Maxim Romanov, PhD

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Curriculum Vitae


  • Curriculum Vitae
    • Current position: Universitätsassistent für Digital Humanities
    • Institutional affiliation: Institut für Geschichte, Universität Wien, Universitätsring 1, 1010 Wien
    • Ph.D.: in Near Eastern Studies (2013), University of Michigan
    • Institutional email: maxim dot romanov at univie dot ac dot at
    • Personal email: romanov dot maxim at gmail dot com
    • Website:



    • 2017–: Universitätassistent für Digital Humanities, Universität Wien, Institut für Geschichte
    • 2015–2017: Research Fellow Leipzig University, Computer Science Institute, The Humboldt Chair for Digital Humanities
    • 2013–2015: Postdoctoral Associate Tufts University, Department of Classics & Perseus Project
    • 2006–2012: Graduate Student Instructor (Teaching Assistant), University of Michigan, Department of Near Eastern Studies
    • 2004–2006: Junior Researcher, Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences; former: St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies, St. Petersburg, Russia (SPbIOS/IOM of RAS)



    • 2006–2013: Ph.D. (December 15, 2013) / M.A. (April 29, 2010)  in Near Eastern Studies (Arabic Islamic Studies),  Department of Near Eastern Studies, University of Michigan, USA.  Dissertation: Computational Reading of Arabic Biographical Collections with Special Reference to Preaching in the Sunnī World (661–1300 CE).  (available in open access through the University of Michigan Digital Library:  Dissertation Committee: Alexander Knysh (Chair), Michael Bonner, Richard Bulliet,  Sherman Jackson, Andrew Shryock.
    • 2001–2004: ABD, Post-graduate program in Islamic Studies (Mentor: Stanislav M. Prozorov),  Institute of Oriental Manuscripts of the Russian Academy of Sciences;  former: St. Petersburg Branch of the Institute of Oriental Studies,  St. Petersburg, Russia (SPbIOS/IOM of RAS)
    • 1999–2001: St. Petersburg State University, the School (“Fakultet”) of Oriental Studies,  partial completion of the History of the Arab Countries program,  St. Petersburg, Russia.
    • 1998–2001: B.A./M.A. in Sociology.
    • St. Petersburg State University, the School (“Fakultet”) of Sociology,   M.A. Thesis: “The role of religious scholars (ʿulamāʾ) in the life of Islamic society”; St. Petersburg, Russia.
    • 1995–1998: The Baltic State Technical University, the School (“Fakultet”) of Humanities (concentration in Political Sciences), St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Awards
    • Summer 2013: Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh Scholarship Award in Islamic Studies, U of Michigan.
    • Fall 2013: People’s Choice Award for the poster “Social History of the Muslim World in the Digital Age: Making Sense of 29,000 Biographies from al-Ḏahabī’s ‘History of Islam’ ” @ Cyberinfrastructure Days, U of Michigan, November 7-8, 2012.
    • Spring 2008: George and Celeste Hourani Award in Arabic, Armenian, Persian, Turkish, and Islamic Studies, the Department of Near Eastern Studies, U of Michigan.
    • Winter 2005 & 2004: Honorary awards for Website development, SPbIOS/IOM of RAS:
    • Winter 2004: Honorary award for the best articles and papers by young scholars (for the article “The Paradigm of the Science of the Ḥadīṯ”), SPbIOS/IOM of RAS.



