Interest in the Middle East and the Islamic world is at an all time high, generating a corresponding increase in demand for specialized teaching, learning and transmitting critical knowledge and perspectives on this part of the world. Understanding this region involves learning about the social, political, religious and cultural issues – past and present – that shape the Islamic world of today. Studying Middle Eastern cultures and peoples across all time periods provides a crucial framework for understanding the complex relationship between Islam and the West today.
Digitization, which began on October 15, 2001, is managed at the Arhoolie Foundation's facilities in El Cerrito, California. The production team, under the direction of Foundation Board members Tom Diamant and Chris Strachwitz, first cataloged the entire collection of over 130,000 individual recordings on cassettes and 78 rpm, 45 rpm, and 33 1/3 rpm long-playing (lp) records. They purchased specialized equipment to begin the initial phase of this highly technical process.
The Strachwitz Frontera Collection contains three sections, roughly divided by era.