Catz postgraduate becomes a Cambridge Digital Humanities Associate

Monday 10 May 2021


St Catharine’s postgraduate student Malik Al Nasir (2020, History) has been welcomed by the Cambridge Digital Humanities (CDH) as the team’s latest Associate.

Malik commented, “It is a tremendous honour be a CDH Associate – and quite a surprise as a first-year PhD researcher! I look forward to developing my long-standing interest in digital humanities, which was originally inspired by my Master’s degree, where I developed a prototype dynamic interactive digital archive for genealogical research. Since joining St Catharine’s, I have been working closely with CDH and the Digital Library, to digitise material about my ancestral slave owners – known as Sandbach Tinne & Co – from the 18th and 19th centuries.”

Malik’s PhD research builds on his existing discoveries about his own family connections, back through Caribbean enslavement. These earlier findings have appeared in both national and international press and resulted in a two-book deal with William Collins, an imprint of publisher Harper Collins.

Pictured: Malik with his personal archive.


His personal archive consists of more than 200 documents covering the period between 1763 and 1880, including letters, plantation records and financial accounts, and more than 500 carte de visite photographs dating from 1858 to 1930. The ongoing work to digitise this archive was supported by Cambridge University Library, CDH and a discretionary ESRC award.

Malik explained, “The process has taken several months already and will encompass digitising the entire collection, followed by cataloguing and indexing, which will allow the archive to integrate with important collections such as the ‘Legacies of British Slave Owners’ archive held at University College London. Thanks to the support of CDH, I will not only have a unique data set for my PhD research, but also the reassurance that this substantive digital archive will be accessible to the wider research community and members of the public, for generations to come.”

Established in 2017, the CDH Associate Programme aims to build an expert community, to enable the sharing of research and infra-structural knowledge, and to bring together people doing digital humanities research across a wide range of areas.

Huw Jones, Library Digital Humanities Coordinator at CDH Labs, commented, “Malik’s research aligns with many of the core aims of CDH, both in its subject matter and in its methodology. The Associate programme is designed to bring together expertise and ideas from across Cambridge, and we look forward to getting Malik’s input and insights into the broad range of digital humanities activity in University.”


Find out more about postgraduate life at St Catharine’s.