Middle East Scholars in Europe:
with additions by Gerd Nonnemann
EURAMES was established on 11 July 1990 in Paris and comprises 13 member
organizations from the following countries: Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Spain,
Finland, France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Norway, Holland, Poland, Sweden,
Switzerland and the Ukraine.
Following the collaboration of representatives from the various national
associations, I have been able to provide an outline of the potential of
EURAMES resources. While the information contained varies considerably, the
conclusions are interesting and can provide a useful basis for future action.
This outline is on two levels: the first provides a synthesis of the principle
characteristics of oriental studies in the different member societies of
EURAMES; the second is a synthesis which evaluates, however approximately, the
fundamental basis of study in this area throughout Europe.
There has thus far been only one attempt to produce a survey of all Middle East
expertise in Europe. This was undertaken for EURAMES and the European
Commission, and published by EURAMES in 1993, running to 377 pages: E. Murphy,
G. Nonneman & N. Quilliam, European Expertise on the Middle East and
North Africa. Oxford: EURAMES, 1993)
Summary by country
In 1997 there were 258 orientalists in permanent employment, including younger
researchers who have completed their theses. Of these, 180 were members of
DAVO (the German Association for Contemporary Research and Documentation in the
Middle East). DAVO has a total of 480 members mainly comprising university
lecturers, students, journalists and 48 non-German lecturers who are resident
in Germany. The most important areas of research are Islamic studies (62),
political sciences (38), Arab studies (32), geography (30), history (13),
economics (10) and Iranian studies (8). Some sectors are divided internally -
for example, Islamic, Arabic, Turkish and Iranian Studies may form part of
linguistics and history. There are 24 centres which have a minimum of 5
researchers, based in 17 different cities. It is worth noting that Berlin has
five separate centres, while Hamburg and Mainz each have two. The other
principal institutions are based in Bamberg, Freiburg, Tubingen, Munich and
Bonn. There is also the German Institute of the Near Orient which is based in
Middle Eastern studies in Belgium have traditionally focussed on `orientalist'
subjects of language, culture and history, in addition to archaeology.
Contemporary social science research and teaching has been limited. There has
not been any concerted attempt to bring together all those interested in the
region in a network or organisation. A Flemish-Arab Association was
established in the late 1970s, but petered out after a few years. A new Flemish
Association of Middle Eastern studies has been mooted under impulse of Prof.
Urbain Vermeulen at Leuven University, who joined the EURAMES board, but this
again has not yet come to full fruition. It is hoped a more comprehensive
Belgian Association of Middle Eastern Studies may be established on the
occasion of the EURAMES conference at Ghent, 1999. The main centres for
`traditional' Middle Eastern studies include Louvain-la-Neuve, Leuven, and
Ghent, including only a few individuals each, with some interest also in the
universities of Mons and Brussels. In contemporary Middle East affairs, the
numbers are even smaller although there are perhaps some 5 individuals
of professorial rank, plus perhaps twice as many `assistants', at these five
universities. These are in particular at Louvain-la-Neuve (with Prof. Khader's
Centre d'Etudes du Monde Arabe Contemporain), and Ghent (with the new Centre
for Middle East Studies of Prof. Doom), in addition to Prof. Vermeulen (Leuven
& Gent), Prof. Anciaux (Université Libre de Bruxelles), and Prof.
Safar (Mons). It should be noted, though, that no systematic survey has been
Sociedad Española de estudios árabes
("Los estudios arabes e islamicos en Espana" - Murcia 1996)
This work cites 260 researchers and university staff whose speciality is known.
The most important universities and research centres are as follows: the two
universities in Madrid (Autonoma and Complutense), Barcelona, Valencia,
Zaragoza and universities in the south of the country such as Sevilla,
Alicante, Almeria, Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada, Jaen and Malaga. The work outlines
course composition. Turkish and Iranian studies are not mentioned.
Association Française pour l'étude du Monde Arabe et Musulman (AFEMAM)
The reference work here is "L'annuaire des chercheurs et enseignants" which was
published by AFEMAM in November 1993, comprising 380 pages. Although somewhat
out of date, it still provides a good overview of the French position. It
contains 781 names, most of which are of individuals based in universities, but
also including journalists, some students and others with an interest in the
Middle East. The directory points to 78 specialists grouped into six
categories. Most are members of AFEMAM.
The categories are as follows:
The main teaching and research
centres are as follows:
- Language, linguistics and literature: 283 individuals, of whom 89 are
listed under Arabic language, 21 under Turkish and 14 under Iranian;
- Islamic studies: 218, of whom 41 are listed under Islamic sects, 29 under
popular Islam and 28 under Sufism;
- History - 410
- The Muslim World - 681, including geography (55), economics (46),
demographics (85), urban studies (64), political science (67), international
relations (62), sociology (136)
- Art and archaeology - 155
- Cultural problems, teaching - 242
Paris I, Paris III, Paris IV, Paris VII and Paris X, together with
EPHE (École pratique des hautes études), EHESS (École des
hautes études en sciences sociales), INALCO, Institut national des
langues et civilisations orientales
Aix en Provence - the Universities of Aix-Marseille I,
Aix-Marseille III and IREMAM; at Lyon there is the University of Lyon II and
the Maison de l'Orient; at Tours there is the University and URBAMA and the
University of Strasbourg I.
