New at Brill in Open Access: Encyclopædia Iranica Online


Encyclopaedia Iranica is the most renowned reference work in the field of Iran studies. Founded by the late Professor Ehsan Yarshater and edited at the Ehsan Yarshater Center for Iranian Studies at Columbia University, this monumental international project brings together the scholarship about Iran of thousands of authors around the world.




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Encyclopædia Iranica Online Now Freely Accessible at Brill

The Ehsan Yarshater Center for Iranian Studies at Columbia University, New York, and Brill are delighted to announce that the Encyclopædia Iranica Online is now freely accessible at Brill’s Reference Works Platform. Encyclopædia Iranica is the comprehensive academic reference work dedicated to the study of Iranian civilization in the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.

Ancient Iran Series Added to Brill’s Publishing Portfolio

As part of their growing portfolio in Middle East and Islamic Studies, Brill has signed an agreement for the take-over of the book series Ancient Iran Series. With its coverage of ancient, pre-, and early-Islamic Iran, this book series complements other book series with a more modern focus on this geographical area, as well as the various other journals and encyclopaedias Brill publishes in this field.

Read an interview with Geert Jan van Gelder

The longstanding series Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 1: The Near and Middle East recently reached its 150th volume by publishing the special Prominent Murder Victims of the Pre- and Early Islamic Periods Including the Names of Murdered Poets. We caught up with Geert Jan van Gelder, editor and translator of the volume.


Acquisitions Editors


Maurits van den Boogert

Nicolette van der Hoek

Abdurraouf Oueslati

Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht

Jehona Kicaj

Middle East and Islamic Studies


Angola in its second full year of peace continued to face a triple transition: from war to peace, from central planning to a market economy and from devastation to reconstruction. War had precipitated urban flight and the collapse of agricultural systems and internal trade. The challenges remained a fragmented national economy, a history of financial embezzlement and misappropriation of funds, a lack of international confidence and donor coordination, poor administrative capacity, a large child population at risk from disease, and weak opposition and civil society that were unable to affect social and political developments.


The dominance of the ruling party continued, though speculation about the succession to long-term president, José Eduardo dos Santos, continued unabated. Opposition parties and youth protests were vocal in their criticism of the government’s poor social track record and violence against opposition activists, but protests were met with violent repression and the country’s human rights situation deteriorated markedly. Abroad, Angola positioned itself as a power-player within the CPLP, flexing its financial muscle against Portugal and Brazil, and diversified South-South economic partnerships. Despite further economic growth, the socio-economic conditions for the majority of the population remained dire, with a high cost of living, low salaries, and underfunded public services.


The political year was again marked by dominant-party politics, increasing repression of dissent, and the coming to light of several spectacular cases of grand corruption and mismanagement. Nonetheless, Angola successfully established itself as a regional power-broker and attracted unabated interest from foreign investors. However, the economy, still dominated by the oil industry, stagnated and was seriously affected towards the end of the year by an oil price shock. Accordingly, commodity prices rose even further, and social expenditure remained far under the actual needs of the population.


This was a year of crisis, with falling oil prices causing a rapid deterioration in the economy. Domestic politics were shaped by the impact of the economic downturn, but rather than tackling the crisis head-on, the authorities unleashed the most violent persecution of suspected ‘internal enemies’ since the end of the war. Internationally, Angola multiplied its overtures to new and old creditors but all socioeconomic areas saw significant decline, with negative consequences for large parts of the population, including a hitherto relatively well-off, nascent urban middle class.


While the family of President dos Santos consolidated its grip on the economy, the head of state indicated he would retire from active politics in 2018; this was confirmed later in the year when the ruling party nominated its candidates for the 2017 elections. Although this heralded the possibility of future political change, domestic politics continued to be dominated by the ruling party. The economic crisis worsened, and the persecution of dissidents continued, putting a damper on Angola’s activities on the international stage, which were markedly reduced in ­comparison to the previous year.


Long-time president, José Eduardo dos Santos, stepped down after 38 years in power. He was succeeded by João Lourenço in the August elections. Although the ruling party continued to dominate politics after contested election results, this was a momentous change that brought about fresh political dynamics toward the end of the year. Nonetheless, the economic crisis persisted, which also reduced Angola’s diplomatic clout, and the overall human rights situation remained dire.


President João Lourenço confounded popular expectations by pursuing his vigorous reshuffling of the executive and the administration, and by allowing the opening of some high-profile corruption investigations into former prominent regime figures. On the international stage he multiplied overtures to old and new partners, leveraged Angola’s regional influence in neighbouring drc, and successfully redressed Angola’s image, which had been marred by grand corruption in the last years. Although these measures had great symbolic impact on foreign and domestic politics, in practice the dominance of the ruling party continued: changes to the political economy were ultimately more superficial than substantial, and there was little relief from economic hardship for a majority of the population.


President João Lourenço pursued new political overtures both at home and abroad. The Angolan economy languished, while ordinary Angolans were battered by austerity measures and saw little improvement in their daily lives.


While the public health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was ultimately not as catastrophic as anticipated, the ensuing restrictions to public and economic life negatively affected the lives of citizens, resulting in rising police repression, increased hardship and dissatisfaction, and the postponement of the planned local elections. Powers were concentrated in the hands of the executive, as many emergency measures were initially passed as presidential decrees, only to be approved later by the parliament, dominated by the mpla (Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola). This in turn led to a hardening of the social climate and a more aggressive stance by security forces towards citizens, who sought to protest against continued corruption in public life.


Parliamentary politics were to a large extent dominated by party manoeuvrings ahead of the 2022 elections that included the retroactive invalidation of the major opposition party’s last congress by the constitutional court. The killing of peaceful protesters in Cafunfo, Lunda-Norte, by the police in January set the tone for increased repression of protests, though citizen contestation was nonetheless on the rise. Foreign affairs were slow-going and the economy remained sluggish, both as an effect of the pandemic, with citizens suffering from further aggravation of costs of living.