Alexander von Humboldt Professorship 2016

Judith Pfeiffer

By gaining an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship for Judith Pfeiffer the University of Bonn would like to continue strengthening its research focus in historical Islamic studies and extend it to embrace Iran and Central Asia.

  • Nominating University: University of Bonn

Islamic Studies

What does it mean for a religious community to accept new members? What processes are initiated by a change of faith and religious conversion? Questions like this are more relevant today than ever, and the extent to which they are a recurrent theme in the history of humankind is illustrated by the work of the Islamic scholar Judith Pfeiffer. She has a global reputation as an expert on the history of the Mongols from the 13th to the 16th centuries as well as the intellectual history of the Mongolian Empire in the Islamic East, from Iran via Syria and Anatolia to Iraq. Pfeiffer focusses, amongst other things, on the conversion of migrant Mongols and leaders to Islam, analysing Persian, Arab and Ottoman sources and setting them in the greater historical and social context of their time. Her research is not restricted to asking how the conversion to Islam changed the Mongols’ way of life but also investigates how the converts influenced their new religion and introduced ideas into Islamic theology that had ripple effects even on politics and the law.

Brief bio

Prof. Dr. Judith Pfeiffer, born in Germany in 1964, studied at the University of Cologne. She subsequently moved to the University of Chicago, USA, where she was awarded a PhD in 2003 after a sojourn as a doctoral researcher at the German Orient Institute in Istanbul, Turkey. From Chicago Judith Pfeiffer relocated to the University of Oxford, UK, where she is currently an Associate Professor. She has received many awards and honours such as a European Research Council Starting Grant and a Research Fellowship from the City of Paris at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, France. In October 2016 she took up her position as a Humboldt Professor at the University of Bonn.

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