Culture and Climate

    About Fikrun

    Fikrun wa Fann was a cultural magazine published by the Goethe Institute from 1963 to 2016 that supported and shaped the cultural exchange between Germany and Islamic countries. Together with the publishing of the last issue, “Flight and Displacement” (issue 105), in autumn of 2016 the maintenance and updating of this online portal was ceased.
    © Charlotte Collins


    Climate change and environmental pollution are among the most urgent problems affecting the world today. Tackling the ensuing dangers is, however, a difficult task, and one that calls for a measure of decisiveness humanity repeatedly fails to muster. There are many reasons for this, and they are not only material in nature but also cultural. By Stefan WeidnerMore ...
    Crude oil reserved in reservoirs in the clay soil lined with heavyduty waterproof fabric, waiting for distillation. Bayelsa State, 2011. From the exhibition: Letzte Ölung Nigerdelta (Last Rites Niger Delta). Staatliches Museum für
Völkerkunde, Munich, 16.11.2012 - 15.09.2013. Photo: Timipre Willis-Amah © Goethe-Institut

    The Call to Eco-Jihad
    The Islamic Environmental Movement

    Gradually – and unnoticed by most Muslims – Muslim intellectuals and scholars have, since the late 1960s, been developing an Islamic environmental theology. Their aim is to examine green principles such as sustainability, environmental protection, animal welfare, and biodiversity in terms of their compatibility with Islam. By Monika ZbidiMore ...
    Garbage collectors beside the Solo river in Java. Fom the Goethe-Institut exhibition RiverScapes. Photo: Budi N. D. Dharmawan © Goethe-Institut

    ‘We Must Cultivate Our Garden’
    Cultural Dimensions of Global Environmental Issues

    The desire to have clean sources of energy, a healthy environment, and fewer emissions may often seem like a luxury at a time when so many around the world are fighting just to survive. The reality is, however, that no one can afford not to think about environmental issues. It has become evident that shaping the future of life on our planet is not only a technical and economic process, but a cultural one too. By Susanne StemmlerMore ...
    Ferry for school children on the Solo river in Java. From the Goethe-Institut exhibition RiverScapes. Photo: Budi N. D. Dharmawan © Goethe-Institut

    Thinking in the Future Perfect
    Climate Change as Social Change

    Climate change is forcing us to rethink our hypermobile lifestyle. This also constitutes an opportunity, and confronts us with the question of how we actually want to live. Climate change is offering us a procedure to resolve the problem of our future living conditions. Looming natural disaster is forcing human beings to address the question of what kind of society they want to live in in the future. By Claus LeggewieMore ...
    Lake Mývatn in northern Iceland. An isolated volcanic island in the mid-Atlantic, Iceland has one of the cleanest environments on the planet. Its water, coming from natural springs and glaciers and filtered through layers of volcanic rock, is exceptionally pure. Photo: Charlotte Collins © Goethe-Institut

    Climate of the Future
    Why It’s So Difficult to Respond to Climate Change

    The concept of climate implies both effectuation and endurance – an ambivalence it shares with the concept of culture itself. Is this the reason why it is so difficult to agree on concrete measures for implementing climate protection on a cultural level? By Thomas MachoMore ...
    La Jamais Contente, the fastest vehicle of its day, in 1899. Photo: Archive © Goethe-Institut

    Climate, Eco and Green Technology
    How Environmental Problems Are Reflected in Language

    Awareness of environmental problems since the 1960s has also generated its own language in societies in which these problems are frequently discussed. German in particular has a wealth of new words that have evolved from environmental issues. Our translators and readers can decide for themselves whether the other languages of Fikrun wa Fann / Art & Thought also have equivalents. By Rolf-Bernhard EssigMore ...
    Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. Photo: Charlotte Collins © Goethe-Institut

    Requiem For the Future
    Writing a Novel about Catastrophic Climate Change

    Although climate change is one of the most urgent problems of the present day, very few attempts have been made to address the topic in literature. Ilija Trojanow’s novel Eistau [Melting Ice] is one exception. In the following article the author explains why he took this as his theme. By Ilija TrojanowMore ...
    Scene on the streets of Java. From the Goethe-Institut exhibition RiverScapes. Photo: Budi N. D. Dharmawan © Goethe-Institut

    Gardens in Islam
    A Tradition for the Protection of the Environment?

