Success stories of Palestinian achievers from all over the world

Okhenio Shahwan

Personal Info

  • Country of residence: Chile
  • Gender: Male
  • Born in: 1947
  • Age: 76
  • Curriculum vitae :


In 2016, the Chilean academic and writer of Palestinian origin, Eugenio Shahwan (1947-2019), won the CHAC Prize for his work “The Islamic Structure of the Divine Comedy.” A professor at the University of Chile for forty years who was known as an influential presence in research and thought in South America, he passed away earlier this month and has not yet died. The news of his departure is being circulated in the Arab world only yesterday.

The University of Chile described him on its website in a long statement in which it mentioned his great influence inside and outside the university, and the positions he held, saying: “Professor Shahwan was a gifted speaker and a man full of energy and initiative. These outstanding qualities allowed him to encourage debate not only about the Arab world but also about public education and coordination.” Discussion spaces in which academics, students and political figures participated, especially in times of political unrest at the University of Chile due to the student movement.”

Anyone who follows Shahwan’s academic and cultural biography and activity realizes that the man lived with his body in Chile and with his heart and mind in the Arab world. He devoted his life to studying Arab and Islamic culture and its philosophies, ancient and modern, and transferred this knowledge to students and researchers in South America, especially Chile.

Shahwan was born in Santiago and his family comes from the village of Beit Jala. He specialized in Arabic literature and philosophy at the University of Chile, and moved on to study Andalusian thought at the American University in Cairo and then Ain Shams University with the aim of getting closer to the Arab region, living in it, and communicating closely with his roots.

Since taking over the management of the Center for Arab Studies at the University of Chile in 1978, the deceased contributed to moving the center to a better level in terms of studies, goals, and research projects. In 2015, he made major changes on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the center, and he was keen to present the voice of the Palestinian cause. And enlighten students and researchers in Chile about its current historical and political dimensions.

He held several positions, and was honored by the university where he worked for four decades, where, in addition to his other duties, he was head of the “Department of Communications, Academic Relations and Guidance” in the College of Philosophy and Humanities for eight years between 2010 and 2018.

Shahwan established a program for Middle Eastern studies, another for Egyptology, and another for Arab and Islamic arts. According to the university’s statement, he was the one who created the international studies program there, which opened in 2017.

In addition to all of this, he translated selections of modern Egyptian poetry into Spanish, wrote a study on the history of Arab immigration to Chile, and wrote studies and articles in Spanish on Ibn Tufail, Ibn Rushd, Edward Said, and Mahmoud Darwish.

The deceased was a professor for a generation of Arabists and specialists in studies of Arab culture, such as Kamal Qumsiyeh, Rodrigo Karmi, Ricardo Marzouqa, Maria Olga Samami, and Mauricio Barros, and he contributed to introducing Arab intellectuals to the academic and cultural community in Chile, such as Nour Masalha, Rashid Al-Khalidi, Abdel-Razzaq Al-Takriti, and Joseph Massad.


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