  • Projects
    • 2016—ongoing: Open Islamicate Texts Initiative (Open ITI) is a multi-institutional effort to construct the first machine-actionable scholarly corpus of premodern Islamicate texts. Led by researchers at the Aga Khan University (AKU), Leipzig University (LU), and the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland (College Park) and an interdisciplinary advisory board of leading digital humanists and Islamic, Persian, and Arabic studies scholars, ITI aims to provide the essential textual infrastructure in Persian and Arabic for new forms of macro textual analysis and digital scholarship. In the process, Open ITI will enable new synergies between Digital Humanities and the inter-related Islamicate fields of Islamic, Persian, and Arabic Studies. ITI team members work on bringing together a united Islamicate textual corpus that would contain approximately 10,000 Islamicate texts (ca. 7,000 Arabic and 3,000 Persian texts). Co-PIs (alphabetically): Matthew Miller (UMD), Maxim Romanov (LU), Sarah Savant (AKU). For more details:
    • 2016—ongoing: Kraken ibn Ocropus. Building on the foundational open-source OCR work of the Leipzig University’s (LU) Alexander von Humboldt Chair for Digital Humanities, the Open ITI team develops a flexible, trainable OCR pipeline for Islamicate languages. We are building on an open-source OCR software called Kraken (developed by Benjamin Kiessling, LU) that enables us to make this our OCR technology freely available to the broader Islamic, Persian, and Arabic Studies communities in the near future. Unlike more traditional OCR approaches, Kraken relies on a neural network—which mimics the way we learn—to recognize letters in the images of entire lines of text without trying first to segment lines into words and then words into letters. This segmentation step—a mainstream OCR approach that persistently fails on connected scripts—is thus completely removed from the process, making Kraken uniquely powerful for dealing with a diverse variety of ligatures in connected Arabic script. We have achieved accuracy rates for classical Arabic texts in the high nineties, and currently testing Kraken on Persian and Syriac printed texts. Our efforts also focus on the development of an online interface that will facilitate the production and collection of training data and the post-correction of the initial OCR output. Team (alphabetically): Elijah Cooke (UMD), Benjamin Kiessling (LU), Matthew Miller (UMD), Maxim Romanov (LU), Sarah Savant (AKU). For the detailed report on the state of the project:
    • 2015—ongoing: OpenArabic Project. The goal of the project is to build a machine-actionable corpus of premodern texts in Arabic to encourage computational analysis of the Arabic written tradition. The project is in the process of being merged into the Open ITI. A detailed progress report is available on GitHub at:
    • 2014—ongoing: OpenArabic mARkdown. The main goal is to provide a simple system for tagging structural and semantic information in premodern and early modern Arabic texts that are being prepared within the framework of the OpenArabic Project that would facilitate algorithmic analysis in the same way (and even more efficiently) as more complex TEI XML does. A detailed description of and instructions for using OpenArabic mARkdown can be found at:
    • 2014—ongoing: Islamic Geography. 2014–2016: in collaboration with Cameron Jackson (Class 2016, double-major in Arabic and Computer Science, Tufts University); 2016–: in collaboration with Masoumeh Seydi (PhD Student in Digital Humanities, Leipzig University). The project includes two main parts: 1) al-Ṯurayyā (Pleiades in Arabic)—a digital gazetteer of the classical Islamic world; the latest working version version of al-Ṯurayyā is available at; for a previous version, see: 2) Ṣūraŧ al-arḍ (The Shape of the World in Arabic)—a computational geospatial model of the classical Islamic world for studying of geospatial data from premodern Islamic texts. Ṣūraŧ al-arḍ is inspired and builds upon, the Stanford geospatial Network Model of the Roman World (developed by Elijah Meeks and Walter Scheidel). The Ṣūraŧ al-arḍ will help us to better understand spatial connections within the Islamic world, to visually study geographical and travel literature, and, most importantly, to study ample data from biographical collections by tracing geographies of different social and religious groups. The working demo version of Ṣūraŧ al-arḍ is available at
    • 2013—ongoing: Kitab (an acronym that also means “book” in Arabic), a cultural history project treating the history of books and cultural memory. It undertakes a far-reaching evaluation of the classical Arabic textual tradition (750—1200) for the purpose of understanding how cultural memory was negotiated and shaped by authors when they created books. Its ingenuity derives from the application of text reuse methods, which detect the copying of texts into other texts and thus enable study of the form and content of the textual tradition. Project website (in progress): . NB: Collaborative project led by Sarah Savant (Islamic History, Aga Khan University—London); in collaboration with David Smith (Computer Science, Northeastern), and Alexander von Humboldt Chair for Digital Humanities (Leipzig University); my contribution, among other things, includes the study of Arabic Biographical Collections as a genre.
    • 2013–2015: Studying Classical Arabic Legacy @ Tufts University together with Gregory Crane @ Department of Classics & Perseus Project. Main goals: 1) to develop a catalog of digitally available sources in classical Arabic (as an Arabic supplement to The Perseus Catalog), to facilitate access to these sources and better understand what Arabic sources are available and what sources have been overlooked. Pilot Arabic catalog: (In “Work Original Language” select Arabic); 2) to develop courses and course materials for teaching classical Arabic with the use of computational tools in order to enhance and speed up learning process; Specific outcome: Introduction into Classical Arabic Through the Words of the Prophet: A Frequency-Based Ḥadīṯ Reader (available at: ; 3) to develop courses for studying specific classical sources in Arabic and in English translation in order to generate new knowledge about the Islamic world (research courses / digital projects).
    • 2012—ongoing: al-Raqmiyyāt: Digital Islamic History ( Personal research blog that highlights my digital studies of Islamic historical sources in Arabic, with the focus on documenting major steps of my digital experiments with 10,000 Arabic texts, highlighting general exploration of both the entire corpus and specific sources. The main goal is to log research progress, share discoveries and provide some guidance to young and senior scholars of Islam and Islamic history interested in employing digital methods in their research.

