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


European awareness that Africa was changing fast and that many dimensions of the Africa-Europe relationship would also have to change deepened in 2011. The dawning realisation that the tired stereotype of ‘rich’ Europe and ‘poor’ Africa was becoming less appropriate began to be reflected in the tone of policy statements and the placing of new emphasis on business relationships in European and African capitals. The influential British publication ‘The Economist’ even led its 3 December edition with a piece entitled “The hopeful continent: Africa rising”. Nevertheless, for many Europeans, relations with the rest of the world were overshadowed by the ongoing sovereign debt crisis and existential questions about the EU’s future that the crisis forced them to face. Such navel-gazing was not conducive to long-term European policymaking in a momentous year marked by the ‘Arab Spring’, which toppled several North African governments and sent shock-waves through the rest of Africa. Major events in Sub-Saharan Africa from a European perspective included the post-election violence in Côte d’Ivoire, the devastating famine in the Horn of Africa, the independence of South Sudan, and ongoing instability in Somalia and the Sahel. From an African perspective, if introspectiveness prevented Europeans from responding adequately to fast-moving events and taking steps to deepen relationships with African countries and institutions, there were other options for partnerships – most notably China.


The first openly anti-government protests in Luanda and provincial capitals were met with bellicose rhetoric and swift intervention by security forces, showing a certain degree of nervousness on the part of the government. The demonstrations also highlighted the unanswered question of who would succeed President dos Santos, whose dominance of the political system was strongly felt, both among members of the ruling party and by the political and popular opposition. Despite growing popular discontent, opposition parties remained fractured and ineffective. Abroad, Angola emphasised South-South partnerships. The country also consolidated its standing with economic and political initiatives, namely in Guinea-Bissau, although it came under pressure for its stance in the Ivoirian crisis. The economy picked up again after a debt crisis in the previous year, although the majority of the population remained mired in poverty, confined to the informal sector and with low levels of education and health.

The main issue of the year was the presidential and legislative elections planned for February and April. Despite protests over the functioning of the computerised electoral register, the electoral process and the results of the polls, incumbent President Thomas Boni Yayi succeeded in remaining at the helm of the state. The overall pre- and post-electoral process was marked by high levels of social and political tension. Although he faced fierce opposition from a broad-based coalition, the president was able to gain a dominant position in the Assembly. This new political deal caused new splits among opposition political parties and transfers towards the political majority. The adverse effects of the global economic crisis continued to put pressure on the country’s economic growth, despite important investment in infrastructure (particularly roads and the Port of Cotonou), economic measures and initiatives to promote the private sector, and efforts to implement reforms, boost diversification and reinvigorate the cotton sector. Industrial action hit numerous sectors, including education and health.

This was an interesting year on the domestic political landscape. Despite the first split to rock the ruling Botswana Democratic Party (BDP), which led to the formation of the Botswana Movement for Democracy (BMD) in 2010, the BDP remained a major dominant force. In line with the principles that informed its foreign policy, Botswana continued to make its voice heard on the international stage on matters of democracy, good governance and human rights. Its economy, highly vulnerable to external shocks, showed strong signs of recovery from the global financial crisis. The country continued to be plagued by some social ills, particularly HIV/AIDS, which remained a priority concern.


Widespread public protests, by military rank and file, struggling farmers and ordinary citizens alike, dominated the political headlines. Countrywide social unrest after a high-school student was allegedly tortured to death by police soon turned into demands for broader economic and social reforms. Military mutinies resulted in a government reshuffle and a political reform process. Political developments in Côte d’Ivoire and Libya led to a deterioration in the country’s political standing in the sub-region. Macroeconomic forecasts projected solid growth.

The year was marked by the aftermath of the 2010 elections. Political developments and rising insecurity were closely related to the continued contestation of these elections and their impact on the functioning of several political parties. Attempts at consolidating the dominant position of the ruling ‘Conseil National pour la Défense de la Démocratie-Forces pour la Défense de la Démocratie’ (CNDD-FDD) gave rise to a further restriction of the political space for opposition parties and civil society movements. New self-proclaimed rebel movements did not constitute a significant threat for the incumbent government’s control over Burundian territory. The UN presence in Burundi was extended for another year. Burundi continued and increased its engagement with the AU Mission to Somalia. The year also saw the launch of the activities of the Independent National Human Rights Commission and the Office of the Ombudsman. The number of extrajudicial executions was on the rise. Further steps were taken to prepare the establishment of a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission in early 2012. Hunger levels remained alarming. Burundi considerably improved its ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report. The recently established Burundi Revenue Office contributed to a significant increase in domestic revenue collection.


The presidential election was without doubt the most important event of the year, although it took place against a background of general indifference. Unsurprisingly, 78-year-old President Paul Biya, already one of Africa’s longest serving presidents (29 years), was re-elected against competition from 22 other candidates (a record) for a further term of seven years, receiving 78% of the votes, according to official figures. The leader of the Social Democratic Front (SDF), John Fru Ndi, seen as Biya’s main opponent, received only 10% of the votes, his lowest ever result. NGOs and opposition political parties reported widespread fraud and described the organisation of the polls as chaotic. Throughout the year social tension was high, and the authorities maintained a high security force presence in public spaces.


In February Prime Minister José Maria Neves became the first Cape Verdean head of government to win three consecutive absolute majorities in parliament. In August, however, the candidate of the ruling party surprisingly lost the presidential election to Jorge Carlos Fonseca, an independent candidate backed by the opposition. Consequently, for the first time since the democratic transition in 1991, the president and the prime minister now came from different political parties. As a result of the turmoil in North Africa, the archipelago’s tourism sector benefited from a significant increase in the number of foreign visitors, but the approval of two reduced budgets nevertheless reflected the impact of the international financial crisis on Cape Verde.


The “super election year” for the sub-region, with presidential elections held in five out of eight countries and legislative elections in four, did not bring any surprises. The autocratic regimes confirmed and sometimes tightened their grip on power and the single democracy of the sub-region continued its tradition of balancing representation between different political currents within the legislative and executive branches of government as a result of presidential elections. There were no spectacular changes with regard to economic and social developments. Sub-regional organisations were particularly passive during the year and held no major summits.


For most Central Africans this was another painful year during which they endured widespread violence. Armed clashes continued, particularly in the periphery of the country. Democratic standards declined, not least because of suspect elections for the presidency and the National Assembly. Not surprisingly, both were won by the regime in power. All available data on the social situation presented a miserable picture. President Bozizé tried to diversify his international ties, both in the sub-region and beyond.