SOAS University of London

SOAS PhD graduate honoured in 2014 BRISMES Leigh Douglas Memorial Prize

26 June 2014
Dr Fabian Stremmel

SOAS, University of London PhD graduate Dr Fabian Stremmel has been awarded an 'Honourable Mention' by the 2014 British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) Leigh Douglas Memorial Prize for his thesis.

BRISMES, set up in 1973, promotes and encourages the study of the Middle East in the United Kingdom and world class research across a wide range of disciplines. The prize itself was established in the name of a former SOAS PhD student, Leigh Douglas. Douglas taught for a number of years at the American University of Beirut, but was abduction and murdered in Lebanon in April 1986. The prize was seen as a fitting memorial to his life and work.

Dr Stremmel’s thesis ‘Changing approaches and new structures: German cultural diplomacy in Syria and Lebanon during the late Kaiserreich up to 1918’ examines the Near Eastern diplomacy of the German Kaiserreich. The judges described the work as a “meticulous study of this era… examining both the drivers of these policies in Berlin and the ways in which they played out in the Levant."

They added: "Following a number of case studies with care and excellent attention to detail, the dissertation builds up a convincing picture of the motivations and the outcomes of these policies of language and technical instruction…. In doing so, it brings to light a series of developments that have been somewhat ignored in the literature, but that helped to constitute the emerging elites and intelligentsia of the Arab provinces in the late Ottoman Empire. It therefore meets an important need in the historical understanding of the Levant in the early 20th century."

Dr Stremmel said: “I am extremely happy and feel deeply honoured by this prize. I am immensely grateful to BRISMES and the judges of the Leigh Douglas Memorial Prize. At the same time I would like to thank the many people and organisations that have supported me over the course of my PhD research.

“The prize also crowned a wonderful time at SOAS in which I completed my BA, MA and PhD. It was an incredibly stimulating experience and has been one of the best times of my life. The excellent supervision by Konrad Hirschler, the unique resources of SOAS, the inspiration from SOAS’ diverse community, especially my fellow history PhD students, have made this award possible.

Dr Stremmel was supervised by Dr Konrad Hirschler, Reader in the History of the Near and Middle East at SOAS and examined by Fred Anscombe, Senior Lecturer in Department of History at Birkbeck, University of London and Professor Christopher Clark, Faculty of History, University of Cambridge.