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


The year 2004 saw several changes within Europe and Africa with the potential to impact the relationship between the two continents. Africa was not at the core of EU external relations, but achieved growing prominence on the EU's agenda. For years, the neighbouring continent to the south has been losing importance and the Cotonou Agreement was not the showcase its predecessor Lomé had been. This was less because of the reduced engagement of the EU in Africa, but rather because of the increasing European profile in other parts of the world, e.g., the Balkans and Eastern Europe. However, new developments in Africa, not least the formation of AU and NEPAD, posed new challenges to African-European relations and to Europe's reactions to change in Africa.


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.

In 2004, one year after the parliamentary elections and two years before the presidential elections in 2006, no major political challenge faced Benin, even if the succession to President Mathieu Kérékou was still on the agenda. Relations between executive and judiciary, which gave rise to mutual criticism, were still very poor. Relations with Nigeria remained one of the main features of foreign affairs and socioeconomic developments. The government maintained macroeconomic stability, but public sector workers went on strike at the end of the year. This crisis illustrated that Beninese stability remained weak in some degree.

The Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) once again secured a sound victory in the eighth post-independence elections in October. Foreign affairs were marked by apparently growing tensions with neighbouring Zimbabwe. Notwithstanding relative macroeconomic stability, the economy remained heavily dependent on diamonds, and HIV/AIDS continued to pose a formidable challenge to the country's future.


The fundamental characteristics of the situation in Burkina Faso in 2004 were the preparations for the presidential election scheduled for November 2005 and the outcome of the Ivorian crisis, a matter of deep concern for Burkina Faso, since nearly two million Burkinabè people live and work in Côte d'Ivoire. More broadly, at the sub-regional and international level, Burkina Faso was allegedly involved in certain major political issues such as the abortive coup d'état in Mauritania. Nevertheless, Burkina appears to be a central though controversial actor in West Africa. In this respect, Ouagadougou also hosted the 10th Francophone summit in November, a fact that underlines President Compaoré's influence in ‘Françafrique.’


After ten years of civil war, during 2004 Burundi seemed closer than ever to achieving a negotiated political transition. Despite a great deal of resistance, mainly from ‘Tutsi’ parties, considerable progress was made in both the political and military fields. A political dispensation was put in place, thus paving the way for elections in 2005. All but one rebel movement entered into ceasefire agreements and a new national army and police force were being established. The regional role in achieving this progress was considerable. Despite these improved prospects, continuing regional instability and the actions of domestic obstructionists, radical Tutsi movements in particular, still represented a danger for the whole transition process.


In 2004, Cameroon maintained a remarkable degree of political stability, in spite of its stark ethnic and regional cleavages. One of the most significant events was the re-election of the incumbent Paul Biya as president. This will most probably result in the continuation of the national and international policies pursued since his assumption of office in 1982. A major setback for Cameroon's socioeconomic development was the government's failure to successfully implement the three-year poverty-reduction and growth programme prescribed by the Bretton Woods institutions and Western donors.


Cape Verde has consolidated its position as a multiparty country with regular free and fair elections, a free press, high literacy rates, a vibrant civil society and three decades of political stability. On the economic front, Cape Verde has achieved a certain degree of macroeconomic stability, low levels of inflation and declining fiscal deficits. Despite a slight fall in its 2004 Human Development Index, the socioeconomic indicators are impressive as compared to other West African nations: life expectancy is above 70 years; primary and secondary school enrolment is almost 100% and 70% respectively and per capita income is rapidly approaching $ 1,500. These achievements have earned Cape Verde the dubious privilege of exiting the group of Least Developed Countries (LDC).


The sub-region continued to undergo various crises, given the spill over from the Darfur conflict into neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic (CAR) and the ongoing conflicts in eastern DR Congo and Burundi. Violent attempts to topple the regimes in Chad and Equatorial Guinea failed before they really unfolded. The simultaneous double-digit growth in the same two CEMAC countries was the most positive news. However, achieving the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 remained beyond the reach of all the countries in the sub-region. Once again, a particular concern in the region was the protection of the environment, more especially the forests of the Congo Basin. No particular progress was recorded in the area of democratisation.


Insecurity in large parts of the country and its containment was the main feature of domestic and foreign affairs and of socioeconomic developments. In its face, management of the transition after the coup of 2003 proved particularly difficult. A constitutional referendum and preparations for elections necessitated massive outside support.