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Prof. Dr. Judith Pfeiffer

Principal Investigator

Judith Pfeiffer

University of Bonn
Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies (IOA)
Department of Islamic Studies and Languages of the Middle East
Adenauerallee 4–6
D-53113 Bonn
Phone: +49 / (0)228 / 73 4591


Current Position

Alexander von Humboldt-Professor for Islamic Studies


Judith Pfeiffer focuses on the Islamicate intellectual history of the late medieval and early modern periods, paying particular attention to historiography, social, intellectual and religious networks, and the circulation of knowledge in the wake of the conversion of the formerly Buddhist Mongol rulers to Islam at the turn of the fourteenth century. This knowledge ushered in a long period of experimentation in the Nile-to-Oxus Region (the predominantly Muslim Middle East). It is during this period that we witness the establishment of informal intellectual networks and the institutionalization of more formal socio-religious networks (‘Sufi monastic orders’), as well as the gradual integration of the learned classes into state apparatuses. Dependencies in this context are ubiquitous, and include student-teacher-relationships in the field of traditional learning, master and disciple relationships with the full range of rites of initiation in Sufism [‘mysticism’] and relationships of patronage that are often explicitly discussed as unwanted in the primary sources.

1 book, 4 edited volumes, 10 articles. 7 completed and 4 ongoing doctorates as well as numerous Master (M.Phil. and M.St.) and Bachelor theses as supervisor/dissertation committee member.


  • 1998–2003        Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, USA
  • 1998–2000        Doctoral Scholarship at the German Oriental Institute Istanbul, Turkey
  • 1994–1998        M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, USA
  • 1983–1992        M.A. in Romance, German and Oriental Philologies, Islamic Studies and Pedagogy at University of
                              Cologne, Germany

Academic Positions

  • 2016–present    Alexander von Humboldt-Professor of Islamic Studies, University of Bonn, Germany
  • 2003–2016        University Lecturer in Arabic and Islamic History and Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic History at the
                              Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, UK
  • 2002–2003        Instructor at the Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations, University of Chicago, USA

Participation in Centers and Collaborative Projects

  • Käte Hamburger Kolleg “Dynamiken der Religionsgeschichte zwischen Asien und Europa” ["Dynamics of the History of Religion between Asia and Europe"], University of Bochum, Germany
  • Principal investigator of the ERC Research Group IMPAcT "From Late Medieval to Early Modern: 13th to 16th Century Islamicate Philosophy and Theology", Oxford, UK
  • Alexander von Humboldt Kolleg Research Group "Islamicate Intellectual History", University of Bonn, Germany

Additional Academic Activities

  • 2013                  Member of the editorial board of the “Miroir de l'Orient Musulman” series (MOM) and of “Oriens”
  • 2012                  Co-editor of the series “Islamicate Intellectual History – Studies and Texts”
  • 2009                  Co-editor of the “Journal of Islamic Manuscripts”
  •                           Collaboration with international research groups such as "Repenser la normativité en Islam post-mongol:
                              courants ésotériques, syncrétistes et messianiques," CNRS, Paris, France
  •                           Soros Foundation "ReSET" Project on the Conception of "Eternal Capitals," Oxford-Tbilisi

Third-Party Funding

  • 2010–2016        ERC Starting Grant
  • 2016–2021        Alexander von Humboldt Professorship - International Prize for Research in Germany (University of Bonn,
                              Forscherkolleg "Islamicate Intellectual History")
  •                           Numerous awards and individual scholarships

Total sum of approximately 5.5 million euros ad personam.

Selected Publications

  • Rashīd al-Dīn. Bayān al-Ḥaqāʾiq. Introduction and Indices by Judith Pfeiffer. Istanbul 2016.
  • Confessional Ambiguity vs. Confessional Polarization: Politics and the Negotiation of Religious Boundaries in the Ilkhanate. In: J. Pfeiffer (ed.): Politics, Patronage and the Transmission of Knowledge in 13th-15th Century Tabriz. Leiden 2014, 129-168.
  • (ed.): Politics, Patronage and the Transmission of Knowledge in 13th-15th Century Tabriz. Leiden 2014.
  • Protecting Private Property vs. Negotiating Political Authority: Nur al-Din b. Jaja and His Endowments in Thirteenth Century Anatolia. In: R. Hillenbrand, A.C.S. Peacock, F. Abdullaeva (eds.): Ferdowsi, the Mongols and the History of Iran: Art, Literature and Culture from Early Islam to Qajar Persia. London 2013, 147-165.
  • The Canonization of Cultural Memory: Ghāzān Khān, Rashīd al-Dīn, and the Construction of the Mongol Past. In: A. Akasoy, C. Burnett, R. Yoeli-Tlalim (eds.): Rashīd al-Dīn. Agent and Mediator of Cultural Exchanges in Ilkhanid Iran. London 2013, 57-70.
  • Confessional Polarization in the 17th Century Ottoman Empire and Yūsuf İbn Ebī ‘Abdü’d-Deyyān’s Keşfü’l-esrār fī ilzāmi’l-Yehūd ve el-aḥbār. In: C. Adang, S. Schmidtke (eds.): Contacts and Controversies between Muslims, Jews and Christians in the Ottoman Empire and Pre-Modern Iran. Würzburg 2010, 15-55.
  • With M. Kropp: Theoretical Approaches to the Transmission and Edition of Oriental Manuscripts. Würzburg 2007.
  • With S. A. Quinn (eds.): History and Historiography of Post-Mongol Central Asia and the Middle East. Studies in Honor of John E. Woods. Wiesbaden 2006.
  • With A. Neuwirth, M. Hess, B. Sagaster (eds.): Ghazal as World Literature II. From a Literary Genre to a Great Tradition. The Ottoman Gazel in Context. Würzburg 2006.
  • Reflections on a ‘Double Rapprochement’: Conversion to Islam among the Mongol Elite during the Early Ilkhanate. In: L. Komaroff (ed.): Beyond the Legacy of Genghis Khan. Leiden 2006, 369-389.
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