Highlights of 2019 and working towards succession by Dr. Matthew Anderson

Sent On: 
Tue, 2019-12-31
Newsletter Number: 

2019 was a very eventful year. In 2018 we organized one summer school. In 2019 we organized two summer schools. In 2018 we served 50 student interns. In 2019 the number of interns increased to 64. We have reported in many of our newsletters about the work of our interns. Their contributions were substantial, but interns do need supervision and cannot be expected to produce work unsupervised. In other words, our activities increased while we lost with the end of the support of Misereor around 35% of our income. Maintaining activities in such circumstances is extremely difficult.


Dr. Matthew Anderson, assistant professor of Islamic studies at Georgetown University, is committed to start work in September 2021 with me retiring from the day-to-day management of the CIDT office and Arab-West Report. We have to bridge these two years with more work and less income. This means a substantial loss of income for me unless new sources of income can be found.


I would like to highlight here some recently uploaded reports that are key for understanding Egypt and differences between Egypt and the West.


Italian intern Erica Canova wrote an excellent paper about the concept of honor and shame. In Egypt preserving one’s honor and preventing shame is key. Of course, there are differences in what is believed to be honor and shame between a large metropolitan city as Cairo and rural Egypt. Of course, there are differences in understanding honor and shame between people of different social classes. But whatever the differences are, understanding the concept of honor and shame is extremely important for understanding people’s responses to events. Please read her paper here.


German intern Anna-Maria Horschig described the cultural differences she experienced as a German girl in a traditional honor and shame culture in Egypt. Anna-Maria also provided a good overview of the activities she was involved in. She, in particular, helped to standardize our database of 55.000 articles which is a huge undertaking but needed to make our database meet Western university library standards. Please read about her experiences and work here. In the coming two years much more will need to be done so that once Dr. Matthew Anderson comes he can build on a database that truly is a goldmine for each researcher who wants to understand contemporary Egypt.


The last paper in 2019 was my paper on Coptic demographics. Christians in Egypt often claim that they make up anywhere between 15% and 24% of the population while available evidence shows that a percentage of 6% may be closer to the truth. Church and state do not want official government statistics to be published. This is related to political interests. Maintaining claims of higher numbers keeps the pressure on demands for Coptic rights which is understandable since these rights were much ignored in history. Discussing Coptic population figures is thus a very sensitive issue. I am grateful for the different scholars who have looked at this paper and provided feedback. Please read more here.


We need your continued support for our work. Donations are possible through the Stichting Arab-West Foundation and are tax deductible for Dutch tax payers. Please visit their donation page here.


You also support us through subscribing to our newsletter since donor organizations look at the number of subscribers we have. Please recommend others to subscribe to our newsletter. I recently explained the importance of this here.



December 31, 2019


Cornelis Hulsman,

Editor-in-Chief Arab-West Report