Eirik Hovden's picture

Eirik Hovden

Researcher, in Arabic, Middle Eastern and Islamic studies
  • E-maileirik.hovden@uib.no
  • Phone+47 55 58 80 93
  • Visitor Address
    Sydnesplassen 7
    5007 Bergen
  • Postal Address
    Postboks 7805
    5020 Bergen

2020-2024: I now work as a project leader of the CanCode project, financed by the Trond Mohn Foundation and HF, UiB. In addition to the the general project leadership I also research the development of code-like legal texts from pre-modern Zaydi Yemen.

2018-2020: I started a post-dcotoral project at the Department of Foreign Languages at UiB. The project was aobut exploring understadings of secularity in Yemen and the Arab world. I taught at the Arabic bachelor program as part of my duty work.

2016-2018: I worked at AHKR, UiB as a researcher in a HERA-project together with Knut Vikør. The overall project was led by Robert Gleave in Exeter, UK, and was about how the past was and is used in Islamic law. My specific focus was on how the Zaydi law school theorize sovereignty and public management.

2012-2016: I worked at a researcher at the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften in a large project on comparative medieval history called Visions of Community. I worked in Institut für Sozialanthropologie in a team with other Yemen-experts and my focus was on religoius movements in the Zaydi-areas of Yemen in the medieval period, especially a branch of Zaydi-Islam called al-Muṭarrifiyya.

2007-2012: I did research for my PhD at AHKR, UiB with Anne K. Bang and Knut Vikør as supervisors. I did fieldwork in Yemen where I first focused on waqf and water supply and turned to focusing on the development of the waqf-laws in a historical and comtemporary context. Waqf means charitable Islamic foundations and is regulated in its own chapter in traditional Islamic law. This was in older times one of the most used modes of organizing public infrastructure as well as a vehicle for managing private wealth in the Islamic world, until the begunning of the 20th century. I had to relate to the classical texts of the Zaydi legal school, on which there had been little in-depth research before.

2006-2007: I worked as an assistant at the Nile Basin Programme (Unifob global) and aided Terje Tvedt in collected data for the bibliographies on usage of the Nile, which we co-authored.

1999-2006: I studied environmental geography, social anthropology and Arabic at UiB. I have an interdisciplinary MA degree from UiB on water studies and coastal management. I did fieldwork in Yemen and wrote my thesis on traditional rainwater harvesting structures in rural mountains of North-west Yemen.

From May 2022 my position and title is research professor (1183)

Related to my post doctoral postion (2018-2020), I have taught Arabic textual analysis and translation in the couses  ARA111 and ARA112 which are two courses in the beginning of the bachelor program at the Department of Foreign Languages. I have also taught ARA211 which is a course in authentic modern and classical Arabic texts towards the end of the bachelor program.

I supervised two MA students and I'm currently supervising two PhD students.

Selected publications:

Practicing Community in Urban and Rural Eurasia (1000–1600): Comparative Perspectives and Interdisciplinary Approaches. Editors: Fabian Kümmeler, Judit Majorossy and Eirik Hovden. Leiden: Brill, 2021. See: https://brill.com/view/title/60086  

Eirik Hovden, Waqf in Zaydī Yemen. Legal theory, Codification and Local Practice, “Studies in Islamic Law and Society”, Leiden: Brill, 2019. See: https://brill.com/view/title/38952 

Eirik Hovden and Johann Heiss “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. Ed. Veronika Wieser, Vincent Eltschinger, Johann Heiss. DeGruyter, 2020. (Open access)

Eirik Hovden. “Sanaa. Dynastienes kamparena i et splittet land” in Brennpunkt Midtøsten. Byene som prisme. Ed. Nils Buitenschøn and Rania Maktabi. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 2018.

