Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion
research group

Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies

The research group brings together scholars from various departments and faculties at the University of Bergen who are interested in the study of Islam, the Middle East, and neighboring regions.

A dhow in front of the skyline of Doha, Qatar
A dhow in front of the skyline of Doha, Qatar.
Anne K. Bang

Main content

In the funding period 2023–2025, the activities of the interdisciplinary research group focus on the research theme Transregional Developments and Local Communities in the Islamic World, thereby capitalizing on the expertise of its members in studying global interconnections and local conditions in areas such as North and East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Levant, Turkey, South Asia, and Muslim minorities in Europe.

Research Group Goals

The group seeks to:

  • serve as a nodal point of research networks in Bergen and beyond,
  • produce high-quality publications on its research theme,
  • contribute to the career development of junior researchers,
  • assist its members in developing research projects,
  • foster interdisciplinary exchange,
  • disseminate knowledge about Islam and the Middle East,
  • and increase the visibility of pertinent research activities at the University of Bergen.

To reach these goals, the research group organizes regular activities such as academic lunches, guest lectures, PhD seminars, and international workshops.

In its activities, the research group relies on its Middle East research library and collaborates with other research groups, projects, and units at the University of Bergen, the Chr. Michelsen Institute, and academic institutions in Nordic countries and beyond.

Market area in the centre of Sanaa, Yemen, at dusk

Agricultural terraces in Bayt Qadam, Hajja, Yemen.

Eirik Hovden


Activities of the research group in the spring semester 2024 include:

February 20            

Panel Discussion: Academic Boycott?

April 16

Book launch: Nathanial Matthews, Binghampton University (Zanzibar was a country) and Anne K. Bang (Zanzibari Muslim Moderns).

April 24   

Film Screening: The Message (al-Risālah)

April 26   

Sune Haugbølle, Roskilde University

The History of Palestine Solidarity in Scandinavia and the World 

May 28

Bergen Global

Ahmad Shamsy, University of Chicago

On Islamic law in transition

June 10

Lucia Carminati, University of Oslo

Seeking Bread and Fortune in Port Said. Labor Migration and the Making of the Suez Canal 1859-1906

Recent Publications

Recent publications by members of the research group include:


Mauder, Christian. “Ottomanization before the Conquest? Mamluk-Ottoman Religious and Cultural Entanglements in the Courtly Salons of Qāniṣawh al-Ghawrī and Post-Conquest Gatherings.” In The Mamluk-Ottoman Transition: Continuity and Change in Egypt and Bilād al-Shām in the Sixteenth Century II. Edited by Stephan Conermann and Gül Şen, 409–453. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2022.

Tsakos, Alexandros. “Coptic Literary Texts from Nubia.” In Coptic Literature: Proceedings of the Ninth International Symposium of Coptic Studies by the Saint Mark Foundation Monastery of St. Bishoi (Wadi al-Natrun), 10-14 February 2019. Edited by Samuel Moawad, 323–336. Shaker Heights: Saint Mark Foundation, 2022.

Vikør, Knut S. “Pathways and Formations of ‘African Sufism.’” In Routledge Handbook of Islam in Africa. Edited by Terje Østebø, 50–61. London: Routledge, 2022.

Vikør, Knut S. “When Does a Ṭarīqa Become a Ṭarīqa? The Story of a Break-up.” In Islam, Revival and Reform: Redefining Tradition for the Twenty-First Century. Essays Inspired by John O. Voll. Edited by Natana DeLong-Bas, 53–83, Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2022.

Vikør, Knut S. “Legal Authority and Interpretation in Islamic Law.” In Sharia Law in the Twenty-First Century. Edited by Muhammad Khalid Masud and Hana Jalloul Muro, 87–104. London: AnchorWorld Scientific Publishing Europe, 2022.


Bang, Anne K. “The ‘Travelling Scholar’ in African Islamic Traditions: Local, Regional, and Global Worlds.” In Routledge Handbook of Islam in Africa. Edited by Terje Østebø, 21–35. London: Routledge, 2021.

Hafsaas, Henriette, and Tsakos, Alexandros. “Michael and other Archangels behind an Eight-Pointed Cross-Symbol from Medieval Nubia: A View from Sai Island in Northern Sudan.” Pharos Journal of Theology 102 (2021): 1–17.

Heiss, Johann, Hovden, Eirik, and Kommer, Odile. “Conceptualizing City-Hinterland Relations and Governance: Medieval Sanaa as a Case Study.” In Practicing Community in Urban and Rural Eurasia (1000–1600): Comparative Perspectives and Interdisciplinary Approaches. Edited by Fabian Kümmeler, Judit Majorossy, and Eirik Hovden, 103–117. Leiden: Brill, 2021.

Hovden, Eirik. “Defining Rules of Rural-Urban Flows: Endowments, Authority and Law in Medieval Zaydi Yemen in a Comparative Perspective.” In Practicing Community in Urban and Rural Eurasia (1000–1600): Comparative Perspectives and Interdisciplinary Approaches. Edited by Fabian Kümmeler, Judit Majorossy, and Eirik Hovden, 309–322. Leiden: Brill, 2021.

