Karen Armstrong Receives British Academy Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Transcultural Understanding

Celebrated British author and religious commentator Karen Armstrong has won the inaugural British Academy Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Transcultural Understanding. The jury awarded the £25,000 prize in recognition of her body of work that has made a significant contribution to understanding the elements of overlap and commonality in different cultures and religions. Responding to the award, Karen Armstrong said:

“I am so honoured to receive this prize. I am also most grateful to Dr Nayef Al-Rodhan and the British Academy for drawing attention in this way to the need for transcultural understanding. One of the chief tasks of our time must surely be to build a global community where people of all ethnicities and ideologies can live together in harmony and mutual respect: if we do not achieve this, it is unlikely that we will have a viable world to hand on to the next generation. Religion should be making a contribution to this endeavour but, sadly, for obvious reasons, it is often seen as part of the problem. Yet I have been enriched and enlightened by my study of other faith traditions because I am convinced that they have much of value to teach us about our predicament in our tragically polarized world.”

The Nayef Al-Rodhan Prize for Transcultural Understanding, which is open to nominations from around the world, is a new award from the British Academy. It is named after International Relations scholar, Dr Nayef Al-Rodhan, who is the author of numerous works, including The Role of the Arab-Islamic World in the Rise of the West: Implications for Contemporary Trans-Cultural Relations (2012). This new prize – worth £25,000 and to be awarded annually for five years – is designed to honour outstanding work illustrating the interconnected nature of cultures and civilizations. Dr Nayef Al-Rodhan has said of this prize:

“Positive transcultural understanding and synergy is not only morally appropriate but also necessary for the sustainable future of our globalized world. The multi-sum security nature of our connected and interdependent world makes such positive interactions an important pre-requisite for transcultural security, national security of all states, and the security and stability of the whole global system.”

Sir Adam Roberts, President of the British Academy, will say at the award ceremony on 4 July:

“This is the British Academy’s newest and biggest prize, and we are deeply grateful to Nayef Al-Rodhan for having initiated it. Much of the Academy’s work – in a huge range of subjects from classical antiquity to modern politics and international relations – draws attention to the elements of sharing, borrowing and even theft of ideas between different civilizations. The British Academy is delighted to inaugurate this very special prize. A distinguished jury, chaired by Dame Helen Wallace, Foreign Secretary of the Academy, selected the winner. From a large and impressive field they have made a brilliant choice.”

Photo credit of Karen Armstrong: (c) Michael Lionstar (all rights cleared) .JPG