Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades

University community bids farewell to Professor Eugenio Chahuán

Sadly, we must inform that last Sunday, August 4th, professor Eugenio Chahuán passed away at the age of 68. During his academic career, he carried out many important activities. First of all, he was a central figure in the study of the Arab world in Chile and in Latin America. Professor Eugenio Chahuán¿s hallmark was sharing ideas related to the Arab world. As an expert in the field, university students and intellectuals attended his classes. He was eager to spread the ideas and philosophy of icons such as Mahmud Darwish, Edward Said, Henry Corbin, Ibn Tufayl and Averroes. Throughout his academic career was a referent for the analyses of cultural, political and international relations, among others. As a result, his knowledge was constantly sought by the media to discuss and explain current issues in the Arab world. 

University community bids farewell to Professor Eugenio Chahuán

Professor Eugenio Chahuán obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Arabic Language and Culture from the Universidad de Chile in 1977. He also obtained the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Arabic Language from the University of Cairo, Egypt. During the course of his studies he specialised in Arabic Egyptian Dialectal Language at the American University of Cairo and in Arabic Culture and Language and Arabic Philology and Grammar at the University of Ain Shams, where he later enrolled in the Master of Arts programme at the Faculty of Letters. He also became a specialist in structural grammar, literary theory, comparative literature, Arabic elements in the Spanish theatre of the Golden Age, and Arabic tradition in Al-Andalus being tutored by Doctor Soliman El-Attar.

Professor Chahuán’s academic and professional life began in 1978 when he became professor at the Centre for Arabic Studies (CEA) of the Universidad de Chile. Later, he was appointed Deputy Head of the CEA between 1982 and 1987 and then from March 2006 to date. Together with Professor Marcela Zedán, he created a cultural academic space where he congregated students and the Palestinian and Arab community in Chile to discuss about topics such as Arabic language, culture, history, philosophy, literature, international relations, among others. We cannot forget the important role he played in the remodelling of the Centre for Arab Studies in 2015 for its 60th anniversary. His leadership and commitment made it possible to obtain contributions from important political figures and businessmen of the Palestinian community in Chile, as well as from representatives of Arab embassies in the country.

Between 2010 and 2018, Professor Chahuán was the head of the Extension and Communication Office at Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades. In that position, he proposed and carried out multiple activities that gathered thousands of people around diplomas, seminars, symposia, congresses, conferences, artistic, cultural and academic activities. Nevertheless, one of his greatest life achievements was the creation of different diplomas and courses related to the Arab world that still attract people from inside and outside the university community.  Some of these are Egyptology and the Middle East, Politics and Society in the Contemporary Arab World and Arab and Islamic Art and Aesthetics, in which he was also a professor together with a group of prominent academics such as Kamal Cumsille, Rodrigo Karmy, Ricardo Marzuca, Sebastián Salinas, Mauricio Amr, María Olga Samamé, Mauricio Baros and Esperance Jarufe. 

As an academic of our Faculty, he also participated as a professor in the Master of Gender and Culture, in the Diploma World Literatures and in the Institute of International Studies of the Universidad de Chile, among others. Most importantly, he devised the undergraduate programme on International Studies which started in 2017. 

Moreover, Professor Chahuán was a gifted speaker and a man full of energy and initiative. These outstanding features allowed him to promote debate not only about the Arab world but also about public education, coordinating debate spaces in which academics, students and political figures participated, especially in times of political turmoil at Universidad de Chile because of students’ movements.  

Because of his international reputation, he was invited to participate in international meetings such as the Al-Andalus seminar organized by the University of Damascus, Syria, and the symposium "Arab studies in Chile and the Southern Cone: history and projections" at the Autonomous University of Madrid, where he talked about "TheArab immigration in Chile".

He also organised and promoted meetings with intellectuals such as Ilan Pappé, Adel Hakim, Pedro Martínez Lillo, Nur Masalha, Rashid Khalidi, Abdel Razzaq Takriti, Joseph Massad and created bonds with The Islamic Centre of the Argentine Republic.

Professor Chahuán published a poetic anthology of modern Egypt and he was the co-author of the Arabic language and the Arab Dante. He was honoured with the ICHAC Award 2015-2016 of the Chilean Institute of Arabic Culture for his work “The Muslim architecture of the Divine Comedy”, and in 2018 his 40 year-academic life deserved public recognition by Universidad de Chile.

The Facultad de Filosofía y Humanidades and the Centre for Arabic Studies will always remember Professor Chahuán as a leading intellectual, an exceptional humanist and Arabist, who left his legacy in each one of us. The Universidad de Chile will make all efforts to continue to work with his passion for the study of the Arab world, the Palestinian cause and the intensity with which he carried out all the activities he engaged in.

Text: Cristian Vergara; Translation: Ximena Tabilo and Alfonsina Doddis.

Viernes 9 de agosto de 2019