Hovden, Eirik. “al-Manṣūr bi-llah Qāsim b. Muḥammad.” Edited by Kate Fleet et al. In Encyclopaedia of Islam Three. Leiden: Brill, 2021.

Jacobsen, Christine M. “God Will Reward You: Muslim Practices of Caring for Precarious Migrants in the Context of Secular Suspicion.” Contemporary Islam 15 (2021): 153–168.

Mauder, Christian. In the Sultan’s Salon: Learning, Religion and Rulership at the Mamluk Court of Qāniṣawh al-Ghawrī (r. 1501-1516). 2 vols., Leiden: Brill, 2021.

Kümmeler, Fabian, Majorossy, Judit, and Hovden, Eirik, eds. Practicing Community in Urban and Rural Eurasia (1000–1600): Comparative Perspectives and Interdisciplinary Approaches. Leiden: Brill, 2021.

Mauder, Christian. “Between Religious Pluralism and Confessional Identity: The Ethical Writings of Miskawayh’s Teacher Yaḥyā ibn ʿAdī.” In Islamic Ethics as Educational Discourse: Thought and Impact of the Classical Muslim Thinker Miskawayh (d. 1030). Edited by Sebastian Günther and Yassir El Jamouhi, 161–177. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2021.

Mauder, Christian. “‘And They Read in That Night Books of History’: Consuming, Discussing, and Producing Texts about the Past in al-Ghawrī’s Majālis as Social Practices.” In New Readings in Arabic Historiography from Late Medieval Egypt and Syria: Proceedings of the Themed Day of the Fifth Conference of Mamluk Studies. Edited by Jo van Steenbergen and Maya Termonia, 401–428. Leiden: Brill, 2021.

Mauder, Christian. “Education and Learning among Members of the Mamluk Army: Results of a Quantitative Analysis of Mamluk Biographies.” In History and Society during the Mamluk Period (1250–1517): Studies of the Annemarie Schimmel Institute for Advanced Study III. Edited by Bethany Walker and Abdelkader Al Ghouz, 61–88. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2021. 

Mauder, Christian. “A Severed Head, a Poetry Slam, and a Shiʿī Visiting al-Shāfiʿī’s Tomb: Symbolic and Literary Communication in Mamluk-Safawid Diplomatic Encounters.” In Studies on the History and Culture of the Mamluk Sultanate (1250–1517). Edited by Stephan Conermann and Toru Miura, 139–161. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2021.

Tsakos, Alexandros. “Invoking Archangels Graphically: The Archangel Michael in Nubia as a Case Study.” In Inventer les anges de l’Antiquité à Byzance: Conception, représentation, perception. Edited by Delphine Lauritzen, 461–478. Paris: Association des Amis du Centre d’Histoire et Civilisation de Byzance, 2021.

Tsakos, Alexandros, “Medieval/Christian Nubia.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History. Edited by Thomas Spear et al. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021.

Vikør, Knut S. “Sufi Sultanates and Imamates.” In Sufi Institutions (Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 1. The Near and Middle East: 1. Handbook of Sufi Studies, 1). Edited by Alexandre Papas, 322–331. Leiden: Brill 2021.


Heiss, Johann, and Hovden, Eirik. “Zaydī Theology Popularized: A Hailstorm Hitting the Heterodox.” In Cultures of Eschatology, vol. 1: Worldly Empires and Scriptural Authorities in Medieval Christian, Islamic, and Buddhist Communities. Edited by Veronika Wieser, Vincent Eltschinger, and Johann Heiss, 415–440. Berlin: DeGruyter, 2020.

Mauder, Christian. “Being Persian in Late Mamluk Egypt: The Construction and Significance of Persian Ethnic Identity in the Salons of Sultan Qāniṣawh al-Ghawrī (r. 906–922/1501–1516).” Al-ʿUṣūr al-Wusṭā: The Journal of Middle East Medievalists 28 (2020): 376–408.

Mauder, Christian. “The Development of Arabo-Islamic Education among Members of the Mamluk Military.” In Knowledge and Education in Classical Islam: Religious Learning between Continuity and Change. Edited by Sebastian Günther, 963–983. Leiden: Brill, 2020.

Mauder, Christian. “Der Sultan, sein geschwätziger Barbier und die Sufis: Ibn Iyās über den Fall des Kamāl ad-Dīn b. Šams im Kairo des 16. Jahrhunderts.” In Macht bei Hofe: Narrative Darstellungen in ausgewählten Quellen: Ein interdisziplinärer Reader. Edited by Stephan Conermann and Anna Kollatz, 79–98. Schenefeld: EB-Verlag, 2020.

Vikør, Knut S. “Ibadism and Law in Historical Contexts.” Oñati Socio-Legal Series 10.5 (2020): 960–984.

Manuscript confirming estate ownership, North Darfur, Sudan

Manuscript confirming estate ownership, North Darfur, Sudan. O’Fahey Collection, Archive 47.

Special Collections, University of Bergen Library