How to follow the journey

I have to confess that I started this project without really having a solid plan for it in my head. I got the idea, and then the anniversary of Ibn Battuta’s departure from Tangier was coming up and I knew I wanted to start that day, so I just kind of started while I was still working out the details. But a picture is starting to form in my head and I’m ready to share it with you.

First of all there’s timeframe. Ibn Battuta’s first journey began in 1325 and ended with his return to Tangier in 1349. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t intend to still be doing this project in the year 2042, so following his travels in “real” time is clearly not a good idea. My plan instead is to take things one year per month, more or less. I say “more or less” because sometimes we don’t know exactly when Ibn Battuta visited a place, sometimes he’s on the road for a while and so his account jumps ahead to the next place he stops, and it can be hard to completely track his journey this way. Also, there are years in which Ibn Battuta is very active, with lots of things to cover, and years that aren’t so active…like 1325, for example. Also also, I’m going on vacation at the end of this month so I may need a little extra time to wrap up 1325. So broadly speaking we’ll do one year per month with some flexibility.

Second, there’s managing all of these different platforms. I think the variance between the very short-form Twitter, the kind of medium-form Facebook, and the longer possibilities here at this blog will work well for this kind of project. My aim is to make short, 1-3 tweet observations on our Twitter page every day or nearly every day. Most, but not all, of the time I’ll expand on those tweets a bit at Facebook. This blog will be reserved for longer topics and in depth pieces, which I’ll write as often as I think they’re needed. Those pieces will take two forms. One will be accounts of the journey itself–where Ibn Battuta was, how he got where he got, who he met, what kind of work he did there if any, etc. I’ll include the occasional quote from his travelogue to give you a sense of what he’s writing. Those will be found under the category “Travel Accounts.” They’ll come out probably twice a month on average, more or less depending on how active a year Ibn Battuta was having.

The second kind of piece you’ll find here has to do with the places and peoples Ibn Battuta encountered during his journey. For example, I’m hoping this week to write a post on the Marinid Dynasty and Morocco in the 14th century, and then in the days to come pieces on Tlemcan and the Hafsid Dynasty of Tunisia, the next two places Ibn Battuta passed through on his way to Alexandria. These essays will be more contextual and not specifically about Ibn Battuta per se. They’ll be available under the category “Ibn Battuta’s World.”

That brings me to the final thing I need to say, which is about funding. This project is something I’m excited to do that I hope builds an audience as it goes along, but it’s also part of my day job. Many of you have come here from my main blog, and that’s the way it was, so you know my work already. I also have a Patreon page where my monthly subscribers get access to additional content in the form of podcasts, essays, and weekly “ask me anything” features. If you’re interested in world news and history, especially of the Middle East, I hope you’ll check it out. Because this project is part of that work, some of its content will be reserved for Patreon subscribers only. Specifically, posts in the “Ibn Battuta’s World” category will be reserved for $5/month Patreon subscribers. I also intend to podcast on Ibn Battuta from time to time, and those will be available to $3/month subscribers. I think this is a fair division that allows people who are casually interested to follow along with the story while those who are able and willing to support the project will be able to enjoy a more enriching experience.

One last thing about the website. I am not entirely sold on this site template yet. It was the first one that I liked well enough when I was scrambling to pull the site together, but I’m still looking for something better. But in the meantime, I know this template is a little austere so I wanted to you to be aware of the very subtle menu button at the top of the page, like so:

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That menu contains everything you should need to get around: links to post categories, archives, recent posts, links to Twitter and Facebook, a link to Patreon and an email to contact me if you have questions or comments. I just wanted to make sure you knew it was there.

I think that’s all the housekeeping we need to do for now. Thanks for joining me on this adventure and I hope you stick around!

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