Christopher Bahl

Research Associate

Christopher D. Bahl is an assistant professor at Durham University, UK. He was a research associate at the OIB from 2018 to 2020 after completing his PhD in History at SOAS University of London. His doctoral thesis Histories of Circulation—Sharing Arabic Manuscripts across the Western Indian Ocean, 1400 – 1700 studied the transregional circulation of Arabic manuscripts to argue that mobile scholars as well as shared cultural practices and corpora of Islamicate texts led to the cultural integration of the Western Indian Ocean in the early modern period. Christopher received an MA in Historical Research Methods from SOAS in 2014 after completing an MA in Islamic Studies and South Asian History at the University of Heidelberg in 2013. In 2010/11 he studied Arabic at the University of Damascus and Urdu at the Central University, Hyderabad, India. He is interested in the social and cultural histories of the wider Indian Ocean region in the early modern period, manuscript cultures and their circulation, and scholarly cultures and practices of history writing. His new postdoctoral project focuses on mobile protagonists in the Indian Ocean region in the early modern period and their practices of knowledge formation and community building in the context of shrine cities.

Articles, book chapters

Bahl, Christopher. 2018. Creating a Cultural Repertoire Based on Texts: Arabic Manuscripts and the Historical Practices of a Sufi in 17th-Century Bijapur. Journal of Islamic Manuscripts, 9(2–3), pp.132–153.

Bahl, Christopher. 2017. Preservation through Elaboration: The Historicisation of the Abyssinians in al-Suyūṭī’s Rafʿ sha ʾn al-Ḥubshān. In: Ghersetti, Antonella (ed.). Al-Suyūṭī, a Polymath of the Mamlūk Period. Brill, pp. 118–142. Available at

Bahl, Christopher. 2017. Reading tarājim with Bourdieu: prosopographical traces of historical change in the South Asian migration to the late medieval Hijaz. Der Islam, 94(1), pp.234–275.

Bahl, Christopher. 2017. The Transfer of Books Across the Early Modern Western Indian Ocean online. Available at


Review of al-Musawi, M. J., The Medieval Islamic Republic of Letters: Arabic Knowledge Construction.Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2015, in: Der Islam. 95/1, 2018, pp. 240-245.

Review of Liebrenz, Boris: Die Rifāʿīya aus Damaskus. Eine Privatbibliothek im osmanischen Syrien und ihr kulturelles Umfeld. In: British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 44/3, 2017.

Review of Dharampal-Frick, Gita; Dwyer, Rachel; Kirloskar-Steinbach, Monika; Phalkey, Jahnavi (eds.), Key Concepts in Modern Indian Studies. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015, in: H-Soz-Kult. 24.05.2016.