Dörthe Engelcke

 Dörthe Engelcke
  • Law,
  • Middle East Studies

Areas of Expertise:
Middle Eastern law and politics; Family law; Islamic law; Legal pluralism; Comparative law; Qualitative research methods; Quantitative survey design

since 2022


Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, Germany

Research Group on Family and Succession Law in Islamic Countries
Mittelweg 187
20148 Hamburg

+49 40 41 900 348
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About me

I am a senior research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg, Germany. My research is comparative and interdisciplinary, drawing on a variety of methodologies from semi-structured interviews, textual analysis, and quantitative survey design. I am interested in the interaction of law and society, gender, and political development in the Middle East. Currently, I am working on my second book. It examines minority law in the Middle East. Christian communities enjoy autonomy in family law and, at times, inheritance matters. Inequality in inheritance and family law is the primary marker of legal inequality of women, children, and non-Muslims in the Middle East today. The book investigates how these laws are applied and what inhibits reform. It explores how legal pluralism, political development, and regional conflict impact legal development and, thereby, inter-community relations, citizenship rights of non-Muslims, and gender relations.

I believe in AGYA’s mission. I especially appreciate that AGYA works toward bridging regional and disciplinary divides. I look forward to enhancing my interdisciplinary research through collaboration with fantastic scholars from the Arab world, by learning from their experience and developing new ways of moving forward together.

Academic career
2017 - today Senior Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, Hamburg, Germany
2022 Acting Junior Professor of Islamic Studies, Department of Middle East Studies, University of Hamburg, Germany
2015 - 2017 Early Career Fellow, the Lichtenberg Kolleg, the Göttingen Institute of Advanced Study, University of Göttingen, Germany
2016 Co-winner of the BRISMES Leigh Douglas Memorial Prize for the best PhD dissertation on a Middle Eastern topic in the Social Sciences or Humanities awarded by a British University.    
2015 Ph.D. in Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, St Antony’s College, UK
2014 - 2015 Stipendiary visiting fellow at the Islamic Legal Studies Program, Harvard Law School, USA
2008 Master degree in Near and Middle Eastern Studies, SOAS, University of London, UK

On a personal note

Must read in my discipline:
Authority, Continuity, and Change in Islamic Law by Wael B. Hallaq

Favourite novel:
Tonio Kröger by Thomas Mann

The scientist from my country you should know:
Melitta Bentz, the inventor of the coffee filter. So many grateful mornings!