Alumni Project

The Humanities in the 21st Century: Arab and German Perspectives

Blog Series

The role of the humanities, their standing in the academic field, and their impact on society are questions of global relevance. They have become highly topical in the Arab world where the humanities, in particular, are often facing considerable obstacles due, among other reasons, to limited access to financial resources, restricted access to international knowledge production, and a lack of prestige and status, which may restrain promising students from choosing these disciplines. Also in the German context humanities are facing various and in part similar challenges, be it that they are subject to financial restraints, that their value is called into question from a utilitarian standpoint, or that they tend to be played off against social sciences.

Why is it important to study, teach, and do research in the humanities? Which role do the humanities play in the Arab world and Germany – both in the academic realm and in the public sphere of ‘societies in change’? More specifically, what is the situation of scholars in the humanities across the Arab world, especially in Arab countries that face war or post-war situations, such as Syria, Libya, or Iraq? Which challenges and obstacles do Arab scholars in the humanities face, which research opportunities do they have, and what could be done to improve their situation, or generally speaking: How could the humanities be strengthened in the Arab world?

The blog series takes up key issues that were raised and discussed at the AGYA conference in Berlin in November 2019, “The Place of Humanities in Research, Education and Society: An Arab-German Dialogue”. It was organized by AGYA almunae Dr. Nuha Al-Shaar, Dr.  Beate Ulrike Al Sala,  Prof. Dr. Jenny Oesterle and Dr. Barbara Winckler. Scholars from various branches of the humanities as well as representatives of cultural institutions and funding institutions from Germany and various Arab countries contribute short articles discussing both the challenges and the potential of the humanities from their respective regional and disciplinary perspectives. They target a broad international audience interested in the humanities and transregional perspectives.

The short articles are first published on the Forum’s academic blog “TRAFO – Blog for Transregional Research”, both in English and Arabic. They present the experiences and ideas of scholars from different branches of the humanities such as history, art history, literary studies, gender studies, and philosophy. This allows a comprehensive perspective, revealing both shared experiences and differences between disciplines and countries. Contributions by representatives of cultural institutions and funding institutions which discuss the impact of the humanities beyond the academic sphere complement the academic perspective.

List of Contributions by AGYA Members and Alumnae/i


TRAFO Blog Series Logo

AGYA/Gabriele Schlipf

Disciplines Involved
Arabic Studies, Archaeology, History, Philology, Sociology
Cooperation Partner
Forum Transregionale Studien