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


African-European relations were marked by several events that appeared to illustrate a trend that has become apparent to many analysts in recent years: the world had changed, the ‘post-colonial era’ was passing into history, and Europeans could no longer take for granted that their model for development on the basis of the rule of law, human rights and democracy backed by aid flows and conditionality was one that African partners wanted to emulate. The global financial crisis, which descended into a full-scale crisis for the stability of the euro in 2010, seemed to confirm to Africans that Europeans did not have all the answers. As Libyan leader and former AU chairman Muammar Kadhafi argued, “Africa has other choices. Let every country and every group govern itself. Every country is free to serve its own interests. Africa can look to any other international bloc such as Latin America, China, India or Russia.” The attractiveness of competing political and economic models such as those of China and Russia continued to rise, at least until the last days of the year and the stirrings of popular protest against authoritarian rule and economic stagnation in North Africa.


Angola introduced a new constitution, followed by several cabinet reshuffles, which consolidated the political dominance of the governing party and strengthened the position of the president. The opposition remained fractured and ineffective. 2010 also saw the resurgence of the separatist ‘Frente para a Libertação da Enclave de Cabinda’ (FLEC) rebellion, and the continuation of repressive politics against opposition voices, regime critics and ‘separatists’, not only in Cabinda, but also in the diamond-rich Lunda provinces. President dos Santos’ first state visit to South Africa in December was arguably the high point of the year in foreign relations. Economically, Angola’s oil-dependent economy recovered from the global financial crisis, but was set back by a debt crisis in June that arose over unpaid arrears with construction firms. While the oil-driven economy turned at high speed, and infrastructure and luxury residential construction projects were undertaken and completed, the majority of the population continued to live in poverty and ill health.

The political agenda was dominated by the impending elections of March 2011. The democratic environment deteriorated in an extremely tense pre-election climate, with President Thomas Boni Yayi having to face a strong and partly unified opposition. Despite sustained protests, the government pushed ahead with the much contested electronic registration system in preparation for the 2011 presidential and legislative polls. The adverse effects of the global economic crisis continued. Economic growth slowed, despite important investments in infrastructure – such as roads and the port of Cotonou – economic measures, and initiatives to promote the private sector and boost agriculture. The worst flooding in 50 years aggravated an already precarious socioeconomic situation.

After winning a sound victory in the 2009 election, the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) underwent a split but was able to retain dominance in parliament. In foreign relations, Botswana maintained its strong stand against democratic deficits in other African countries such as Zimbabwe and Côte d’Ivoire, but was also confronted with an unfavourable ruling by the African Commission on its policy towards the country’s indigenous people, the San. Botswana’s economy quickly recovered from the international financial crisis, but diversification of the economy remained an urgent challenge. Despite ongoing efforts to fight HIV/AIDS, the epidemic persisted in threatening the country’s future.


The presidential elections dominated the political scene. Unsurprisingly, President Compaoré was re-elected for a fourth term of five years. The permanent political struggle over power issues distracted public attention from urgent policy matters such as the consequences of environmental disasters, price developments, agricultural production and education. Major social protests abruptly, but not sustainably, returned these topics to the spotlight. Heavy flooding hit tens of thousands while the population had not yet recovered from the extreme damage of the previous year. Compaoré’s international significance as a mediator slowly declined, but still remained an asset for his reputation.

The year was marked by local, presidential and legislative elections which resulted in a consolidation of the dominant position of the ‘Conseil National pour la Défense de la Démocratie – Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie’ (CNDD-FDD). In August, Pierre Nkurunziza was sworn in for his second term as president of the Republic. The fight against corruption was put forward as the top priority by the new government. A newly established coalition of opposition parties faced the dilemma of whether or not to support what may turn out to be a nascent new armed rebellion. The UN presence was scaled down, with the replacement of the Integrated Office for Burundi (BINUB) by a smaller UN Office for Burundi (BNUB). Burundi increased its contribution to the AU Mission to Somalia. The year also saw the establishment of several new institutions: the Burundi Revenue Authority, the Burundi Investment Promotion Authority, the Independent National Human Rights Commission and the Ombudsman.


As in the previous year, the 2011 presidential election was the central concern for all political actors. As if already campaigning, President Paul Biya, who does not usually travel inside the country except to his home village, made an official visit to the capital of the sensitive North-West region. There, he met for the first time his longstanding rival, John Fru Ndi, chairman of the main opposition party, which was still challenging the administration of the election. During the year, the regime had to face several scandals, including one caused by the death in custody of a journalist. The economy was depressed, major infrastructure development projects continued to be stalled and oil production continued to decline.


One year before the legislative elections scheduled for 6 February 2011, Prime Minister José Maria Neves (‘Partido Africano de Independência de Cabo Verde’, PAICV) conducted a minor cabinet reshuffle to improve his government’s image. The country strengthened ties with Europe and regional partners in both the Atlantic archipelagos and Africa. The government successfully presented the country as a reliable and relevant partner in several international forums. The important tourism industry began to recover from its decline in the previous year. New investments were concentrated in banking and infrastructure, particularly renewable energy sources.


The global financial crisis had fewer effects than originally feared on the sub-region, where the majority of oil economies quickly recovered from the previous year’s losses. Equatorial Guinea was an exception and continued to be in economic crisis mode, but still tried – successfully – to gain international prestige and influence on the sub-regional and AU level. With some of the worst armed conflicts provisionally settled (but not resolved), Central Africa looked less catastrophic than in preceding years. However, the consequences of civil wars and other armed confrontations were difficult to manage, not least with regard to IDPs and refugees, as well as transitional justice. The ICC in The Hague strongly focussed on crimes committed in Central Africa, some of them having a transnational nature.


Any achievements attained during 50 years of independence were difficult to show when the country officially celebrated the anniversary belatedly, not on 13 August, but on 1 December, the date when the legendary founding father of the Republic had declared autonomy within the ‘Communauté Française’ in 1958. Domestic politics were marked by continued clashes in the north-east and by haphazard preparations for national elections, which eventually had to be postponed to 2011. The insecurity that was prevalent on nearly all the country’s borders dominated foreign policy activities, with the UN peacekeeping mission closing down two months before the announced elections. Some movement developed in the mining sector, which had still not returned to pre-war levels.