The University of Exeter, which has one of the leading institutes of Arab and Islamic Studies in the United Kingdom, awarded honorary degrees to 2 distinguished intellectuals – Professor Edward Said and Professor Mohamed Arkoun on April 18, 2001. Professors Said and Arkoun were presented with honorary Doctor of Letters degrees in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the field of Arab and Islamic Studies.
The presentation took place before the start of an international symposium entitled “Orientalism Reconsidered”, at which both Professors Said and Arkoun gave keynote addresses. Professor Tim Niblock, Head of Exeter University’s Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, said: “It gives us huge pleasure to be able to demonstrate our admiration for the work of these two world class scholars, whose writing and lectures have transformed the field in which we all work. This will be one of the highpoints of an exciting year for the Institute, in which we open a wonderful new building and launch an exciting range of new programmes.”
In his keynote address, Professor Mohamed Arkoun, a member of The Institute of Ismaili Studies’s Board of Governors, stated that the degree ceremony was a ‘symbolic event’ and that by choosing to honour Edward Said and himself, the university had recognised the relevance of the discussion and approach that the two scholars have tried to introduce to the field of Islamic Studies. Author of the groundbreaking work Orientalism (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978), Edward Said is known for his incisive political commentary and research in the field of comparative literature. Professor Arkoun’s own academic career has promoted an epistemological approach to the study of cultures and civilisations.