23 January 2014
Gilbert Achcar, Professor of Development Studies and International Relations at SOAS, University of London was presented with the Phoenix Award for his latest book The People Want at a prestigious ceremony held in Beirut last week.
The Phoenix Prize was established in 1996 and is awarded annually to books written in French by Lebanese writers, or French-authored books related to Lebanon. The award's judging panel is chaired by famous Lebanese author and member of the Académie française, Amin Maalouf. Professor Achcar received this year's award jointly with well-known French author Sorj Chalandon for his novel Le Quatrième mur.
The People Want analyses the specific socio-economic features that hindered the region’s development leading to its political explosion and draws up a balance sheet of the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria. The scholar argues that what we have witnessed to date is only the beginning of a revolutionary process that is likely to extend for many more years to come.
Taking place in the reconstructed down-town centre of Beirut, the award ceremony was presented by Alexandre Najjar, an award-winning Lebanese novelist and literary critic, and attended by the Ambassador of France as well by a large number of friends and relatives of Professor Achcar, including SOAS students who have attended his courses and/or worked under his supervision.
During his visit to Beirut, Professor Achcar suggested to his Lebanese students to launch a SOAS Lebanon Association, which would regroup Lebanese SOAS alumni and current students. The idea was enthusiastically received by the students, who started working on it.