March 3, 2022
In 2019, Abir Ward from the English Department and Fatme Charafeddine from AUB Libraries decided to make a stand and help close the gender gap on Wikipedia and at the same time address the shocking dearth of Arab entries.
Since then, their project has expanded exponentially and grown into a community research network bringing together AUB students, librarians, and professors with the help of Wikipedia Education. Together, they are engaging in the cultural politics of representation by developing an online presence for Lebanese and Arab authors, artists, and other notables to “reclaim our narrative,” as Ward puts it.
As part of AUB’s Coed Centennial, they have opted this year to concentrate on diversifying Wikipedia’s coverage of Arab women by creating and improving articles about prominent Arab women and AUB alumnae.
The initiative is now called 2Rāth, which comes from the Arabic word Turāth [تراث] which means heritage, legacy, or tradition. Making this “To Rāth” (written as 2Rāth as a nod to the digital aspect) turns it from a noun into an action verb, implying “to preserve our heritage.”
2Rāth has now held two well-attended edit-a-thons on campus, in November 2021 and February 2022, drawing students from many majors (and even one student from LAU), as well as partners around campus, including AUB Press, MEPI-TL program, the Gender Studies program, and the University Libraries. Other important contributors to the initiative are CCCC Wikipedia, Art + Feminism, and Wikimedia Foundation.
Dr. Ward has also added this project as part of her English 203 class, where students practice crucial skills such as critical thinking, digital literacy, online source evaluation, and encyclopedic writing. All while making a difference in their world.