    In Late Antiquity, and the Middle Ages in particular, the Orient was famed for its exquisite ornamental gardens. These gardens were the most beautiful symbiosis of culture and nature, benefiting humans and nature equally. Today, although ornamental gardens in the Orient are under threat from urbanisation and population growth, they offer humankind numerous ideas as to how to deal sensibly with nature in the future. By Eckart EhlersMore ...
    A woman on a motorbike. From the exhibition Augenblick Afghanistan (Snapshot of Afghanistan) at the Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde, Munich, 16.11.2012 - 15.9.2013. Photo: Nasim Seyamak © Goethe-Institut

    I Pollute, Therefore I Am
    The Problem of Environmental Pollution in Afghanistan

    Afghanistan’s environmental problems are not much smaller than its security problems; in fact, the two are directly linked. On the one hand there are the tentative attempts made by the Afghan environmental authorities to raise awareness; on the other, a low level of environmental awareness among the people, which is surprising given that Afghans traditionally have a very close relationship with nature. By Taqi AkhlaqiMore ...
    A German soldier and an Afghan child flying a kite. From the exhibition Augenblick Afghanistan (Snapshot of Afghanistan) at the Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde, Munich, 16.11.2012 - 15.9.2013. Photo: Bundeswehr © Goethe-Institut

    ‘We Are All in the Same Boat’
    Interview with Kazim Homayun

    We asked Kazim Homayun, the head of planning at the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA), about Afghanistan’s official efforts to protect its environment and the obstacles that its environmentalists have to overcome. By Taqi AkhlaqiMore ...
    Garbage and resistance graffiti depicting the imprisoned Palestinian politician Marwan Barghouti on the so-called separation wall between the West Bank and Israel, near the Qalandia checkpoint. Photo: Stefan Weidner © Goethe-Institut

    The Environment and Climate Change in Palestine and the Arab World
    An Overview

    The environment and its problems are some of the greatest challenges facing the world today, whether at the level of people or governments. And while the world’s nations attribute varying degrees of importance to these challenges, Arab countries in particular have a distinctly long list of concerns and priorities that have taken precedence over the environment and climate change. By Ziad Mimi and Nidal KatibaMore ...
    Mountains drowning in their own rubble: This aerial photograph of the central highlands of Iran shows the talus cones mantling the mountains, as well as recent drainage channels indicative of precipitation. The image is evidence of the effects of both geological and contemporary climatic events. Photo: Georg Gerster. From Paradise Lost: Persia from Above by Georg Gerster © Phaidon, London 2008

    Climate and Landscape Change in the Orient:
    The Iranian Highlands

    Climate change poses less of a threat to the wealthy countries of the North than to those in the South and the Middle East. Yet we know little of how exactly climate change will affect the regions most at risk. The following article illustrates the threat by taking the highlands of Iran as an example. By Eckart EhlersMore ...
    A young man at a protest rally on Isaac Adaka Boro day, which commemorates the late activist for minority rights in the Niger delta. Kalama, Bayelsa State, Nigeria, 2005. From the exhibition: Letzte Ölung Nigerdelta (Last Rites Niger Delta). Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde, Munich, 16.11.2012 - 15.9.2013. Photo: George Osodi © Goethe-Institut

    Real Energy World
    The Dark Side of Business As Usual

    Oil is the engine of and a key resource for our economic wellbeing, and at the present time it appears to be irreplaceable as the fuel for industry. But the real price is paid by others, for example the people in Nigeria who live close to the oil fields exploited by Western companies. By Eva UrsprungMore ...
    Jan Zalasiewicz and the cat Philou, 11.1.2013 Photo: Sebastian Bolesch © Haus der Kulturen der Welt

