 2023), a work of new imperial history, in which he developed the argument that, instead of colonialism and nationalism, the operation of "recycling empire" was at the heart of new political orders in the Arab successor polities of the Ottoman Empire; Primordial History, Print Capitalism, and Egyptology in Nineteenth-Century Cairo (Ifao, 2021), a manuscript translation and edition with an essay about Muslim chronographical praise in the Egyptian age of steam; and Arab Patriotism - The Ideology and Culture of Power in Late Ottoman Egypt (Princeton University Press, 2017), an archive-based study of the Ottoman-local cultural origins of Egyptian nationalism through theaters and plays. He remains interested in the cultural history in the Eastern Mediterranean. His articles appeared in the Journal of Global History, Comparative Studies in Society and History, the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Urban History, and many other academic journals.

He has also been creating digital tools and Arabic databases for scholars and the public. He supervises an online bibliography on Arabic periodicals: Jara'id: A Chronology of Arabic Periodicals, 1800-1929; co-directs a digital humanities project on the urban history of Cairo and another one on Islamic book history.

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