The Humanities in the 21st Century: Perspectives from the Arab World and Germany – An Introduction

Published: 2021
Blog for Transregional Research


The TRAFO series “The Humanities in the 21st Century: Perspectives from the Arab World and Germany” by AGYA members Nuha Al-Shaar (American University Sharjah/Institute of Ismaili Studies, London), Beate La Sala (Freie Universität Berlin), Jenny Oesterle (University of Passau) and Barbara Winckler (University of Münster) examines questions on the role of the humanities, their standing in the academic field and their impact on society. These questions have become highly topical particularly in the Arab world, where the various disciplines within the humanities face considerable obstacles. This situation seems to have been caused by a number of reasons, such as limited access to financial resources, restricted opportunities to contribute to international knowledge production, lack of prestige and status, and other job market considerations, which often deter promising students from majoring in any of the humanities’ disciplines. The humanities in Germany also face challenges, some of which are similar to those encountered in the Arab world. More precisely, in addition to struggling with financial restraints, the value of the humanities is called into question from a utilitarian standpoint, and they tend to be played off against the social sciences.