There are also 'instituts' which are based outside France, but have
affiliations with local institutions and have many active researchers. Under
this category come IFAO (Institut français d'archéologie orientale) and CEDEJ (Centre d'études economiques et juridiques) in Cairo, CERMOC (Centre d'études et de recherches sur le Moyen Orient contemporain) at Beyrouth, IFEA (Institut français d'études arabes) in Damascus, IFEA (Institut français d'études anatoliennes) in Istanbul, IRMC (Institut de recherches sur le Maghreb
contemporain) in Tunis and CFEY (Centre français d'études yemenites in San'a).
BRISMES has 750 members, a number of whom are non-British members. The
majority of teaching and research takes place in universities. The most
important institutions, having at least 10 individuals specialising in this
area are found in London, where there are four (SOAS, Westminster, L.S.E. and
University College). Outside London the main universities are Exeter,
Cambridge, Oxford (St Antony's College), Manchester, Leeds, Durham, Edinburgh
and St Andrews. Each centre has its own library, but the most important source
of oriental material is to be found in the British Library in London.
For greater detail see the BRISMES Directory of members, published in 1993.
Società di studi sul medio oriente (SeSaMo)
There is no directory of members produced for the Italian association, which
does not specifically list researchers under this category. The study of
oriental languages, such as history, is generally undertaken in the
universities, notably those in Perugia, Florence, Milan, Turin, Palermo and
Rome. Some political science institutions teach Arabic and have an interest in
the Arab-Islamic world - notably Florence.
There are also some specialist institutions - mainly in Rome, where there is
the Istituto per l'Oriente, Istituto di Studi su Africa e Oriente which have
150 members, the Pontificio Instituto di Studi arabi e islamici. There are
also the Istituto Orientale in Naples and the Istituto de Studi orientali in
Venice. These two establishments have very good specialist libraries.
Vereniging voor de studie van het Midden-oosten en de islam Netherlands
There are around 100 orientalists in universities - most of whom are involved
in 'traditional' teaching - such as linguistics, literature and history. There
is also a group of around 50 political scientists. MOI is the main
professional organisation involved in Arabic-Islamic studies. It currently has
300 members. The main research centres are in the Universities of Amsterdan,
Groningen, Leiden, Nijmegen and Utrecht. The best library is in Leiden.
Middle Eastern Studies in Poland - Directory of Members, Warsaw 1997 (77
This directory contains 109 individual entries but is by no means complete.
The division of specialisms is on the lines of the AFEMAM directory - with
researchers coming under 41 categories - the most important of which are as
- Art and archaeology - 36
- Anthropology, sociology - 25
- Language and culture studies - 89, of whom 35 are listed under Arabic
studies, 14 under Iranian studies and 18 under Turkish studies
- History - 45
- Language and literature - 61
- Economy and political science - 30
This society groups together Middle East scholars from four countries - Denmark,
Finland, Norway and Sweden wihtout distinction between the nationalities.
The Nordic society comprises around 80 per cent of scholars in the field
in these countries. It publishes as Directory
of Middle Eastern Studies in the Nordic countries every three years,
the last edition is from 2001. The 253 scholars listed are mainly university
staff (154) and research students (99). The division by category is as follows:
Each university has the following number of researchers:
- Social Sciences:
- Anthropology (38),
- Political science (20)
- Sociology (8)
- Human Sciences:
- Arabic (56),
- Islamic Studies (42),
- History (31)
- Persian (7),
- Turkish (4)
The best libraries are the
University library of Uppsala and the Royal Library in Copenhagen.
- Sweden - Uppsala (22), Lund (20), Gothenburg (15), Stockholm (13), other (12)
- Denmark - Copenhagen (23), Aarhus (12), Odense (10), other (12)
- Norway - Bergen (28), Oslo (28), other (19)
- Finland - Helsinki (16), Tampere (5), other (7)
Schweizerische Gesellschaft Mittlerer Osten und Islamische Kulturen
There are two specialist associations based in Switzerland:
Société Suisse Moyen Orient et Civilisation Islamique
Società Svizzera Medio Oriente e Civiltà Islamica
La Société Suisse-Asia which was established in 1939 and has
around 200 members. This is mainly active in Zürich.
La Société Suisse Moyen Orient et Civilisation islamique -
established in 1990 which also has around 200 members, of whom around half are
teachers in universities and students and a quarter are journalists. This is
based in Bern.
Research is funded by FNSRS (Fonds national suisse pour la recherche
scientifique) but it is allocated regionally and given mainly to universities.
These are based in Zürich and Basel, but especially in Geneva and Bern
which also boasts the main specialist library.
The diversity and variety of the information provided makes a global summary or
European resources in the social sciences dealing with the Arab-Islamic world
very difficult. However, each European country allocates significant resources
into study in this field. This may seem normal for those countries like France
and Spain, or Italy and Britain which have well-established links with the
Middle East. However, the importance given to this area of study in Germany
and Poland, not to mention the Scandinavian countries and Switzerland is quite
surprising. This is where there is a positive element which reflects dynamism
in the researchers and their interests in this area of study.
A very rough estimation would indicate around 3,000 people who study the
Arab-Islamic world under the umbrella of the social sciences and humanities in
Europe - manly based in universities. It does not seem worthwhile trying to
establish a clearer division by discipline and geographical region of the
researchers. However, it is possible to take the overview and form the opinion
that EURAMES could and should play an essential role in bringing researchers
Translated from the French by BRISMES. Additional information by G. Nonneman