Professional Service


  • Fellowships and Memberships
    • F2015–W2016 (declined): Research Fellowship (Visiting Fellow) at Islamic Legal Studies Program,  Harvard Law School, Harvard University.
    • F2012–S2013: Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.
    • Summer 2013: Hajja Razia Sharif Sheikh Scholarship Award in Islamic Studies, U of Michigan.
    • W2012–S2012: Rackham Humanities Research Fellowship, U of Michigan.
    • F2011–W2012: Supplementary Grant for the 2011–2012 academic year, Global Supplementary Grant Program, Open Society Institute.
    • Winter 2011: Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant, U of Michigan.
    • Winter 2011: Radcliffe/Ramsdell Fellowship, U of Michigan.


Publications in u:cris

Showing entries 1 - 5 out of 16

Modelling Historical Information with Structured Assertion Records. / Baillie, James; Andrews, Tara; Romanov, Maxim et al.

2021. Paper presented at Data for History 2021.

Publications: Contribution to conferencePaperPeer Reviewed

OpenITI NgramReader+ (Version 2020.1). Romanov, Maxim (Developer). 2020.

Publications: Electronic/multimedia outputSoftware or database

Studying the history of the Arabic language: language technology and a large-scale historical corpus. / Belinkov, Yonatan; Magidow, Alexander; Barrón-Cedeño, Alberto et al.

In: Language resources and evaluation, Vol. 53, No. 4, 01.12.2019, p. 771-805.

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed

Roundtable: Digital Materialities in East/West Relations. / Andrews, Tara (Contributor); Vargha, Maria (Contributor); Romanov, Maxim (Contributor) et al.

2019. International Medieval Congress, Leeds, United Kingdom.

Publications: Contribution to conferenceOther contribution to conferencePeer Reviewed

al-Ṯurayyā, the Gazetteer and the Geospatial Model of the Early Islamic World. / Romanov, Maxim; Seydi, Masoumeh.

Digital Humanities 2019 Conference Papers (9-12 July 2019). Utrecht University. Utrecht, 2019.

Publications: Contribution to bookContribution to proceedingsPeer Reviewed

Showing entries 1 - 5 out of 16


Activities in u:cris

Showing entries 11 - 15 out of 17

“Open Sesame!” Digital Analysis of the Arabic Written Tradition: Part I—On Social History

Maxim Romanov
Talk or oral contribution
6.2.2018 - 6.2.2018

Workshop on Digital Humanities in Islamic and Arabic Studies (for SENSES, ERC-funded project)

Maxim Romanov
30.11.2017 - 1.12.2017

Looking for the author behind the words: Stylometric Analysis of al-Ḏahabī’s (d. 1347) Writings

Maxim Romanov
Middle East Studies Association
Conference, Talk or oral contribution
19.11.2017 - 19.11.2017

Social Complexity in Large-Scale Empires: Concepts, Modeling, Measurements and Comparisons: Modeling Social History of the Premodern Islamic World

Maxim Romanov
Evolution of Social Complexity
Seminar/Workshop, Talk or oral contribution
2.10.2017 - 2.10.2017

Digital Humanities in the field of Islamic studies

Maxim Romanov
Digital Humanities & the History of al-Andalus and the Maghreb
Seminar/Workshop, Talk or oral contribution
30.9.2017 - 30.9.2017

Showing entries 11 - 15 out of 17