Press Releases

Press release, 07/13/2010

The 2010 Gerda Henkel Prize goes to the expert on Islamic studies, Gudrun Krämer

The 2010 Gerda Henkel Prize, worth € 100,000, goes to the Berlin-based expert on Islamic studies Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Gudrun Krämer. The biennial award was established in 2006 to honour academic researchers who have demonstrated outstanding achievements in the disciplines and funding areas supported by the Gerda Henkel Foundation. In the years since it was established in 1976 the Düsseldorf-based Gerda Henkel Foundation has been funding research projects in the historical humanities, and this was extended a few years ago to also embrace topics that do not have an exclusively historical orientation. In Gudrun Krämer, the Gerda Henkel Prize has for the first time been awarded to a representative of Islamic studies. The Gerda Henkel Foundation has since 2009 been promoting its own special programme on “Islam, the modern nation state and transnational movements”. Awarding of the prize to Gudrun Krämer will take place on 8th November 2010, in Düsseldorf.

The unanimous decision of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees followed the recommendation made by a panel comprising academic and political personalities together with members of the Foundation’s Academic Advisory Committee. In the chair was Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Wolfgang Frühwald. In justification of its decision the panel issued the following statement: “Gudrun Krämer is an historian known for her well-researched sources, sound methodology and linguistic clarity. She investigates, illustrates and elucidates, critically and yet with obvious affection for her research field, the history, culture, religion and ideology of Muslims to arrive at explanatory models which apply equally to ongoing conflicts. Her expansive style has won her an audience extending far beyond the confines of her subject. Gudrun Krämer seeks out controversial subjects for her work which has enabled her to become a sought-after, plain-speaking and discerning expert in politics and the media on the topical issues arising from our interaction with Islam und Islamism, whilst maintaining her academic reputation.”

“Gudrun Krämer’s work helps us to obtain far deeper understanding of Islamic cultures and societies“, states Dr. Michael Hanssler, Chairman of the Gerda Henkel Foundation’s Executive Board. “Working from a sound historical basis, the winner of the 2010 Gerda Henkel Prize is then able to give us a more nuanced view of our everyday reality”.

Born in Marburg in 1953, Gudrun Krämer studied History, Islamic and Political Studies, and English Studies, in Heidelberg, Bonn and Sussex between 1972 and 1978. She obtained her Doctorate in Islamic Studies in 1982 at the University of Hamburg, with a research paper on the Jewish minority in Egypt. This was followed by several years as advisor on Middle Eastern Affairs at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Ebenhausen, near Munich. Obtaining a postdoctoral qualification in 1993 with a paper on the topic of “God’s State as a Republic” she took up a professorship in Islamic Studies at the University of Bonn in 1994. In 1996 she accepted a chair at the Free University of Berlin. Guest lectureships and professorships took her to Cairo, Bologna, Paris, Jakarta, Erfurt and Beirut. Since 2007 Gudrun Krämer has also been Director of the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies of the Free University of Berlin, which was established as part of the German government’s Excellence Initiative. She is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities and honorary doctor at Tashkent Islamic University. She also belongs to the advisory committees and boards of trustees of the Aga Khan University, Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, London, of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Bonn, the Federal Agency for Civic Education, Bonn, and the “Cultural Foundations of Integration/Disintegration“ Centre of Excellence at the University of Konstanz. Gudrun Krämer is co-editor of the “Encyclopaedia of Islam Three”. Her publications in German include her works “History of Palestine” (2002) and “History of Islam” (2005) which have appeared in several editions. Most recently in 2010 she published “Hasan al-Banna“, a biography in English of Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.

The Gerda Henkel Foundation
The Foundation was established in 1976 in Düsseldorf by Lisa Maskell in memory of her mother, Gerda Henkel, as a non-profit-making foundation under private law. The exclusive aim of the foundation is the advancement of academic research, primarily in the historical humanities. The Foundation is active in Germany and abroad. In the 34 years of its existence it has funded some 5,000 research projects to the tune of around € 82 million, and in the past year has provided subsidies for 365 projects totalling around € 7.4 million.

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