Lena-Maria Möller

 Lena-Maria Möller
  • Law,
  • Middle East Studies

Areas of Expertise:
Islamic law; Muslim family law; Comparative law; Private international law; Law and popular culture in the Middle East

since 2018


Max Planck Institute for Comparative & International Private Law, Germany

Mittelweg 187
20148 Hamburg, Germany

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About me

I am a scholar of comparative and Middle Eastern law currently affiliated with the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law in Hamburg, Germany. My research spans across and simultaneously connects three core areas of investigation: (1) contemporary Middle Eastern and Islamic law, (2) private international law, and (3) law and/in popular culture. My research on contemporary Middle Eastern law employs comparative law methods and theories to study the complex interplay of different legal regimes, such as state, religious, and international law. My research on Islamic law and private international law in Europe revisits marriage and divorce laws in Muslim countries against the background of an ongoing debate on how foreign laws in general, and religious laws in particular, should be applied by European courts. My most recent research on law and popular culture in the Middle East revolves around Arabic-language cinematic and television formats. I study contemporary courtroom dramas to explore cultural representations of law and justice and how these impact the viewers’ perceptions of different legal systems.

With a scholarly focus on law and legal thought in Muslim societies, my research navigates across a wide disciplinary spectrum. I profit tremendously from exchanging ideas with colleagues from other disciplines, such as sociology, anthropology, political science, and history. Similarly, I find it of great importance to conduct research internationally and particularly in exchange with scholars in the region on which my own research focuses.

I am very enthusiastic about AGYA’s principle aim of bringing together scholars from Germany and the Arab world to collaborate in joint transdisciplinary research projects.

I believe that AGYA is an ideal setting in which to foster in-depth scholarly research as well as sustainable personal networks and transcultural discussions with lasting impact on society. As an AGYA member, I collaborate with fellow academics on projects involving law and cultural heritage, law and popular culture, and contemporary debates on legal methodology.

Academic career
Since 2019Associate Editor, Arab Law Quarterly (Brill)
2019 - 2021Acting Professor of Islamic Law, Institute of Oriental Studies, University of Leipzig, Germany
2016           Visiting Professor of Islamic Law, Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Münster, Germany
2015 - 2016Member of the research initiative ‘The Gulf Family’, Center for International and Regional Studies, Georgetown University in Qatar
2014 - 2019 Senior Research Fellow Research Group: Changes in God's Law: An Inner Islamic Comparison of Family and Succession Laws, Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, Hamburg, Germany
2014               Ph.D. in Law (University of Hamburg); recipient of the doctoral prize from the Faculty of Law at the University of Hamburg and the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society
2013 - 2014Acting Junior Professor of Islamic Studies, Department of Middle East Studies, University of Hamburg, Germany
2010 - 2013Research Associate, Max Planck Institute for Comparative and International Private Law, Hamburg, Germany
2010M.A. in Middle East Studies and Law (University of Hamburg)


My Commitment to AGYA
Former AGYA Co-President 2019 - 2020
Former Member of the AGYA Steering Committee 2018 - 2020
Selection Committee 'New AGYA Members' 2020

On a personal note

Must read in my discipline:
Modern Challenges to Islamic Law by Shaheen Sardar Ali

Favourite novel from my country:
Nathan the Wise by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
(almost 250 years old and still relevant)

Best scientist from my country:
Amalie Emmy Noether (1882-1935)