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The Holberg Prize 2014 is awarded to scholar of Islamic history

The British historian Michael Cook is awarded 'the Nobel Prize of the arts, humanities, social sciences, law and theology;' Terje Lohndal is the youngest recipient ever to be awarded the Nils Klim Prize

The University of Bergen


IMAGE: Michael Cook is University Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. He is the first British Holberg Prize Laureate. view more

Credit: Photo: Denise Applewhite

The Chair of the Holberg Board, Sigmund Grønmo, announced the winners in Bergen today, March 11. The official award ceremony will take place June 4 in Bergen where the prizes will be presented to the laureates by H.R.H. Crown Prince Haakon and the Minister of Education and Research, Torbjørn Røe Isaksen.

According to the Holberg Committee Cook is awarded the prize for developing new perspectives on the relationship between religion, politics and law within Islam. Through his research he emphasizes the role of religious values in the formation of Islamic civilization from the mediaeval period to the present.

Widely published scholar- from English to Persian

Michael Cook has reshaped fields that span from Ottoman studies to the history of the Wahhabiyya movement. He was also among the first scholars to apply non-Islamic sources to the study of the genesis of early Islam.

His research has been translated into many languages; Japanese, Arabic and Persian to mention a few. During spring 2014 Cook will publish another book which explores why Islam has gained a prominent political role in our time.

The Holberg Prize amounts to 4,5 million Norwegian kroner and has been called 'the Nobel Prize of the arts, humanities, social sciences, law and theology'.

The youngest Nils Klim-laureate ever

The linguist, Terje Lohndal (1985), is the youngest recipient of the Nils Klim Prize ever. The Prize amounts to 250 000 Norwegian kroner.

Lohndal receives the Prize due to the originality of his many publications on a high international level.

Lohndal is already an international household name within the linguistics. His research is often characterized as Chomskyan linguistics and formal grammar. Lohndal himself says that he wants to understand the human language faculty.

I want to know whether there are any language-specific mechanisms at work, and what the interplay between the language faculty and general cognition is. It is an incredibly ambitious and demanding project. Specifically I am looking at the interplay between language structure and meaning, says Lohndal.

Lohndal is educated at the University of Oslo and received his PhD-degree at the Department of language and literature.



Michael Cook (1940):

Professor at the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University.

Selected titles include Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong, A Brief History of the Human Race and The Quran: A very short Introduction.

His new book Ancient Religions, Modern Politics: The Islamic Case in Comparative Perspective will be published on Princeton University Press, in spring 2014

More information available from the The Holberg Prize website:

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