Johann Heiss, and Eirik Hovden. “Competing Visions of Community in Mediaeval Zaydī Yemen”. Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient (JESHO) 59 (2016) 366-407

Meanings of Community Across Medieval Eurasia. Editors: Eirik Hovden, Christina Lutter and Walter Pohl Leiden: Brill, 2016. (Open access, Brill online)

Eirik Hovden, “Birka and Baraka - Cistern and Blessing: Notes on Custom and Islamic Law Regarding Public Cisterns in Northern Yemen”. In Southwest Arabia across History: Essays to the Memory of Walter Dostal, Ed. Andre Gingrich and Siegfried Haas. Philosophisch-Historische Klasse, Denkschriften, 472. Band, 55-65. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2014 (Open access: epub.oeaw.ac.at) 


  • Show author(s) (2024). Syv viktige punkt om houthiene, Rødehavet og Jemen: Hvem er houthiene, og hvorfor angriper de skip? Bergens Tidende, Debattsider.
  • Show author(s) (2023). Who is entitled to appoint the imām? Shifting answers in Zaydi fiqh ca. 1350-1550 CE.
  • Show author(s) (2023). Transregionality, local communities, and manuscript culture in Zaydi law.
  • Show author(s) (2023). The Kitāb al-azhār by Ibn al-Murtaḍā (d.837/1436-37), its method of standardization and reception.
  • Show author(s) (2023). The Imamic Court of Early Medieval Zaydī Yemen (900–1200CE): Displaying Skills across the Religious/Non-religious Divide.
  • Show author(s) (2023). Processes of Canonization and Codification in Transmission of Islamic Legal Knowledge: A Theoretical Perspective beyond the Premodern/Modern Binary.
  • Show author(s) (2023). Pre-Modern Zaydi Critique of Family waqf and wasiya, Shifting Argumentation, and Instability in Printed Editions of fiqh.
  • Show author(s) (2023). Introduction: The study of agency of jurists and judges.
  • Show author(s) (2023). How to understand change in pre-modern Islamic law.
  • Show author(s) (2023). Hamdānids. The Encyclopaedia of Islam Three.
  • Show author(s) (2023). Al-Muʾayyad Muḥammad b. al-Qāsim. The Encyclopaedia of Islam Three.
  • Show author(s) (2023). A Short History of Zaydi fiqh. leidenarabichumanitiesblog.
  • Show author(s) (2022). al-Muṭarrifiyya. The Encyclopaedia of Islam Three.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Waqf in Zaydi Yemen.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Qāsimī dynasty. The Encyclopaedia of Islam Three.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Pre-modern standardization of Zaydi law/Freie Universität Berlin.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Pre-Modern Standardization of Zaydi Law.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Phases and processes of standardisation in pre-modern Zaydi fiqh.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Nye lag av loven kommer til: Eksempler fra Zaydi-tradisjonen, ca 1400-1800.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Kvinner i islamske lovtekster i middelalderen.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Introduction to CanCode workshop 2022.
  • Show author(s) (2022). En korpusdreven studie av språkhandlingen å klage. Språklige valg i møte med en autoritet i Egypt.
  • Show author(s) (2022). Comment on Brinkley Messick's book presentation.
  • Show author(s) (2022). CanCode-prosjektet: Refleksjoner fra midtveis.
  • Show author(s) (2021). al-Manṣūr bi-llāh al-Qāsim b. Muḥammad. The Encyclopaedia of Islam Three.
  • Show author(s) (2021). Practising Community in Urban and Rural Eurasia (1000–1600). Comparative and Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Brill Academic Publishers.
  • Show author(s) (2021). Introduction and the problem of defining actors in codification processes.
  • Show author(s) (2021). Defining Rules of Rural-Urban Flows: Endowments, Authority and Law in Medieval Zaydi Yemen in a Comparative Perspective. 24 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2021). Conceptualizing City-Hinterland Relations and Governance: Medieval Sanaa as a Case Study. 15 pages.
  • Show author(s) (2021). Compilation, Canonisation, and codification in the Islamic Legal Tradition.

More information in national current research information system (CRIStin)

Currently I'm the principle investgator of the CanCode-project (2020-2024). The project focuses on processes of canonization and codification of Islamic law.

Project website: uib.no/cancode

For my engagement in university politics, see my Norwegian page.