Nikki Ragozin Keddie

2004 Balzan Prize for the Islamic World from the End of the 19th to the End of the 20th Century

For a remarkable contribution to our knowledge of the Islamic world in the 20th century, and particularly of the encounter between Muslim religion and thought and the spiritual and political values of the West.

Professor Nikki Keddie has had a brilliant academic career. She has published numerous works, which have earned her a pre-eminent place in the world of Middle Eastern studies, and she has displayed great diversity of interests and skills. Nikki Keddie is Professor Emerita of the History of the Middle East at the University of California at Los Angeles. She worked with Professor von Grunebaum in the development of Middle Eastern studies, both at Los Angeles and throughout the United States. She has guided the research of a great number of students with authority and competence, enlivened teams of researchers, and trained historians of the Middle East whose renown is steadily increasing. In her doctoral thesis, she analysed the impact of the West on modern Iranian social history. During the past four decades, her scholarly work has focused especially upon Iran. The reaction of the Muslim world to imperialism is another problem on which she has concentrated, stressing the role of Islam as an ingredient in the opposition to it. Since her first works, she has reflected on the effects of the encounter between Islam and the West, Islam and domination. It should be emphasised that this approach, which today motivates many researchers, was, at the time when her earlier books – Religion and Rebellion in Iran: The Tobacco Protest of 1891-1892 (1966), and An Islamic Response to Imperialism (1968) – appeared, limited to a few isolated researchers. Their publications have progressively opened up the fundamental theme of confrontation, the meeting of Islam with the West.

Her great biography of Sayyid Jamal ad-Din “al-Afghani” has had a decisive influence on research on the specific nature of nationalism and liberation movements in the East. Subsequently, Nikki Keddie has written the classic Roots of Revolution: An Interpretive History of Modern Iran (1981), revised and updated as Modern Iran: Roots and Results of Revolution (2003). She has been working for years on themes such as secularism, fundamentalism and the place of women in Islamic Society, which have only recently come to concern the academic community at large. In addition, she founded and edited the wide-ranging journal “Contention: Debates in Society, Culture, and Science” (1991-1996), and has produced professional-quality photographs that have been exhibited and published. The Balzan Prize is awarded to Nikki Keddie in recognition of the wide-ranging scope of her publications, the depth and originality of her thought, and her pioneering concern with problems which are increasingly relevant today

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Fondazione Internazionale Premio Balzan