By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘A Pioneer of Critical Theory’Capping its announcements of 2021 winners, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award in Abu Dhabi has named German philosopher Jürgen Habermas its Cultural Personality of the Year.
Along with the program’s other winners—reported on April 22—this award is to be conferred during the annual awards ceremony in May during the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, and will come with a medal, a certificate, and a cash award of 1 million UAE dirhams (US$272,257). That purse, along with 750,000 UAE dirhams (US$204,181) for winners of each of the eight book categories in the program, makes the Sheikh Zayed Book Award one of the wealthiest portfolios of publishing-related honors in the world, worth a total of 7 million dirhams (US$1.9 million).
As media messaging from Abu Dhabi is putting it, Habermas is being honored for “a long career that extends for more than half a century.” At 91, Habermas is a native of Gummersbach, 30 miles east of Köln, and today (April 29) is being called “one of the most influential philosophers of the world” by the Zayed Award program. He’s honored by the prize as “a pioneer of critical theory” and as a mentor “for many theorists in political sociology, social theory, and social philosophy.”
Since the 1960s, Habermas work had been known in part for its influence relative to the Institute for Social Research at Goethe University Frankfurt—based in the Weimar-era Frankfurt School of critical philosophy and social theory. (As Nazism rose, the institute would move in 1933 first to Geneva and then in 1935 to New York City, relocating in 1953 to Frankfurt.)
Readings in Habermas’ Work
In naming Habermas, the Sheikh Zayed Book Award cites 10 works, some of them translated into Arabic, that are reflective of his concepts around communicative rationality:
- Al Qawl Al Falsafy Lel Hadatah (Philosophical Discourse of Modernity), translated by Fatema Al Jayouchi, Ministry of Culture, Damascus, 1995
- Al Falsafah Al Almanyah wa Al Tasawof Al Yahoudy (German Philosophy of Jewish Sufism), translated by Natheer Nahel, Arab Cultural Club 1995
- Al Maarefah wa Al Maslaha (Knowledge and Human Interests), translated by Hassan Saqr, Manshorat Al Jamal 2001
- Al Hadatah wa Khetaboha Al Siyasi (Modernity and Political Discourse), translated by George Tamer, Dar An-Nahar 2002
- Al Elem wa Al Taqnyah Kaydologia (Science and Technology as Ideology) translated by Hassan Saqr, Manshorat Al Jamal 2003
- Mostaqbal Al Tabe’ah Al Insanyah Nahwa Nesalah Libraryah (The Future of Human Nature Toward a Liberal Phylogeny), translated by George Katourah, Bibliothèque Orientale 2006
- Baad Marx (Post-Marxism), translated by Mohammad Milad, Damascus, Dar Al Hiwar, 2002
- Al Elem wa Al Taqnyah Kaydologia (Science and Technology as Ideology) translated by Ali Mawla, Beirut, Manshorat Al Jamal 2011
- Al Akhlaq wa Al Tawsol (Ethics and Communication), supervision: Ahmad Abdel Halim Attyah, Al Maktaba Al Falsafyah, Dar Al Tanweer Publishing and Distribution, Beirut, 2012
- Itikya Al Monaqashah wa Masa’alt Al haqeqa (Attica of Discussion: The Question of Truth), translated by Omar Mohabel, Beirut, Arab Scientific Publishers, 2010
There is, organizers of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award say, “extensive scholarly research on Habermas that discusses aspects of his philosophy” in the context of receptivity.
And in terms of works that examine Habermas’ work in terms of the Frankfurt School, they point to:
- Abdel Ghaffar Mekkawi, The Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School: Introduction and Critical Commentary, Cairo, Hendawy Foundation 2017
- Phil Slater, The Frankfurt School, Its Origins and Objectives: A Marxist Viewpoint, translated by Khalil Kalfat, the National Centre for Translation
- Kamal Bomener, Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School, Arab Science House, 2010
Last year’s Cultural Personality of the Year winner was the Palestinian poet, writer, translator, and anthologist Salma Khadra Jayyusi.
More from Publishing Perspectives on the Sheikh Zayed Book Award is here, more on Arabic literature is here, and more on translation is here. More from us on publishing and book awards in the international industry is here. Publishing Perspectives is the media partner of the Sheikh Zayed Book Award.
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