Many scholars and social philosophers maintain that ethnic and racial representations circulated in Western visual productions impact global social thought and culture. The purpose of the FDTD is to compile an unprecedented list of visual productions in the form of feature films, television/cable shows (including serials), and documentaries related to the Arab and Muslim world produced or co-produced in the West. This listing is augmented by a bibliography that compiles academic and journalistic works discussing the ideological impact of these cultural productions. Ultimately, the database and its coding system will become a product where works are searchable by the variables determined through further research.
The team is keenly aware that television is an under researched area in relation to the Arab and Muslim world. In this way, the team is creating a foundation for this area of research. Like television, documentaries on Arabs, Muslims and the Middle East as a category are under-researched.
Each production’s salient details are researched and categorized on database documents. FDTD interns continue categorizing specific production details on the spreadsheets and add notes.
The FDTD team continues to develop ideas regarding coding and categorizing the visual productions. The team meets to discuss ways in which the database may be coded such as region, ideology, topics and subtopics (tropes), ratings and awards, funding agencies and target markets. Currently the database itself contains some of these categories in columns on each entry.
FDTD uses Google Drive Spreadsheets. The spreadsheets on films, television/cable shows and documentaries contain variables including notes (currently in the process of being formulated), which are the foundation for an eventual coding of the entries. The notes stand in stark contrast to mainstream reviews of productions (which are also mined and cited) in that they specifically address and code (as tropes) how Arabs, Muslims and the Middle East are represented in the work and the ideological paradigm of the production. FDTD teams have watched most productions in full and provided detailed reflections when possible.
The Films Database bibliography contains a wide range of journalistic and scholarly articles and texts and is listed in standard bibliographic format. All the works listed address the main themes of the Films Database or are scholarly works addressing ethnic and racial representations in cultural productions. The bibliography is mined from a myriad of locations such as bibliographies of scholarly works and articles, national and international university library bibliographic documents and Western film and television journals and newspapers.