Professor Johann Büssow

Professor of Islamic Studies
Room: GB 2/38
Phone: +49 234 32 - 25125
Office hours on Wednesdays 10:30 - 12:00 am (in person or online).
Please email me or arrange an appointment with our secretaries (Nicole Gehring or Giselle Milloch)


Johann Buessow publishes and teaches on the cultural and social history of the societies of West Asia and North Africa in early modern and modern times, as well as on topics of Islamic intellectual history. Since 2018 he has been Professor of Oriental Studies at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. From 2013 to 2018 he was Professor of Islamic History and Culture at the University of Tübingen. Previously, he worked as a research assistant at Orient-Institut Beirut and at the Collaborative Research Center 586 at the University of Halle. He has taught five years at Freie Universität Berlin, where he also obtained a PhD in Middle Eastern Studies in 2011.  

Research interests

  • Cultural and social history of West Asia and North Africa since 1500
  • The late Ottoman Eastern Mediterranean
  • Urban history
  • History of rural communities, especially the Bedouins
  • Qur’anic exegesis (Tafsīr)
  • History of Concepts and Historical Semantics
  • Digital Humanities

Research projects

  • “Late Ottoman Palestinians: Social and Cultural Dynamics in an Eastern Mediterranean Society during the Age of Empire, 1880-1920” (ERC Consolidator Grant, 2022-2027)
  • “Path and Guidance: Re-metaphorization of Qur’anic Metaphors of Space and Movement in the Tafsīr Literature” (Subproject of CRC 1475 “Metaphors of Religion“, 2022-2026)
  • “Frontier Cities during the Late Ottoman Period: The Case of Beersheba in a Comparative Perspective” (with Professor Yuval Ben-Bassat, Gerda Henkel Foundation grant, 2022-2024)
  • “Letters to the Sheikh: Political and Economic Transformations in the Indian Ocean World as Reflected in the Letters to the ʿAbriyin of al-Hamraʾ (Oman) during the Long 19th Century” (DFG grant, 2021-2027)
  • “(Christian) Arabs and (Russian) Jews: Conceptions of Identity and Debates on Zionism in the Trans-Ottoman Migrant Society of Palestine” (Subproject of DFG Priority Programme “Transottomanica”, 2018-2023)
  • “Gaza during the Late Ottoman Period” (with Professor Yuval Ben-Bassat, GIF grant, 2016-2018)

PhD supervision

Current PhD projects:

  • Nora Ateia: “‘A Dream of a Good Country’: An Ethnography of Emotions and Mobilization in Egypt’s Tahrir Square 2011-2014” (second supervisor; first supervisor: Heidrun Eichner, Tübingen)
  • Yorck Beese: “The Film of the Islamic State: The Cinefication of Jihadi Video" (second supervisor; first supervisor: Oliver Fahle, Bochum)
  • Alexandra Dick: Hymns of the Caliphate: Islamic State Anāshīd
  • Mona Doranianarestani: “The Rural Household and the Outside World: A Social and Cultural History of Everyday Life in Rural Palestine, 1850-1950”
  • Eyüp Kalyon: „Die Šarḥ-Tradition im osmanischen Zeitalter am Beispiel des Multaqā l-Abḥur von Ibrāhīm al-Ḥalabī (gest. 1549)“
  • Laura Stocker: “Droughts, Tribes and the Territorial State in the Northern Badiya, 1928-1950” (Co-tutelle mit Jordi Tejel, Université de Neuchâtel)
  • İlyas Ünlü: „Der Hedschas und die Wahhabiten in der Darstellung Eyyüb Sabri Paschas (st. 1890)“

Completed PhD projects:

  • Evelin Dierauff (2018): „Ethno-konfessionelle Beziehungen im Raum Jaffa, 1908-1929“
  • Till Grallert (2014): “To Whom Belong the Streets? Property, propriety and appropriation: The production of public space in late Ottoman Damascus, 1875-1914” (second supervisor; first supervisor: Ulrike Freitag, Berlin)
  • Muharrem Kuzey (2017): „Ahl as-sunna und die Anderen: Konstruktionen von religiöser Identität durch Verketzerung (takfir) am Beispiel des osmanischen Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Kemal (st. 940/1534)“ (second supervisor; first supervisor: Heidrun Eichner, Tübingen)
  • Sedighe Khansari Mousavi (2016): „Mulla Sadras Handlungstheorie im historischen Kontext“ (second supervisor; first supervisor: Heidrun Eichner, Tübingen)
  • Petra Nendwich (2018): „Legitimierung und Mobilisierung in zeitgenössischen dschihadistisch-salafistischen Texten“
  • Safiah Salameen (2022): “Tribal affairs in the late Ottoman Province of Aleppo” (second supervisor; first supervisor: Christoph Herzog, Bamberg)
  • Yuki Nakanishi (2019): “Between God and the World: Late Medieval Akbarian Theology within the Post-Avicennan Traditions of Philosophy” (second supervisor; first supervisor: Heidrun Eichner, Tübingen)

Expertise and engagement

  • Section editor for the history of the Arab world from 1500 to the present for Encyclopaedia of Islam THREE (Brill, Leiden)
  • Co-editor of „Studien zur Geschichte und Zeitgeschichte Westasiens und Nordafrikas“ (LIT, Berlin) and „MISK: Mitteilungen zur Sozial- und Kulturgeschichte der islamischen Welt” (Ergon, Baden-Baden)
  • Member of the Research Department CERES (Center for Religious Studies) at Ruhr-Universität Bochum
  • Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Specialised Information Service “Middle East, North Africa and Islamic Studies” at the University and State Library Saxony-Anhalt
  • Member of the selection committee for the DAAD semester scholarship "Arabic in Jordan"