    Man or Nature?
    The Idea of the Anthropocene

    The Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin has turned its attention to the idea of the Anthropocene, the geological era of human beings, in a wide-ranging series of exhibitions. Nature and climate are no longer natural in the original sense of the word, but man-made. What does this signify for our concept of ourselves? Alem Grabovac attended the opening of the exhibition in Berlin for Fikrun wa Fann / Art & Thought. By Alem GrabovacMore ...
    In the oil town of Afiesere, in Warri North district of the Niger delta, local Urohobo people bake ‘krokpo-garri’, or tapioca in the heat of a gas flare. Since 1961, when Shell Petroleum development Company first opened this flow station, residents of the local community have worked in this way. The life span of these people is short, as pollutants from the flare cause serious health problems. From the exhibition: Letzte Ölung Nigerdelta (Last Rites Niger Delta). Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde, Munich, 16.11.2012 - 15.09.2013. Photo: Ed Kashi © Goethe-Institut

    ‘Women Are More Vulnerable’
    An Interview on Gender and Climate Change

    Climate change affects women to a much greater extent than men. As the coordinator of the ‘Gender CC – Women for Climate Justice’ network, Marion Rolle is committed to establishing gender justice in the field of climate politics. This is a discussion on differences and local solutions. By Sonja PeteranderlMore ...


      A member of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) from the platoon Uweis al-Qurani runs through the debris in Sheikh Said, a poor neighbourhood in the south of Aleppo. Mohammed Rias kiru, 37, known as Sheikh Na’aimi, is the commander of the platoon. Eight of his brothers fight in the same unit. The scene shows the neighbourhood twenty minutes after an air strike that missed the platoon as they were close to Syrian army positions. The plane dropped just one bomb, which pulverised two buildings in a neighbouring street. This is the collateral damage from the bomb. Syria, January 2013. Photo: Kai Wiedenhöfer © Goethe-Institut

      The Need for an Inclusive Perspective
      In Praise of Razan Zaitouneh, Winner of the Ibn Rushd Prize

      In November 2012 the Syrian human rights activist Razan Zaitouneh was awarded the Ibn Rushd Prize. Udo Steinbach gave the laudatory speech explaining the global political background to Razan Zaitouneh’s work and the reasons why she was awarded the prize. By Udo SteinbachMore ...
      Oriental reality echoes the Western Orientalist dream: Tombs of the Saadian dynasty in Marrakesh. Photo: Stefan Weidner © Goethe-Institut

      From the Emotional Orient to the Distortion of Islam
      On German Translations of Classical Islamic Literature

      Why does classical Oriental poetry still sound so ornate to German ears? Blame the German translations. These are still following the model of the eighteenth century, when the myth arose that Islamic poets were sentimental geniuses in the realm of emotion and romance. By Stefan WeidnerMore ...
      Girl on a swing during Nouruz festivities in Kabul. From the exhibition Augenblick Afghanistan (Snapshot of Afghanistan) at the Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde, Munich. 16.11.2012 - 15.9.2013. Photo: Najibullah Musafer © Goethe-Institut

      Snapshot of Afghanistan:
      Fear and Yearning in a Ravaged Land

      The exhibition Augenblick Afghanistan (Snapshot of Afghanistan) will run at the State Museum for Ethnology in Munich until 15th September 2013. Its curators have succeeded in putting together a sensitive portrait of Afghanistan that creates entirely new perspectives by juxtaposing the everyday impressions of German soldiers and those of Afghan photographers. By Nouria Ali-TaniMore ...
      Jamil Ahmad. Photo: Fauzia Minallah © Hoffmann und Campe

      Before the Taliban Came

      The Pakistani writer Jamil Ahmad portrays the unknown world of the Pakistani tribal areas in his stories from the 1970s. By Stefan WeidnerMore ...

      Fikrun wa Fann as an e-paper

      Fikrun wa Fann as an e-paper

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