Available evidence suggests that the crisis of the humanities is more critical in the Arab world than it is in the West. This article provides a provisional sketch of the state of arts and humanities scholarship within university settings in the Arab world. The article also examines the effects and limitations of the use of standardized quantitative metrics to assess humanities scholarship and education in Arab universities. A majority of Arab university students prefer to pursue “ideologically safe” professional education, partly because humanities fields are not likely to lead to good careers. More important, the fields of humanistic studies, as constituted in a minority of modern Arab universities, are largely divorced from their cultural contexts and have no room for the study of culturally relevant subjects. Furthermore, in most national Arab universities, culture may receive lip service, but a naturalized study of the humanities remains a neglected part of the landscape of higher education.

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