Judith Pfeiffer


Associate Professor of Arabic/Islamic History; Fellow of St Cross College

Faculty / College Address:

Oriental Institute / St Cross College



Research Interests:

  • Islamic history, historiography, and hagiography of the 13th to 16th centuries
  • Conversion processes, in particular conversion to Islam in the Mongol Empire
  • Post-Mongol (13th to 16th century) theology and philosophy
  • Political thought during the Later Middle Period of Islamic History
  • Buddhism during the Ilkhanid period
  • Early European scholars in Oriental Studies

Current Projects:

Courses Taught:

  • Introduction to Islamic History and Culture
  • Islamic History, 570-1500
  • Religion and politics during the Mongol period
  • The rise of Sufi orders in the Islamic world, 1200-1500
  • ‘Slave Dynasties' in Islam: From the Ghaznavids to the Mamluk Sultanate
  • Writing Islamic history, 1250-1500 A.D.: from palaeography to historiography
  • Palaeography

Recent Publications:

Books and Edited Volumes

Articles and Book Chapters

  • “Aḥmad Tegüder’s Second Letter to Qalā’ūn (682/1283).’ In History and Historiography of Post-Mongol Central Asia and the Middle East, edited by Judith Pfeiffer & Sholeh A. Quinn, 167-202. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2006.
  • “Reflections on a ‘Double Rapprochement:’ Conversion to Islam among the Mongol elite during the early Ilkhanate.” In Beyond the Legacy of Genghis Khan, edited by Linda Komaroff, 369-389. Brill: Leiden, 2006.
  • “‘A turgid history of the Mongol empire in Persia:’ Epistemological reflections concerning an edition of Vaṣṣāf’s Tajziyat al-amṣār va tazjiyat al-a‘ṣār.” In Theoretical Approaches to the Transmission and Edition of Oriental Manuscripts, edited by Judith Pfeiffer and Manfred Kropp, 107-129. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag, 2007.
  • “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 Contacts and Controversies between Muslims, Jews and Christians in the Ottoman Empire and Pre-Modern Iran, edited by Camilla Adang and Sabine Schmidtke, 15-55. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag, 2010.
  • “‘Faces Like Shields Covered with Leather:’ Keturah’s Sons in the Post-Mongol Islamicate Eschatological Traditions.” In Horizons of the World: Festschrift for İsenbike Togan, edited by İlker Evrim Binbaş and Nurten Kılıç-Schubel, 557-94. Istanbul: İthaki, 2011.
  • “Protecting Private Property vs. Negotiating Political Authority: Nur al-Din b. Jaja and his endowments in thirteenth century Anatolia.” In Ferdowsi, the Mongols and the History of Iran: Art, Literature and Culture from Early Islam to Qajar Persia, edited by Robert Hillenbrand, A.C.S. Peacock and Firuza Abdullaeva, 147-165. London: I.B. Tauris, 2013.
  • “The canonization of cultural memory: Ghāzān Khān, Rashīd al-Dīn, and the construction of the Mongol past.” In Rashīd al-Dīn. Agent and Mediator of Cultural Exchanges in Ilkhanid Iran, edited by Anna Akasoy, Charles Burnett and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim, 57-70. London: The Warburg Institute/Turin: Nino Aragno, 2013.
  • “From Baghdad to Maragha, Tabriz, and beyond: Tabriz and the multi-cephalous cultural, religious, and intellectual landscape of the 13th to 15th century Nile-to-Oxus region.” In Politics, Patronage and the Transmission of Knowledge in 13th-15th Century Tabriz, edited by Judith Pfeiffer, 1-11. Leiden/New York: Brill, 2014.
  • “Confessional Ambiguity vs. Confessional Polarization: Politics and the Negotiation of Religious Boundaries in the Ilkhanate.” In Politics, Patronage and the Transmission of Knowledge in 13th-15th Century Tabriz, edited by Judith Pfeiffer, 129-168. Leiden/New York: Brill, 2014.
  • “‘Not every head that wears a crown deserves to rule.’ Women in Il-Khanid political life and court culture.” In Court and Craft: A Masterpiece from Northern Iraq, edited by Rachel Ward, 23-29 (Catalogue of the Courtauld Institute Exhibition Court and Craft: A Masterpiece from Northern Iraq). London: The Courtauld Gallery in Association with Paul Holberton Publishing, 2014.
  • “Mawlavi-Bektashi rivalries and the Islamization of the public space in late Seljuq Anatolia.” In: Islam and Christianity in Medieval Anatolia. Eds. A.C.S. Peacock, Bruno de Nicola and Sara Nur Yildiz, 311-327. Farnham: Ashgate, 2015.
  • “Teaching the Learned: Jalāl al-Dīn al-Dawānī’s Ijāza to Muʾayyadzāda ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Efendi and the Circulation of Knowledge between Fārs and the Ottoman Empire at the Turn of the Sixteenth Century.” In The Heritage of Arabo-Islamic Learning. Studies Presented to Wadad Kadi. Edited by Maurice A. Pomerantz and Aram Shahin. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2015 [2016], pp. 284-332.
  • “Rashīd al-Dīn’s Bayān al-ḥaqāʾiq and its Sitz im Leben. A preliminary appreciation.” Introduction to Rashīd al-Dīn’s Bayān al-ḥaqā’iq. (In preparation).
  • “Rashīd al‑Dīn’s Jāmi‘i taṣānīf‑i Rashīdī and Its Significance for the Study of the Intellectual History of the Post-Mongol Middle East.” (In preparation).

New Book Series

  • New Series on Islamicate Intellectual History. Studies and Texts

    Call for Manuscripts


    Fresh from the Press (Islamicate Intellectual History 1)

  • The Cosmic Perils of Qadi Ḥusayn Maybudī in Fifteenth-Century Iran

    Alexandra W. Dunietz