Astrid Meier

Deputy Director

Astrid Meier was deputy director of the Orient-Institut Beirut between October 2013 and March 2018.

Astrid Meier joined the OIB in October 2013 as deputy director. A historian by training, she holds a PhD from the University of Zurich, Switzerland (1994). She worked as a research assistant at the History Department of the same university (2006 – 2011) and lectured at the universities of Zurich, Basel, Bern and St. Gallen. From 2011 to 2013, she was Visiting Professor of Islamic Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies at Martin-Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg, to where she returned as Professor of Islamic Studies in April 2018.

Her research interests include the social and cultural history of the Middle East in the early-modern period; theory and practice of Islamic law; famines, hunger and food systems; and environmental history. Astrid Meier is a member of the scientific boards of the journals Comparativ (Leipzig) and Annales islamologiques (Cairo). In early 2018, she acted as a reviewer for Annales islamologiques.

Rural societies in an age of urbanisation, 1550 to 1850

The aim of the project is to explore the dynamics of rural-urban relations in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman empire between 1550 and 1850 from the perspective of the “rural”. The period usually counts as a time of profound transformation, in the form of both momentous change and long-term developments, in an increasingly globalized world.

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Hunger und Herrschaft. Vorkoloniale und frühe koloniale Hungerkrisen im Nordtschad. Stuttgart: Steiner-Verlag, 1995 (Beiträge zur Kolonial- und Überseegeschichte 62, also Diss. University of  Zurich 1994).

Edited Books

with Amir Shaykhzadegan (eds.): Beyond the Islamic Revolution. Perceptions of Modernity and Tradition in Iran before and after 1979. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2017 (Welten des Islams - Worlds of Islam - Mondes de l’Islam, vol. 8) 

with Johannes Pahlitzsch and Lucian Reinfandt (eds.): Islamische Stiftungen zwischen juristischer Norm und sozialer Praxis. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 2009 (Stiftungs-Geschichten, Vol. 5).

with Hans-Lukas Kieser and Walter Stoffel (eds.): Revolution islamischen Rechts. Das Schweizerische ZGB in der Türkei. Zürich: Chronos-Verlag, 2008.

Journal Article

“Looking for Credit in 18th-Century Damascus: A Case from the Court Records”, DYNTRAN Working Papers, n° 22, online edition, March 2017, available at:

The materiality of Ottoman water administration in 18th-century rural Damascus. A historian’s perspective, in: McPhillips, Stephen/Wordsworth, Paul (eds.): Landscapes of the Islamic World: Archaeology, History, and Ethnography. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016, 19-33.

Un istibdāl revoqué. Sur le raisonnement juridique dans le sijill et quelques enjeux de son interprétation, in: Guéno, Vanessa; Knost, Stefan (eds.): Lire et écrire l’histoire ottomane. Damas et Beyrouth: Ifpo/OIB, 2015, 87-106.

(with Tariq Tell) The World the Bedouin Lived in: Climate, Migration and Politics in the Early Modern Arab East, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 58, 2015, 21-55.

Stiftungen für die Blinden im osmanischen Damaskus. Eigeninteresse und Altruismus im islamischen Stiftungswesen, Historische Zeitschrift, Beiheft 66, 2015, 95-122.

Ego-documents in early-modern Ottoman „Syria“? Results of a difficult search, in: Ruggiu, François-Joseph (ed.): Les usages des écrits du for privé. Afrique, Amérique, Asie, Europe, Paris, 2013, 123-138.

Archives and chanceries: Arab world, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, 3rd ed. (EI3), Leiden: Brill, 2012-4, 17-22.

with Johann Büssow: ʿAnaza, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, 3rd ed. (EI3), Leiden: Brill, 2012-1, 63-67.

with Brigitte Marino: L’eau à Damas et dans son environnement rural au xviiie siècle, in: Bulletin d’études orientales 61, 2012, 363-428.

The charities of a grand vizier. Towards a comparative approach to Koca Sinân Pasha’s endowment deeds (989-1004/1581-1596), in: Turcica 43, 2011, 309-343.

Bedouins in the Ottoman juridical field. Select cases from Syrian court records, seventeenth to nineteenth centuries, in: Eurasian Studies 9/1-2, 2011, 187-211.

Bathing as a translocal phenomenon? Bathhouses in the Arab-speaking provinces, in: Ergin, Nina (ed.): Bathhouses in Anatolia and Beyond. Architecture, History and Imagination. Leuven: Peeters, 2011, 169-197. (Turkish translation: Yerelötsi Bir Olgu Olarak Yıkanma: Osmanlı İmaparatorluğu’nun Arap Eyaletlerindi Hamamlar, in: Nina Ergin (ed.): Anadolu Medeniyetlerindi Hamam Kültürü: Mimari, Tarih ve İmgelem, İstanbul: Koç Üniversitesi Yayınları, 2012, 211–241.)

Grüne Schuhe, blaugestreifte Badetücher und das "Weisse Minarett". Religiöse Koexistenz in den Städten des osmanischen Syrien, in: Andreas Schmauder und Jan Friedrich Missfelder (eds.): Kaftan, Kreuz und Kopftuch. Religiöse Koexistenz im urbanen Raum (15.-20. Jahrhundert). Ostfildern: Thorbecke, 2010, 281-303.

Ein Teppich als Denkmal. Historische Repräsentationen in Westasien und Nordafrika um 1900, in: Periplus. Jahrbuch für aussereuropäische Geschichte 18, 2008, 43-67.

Krisen des Selbst in der biographischen Literatur zu Damaskus, 17. und 18. Jahrhundert, in: Stefan Reichmuth und Florian Schwarz (eds.): Zwischen Alltag und Schriftkultur. Individuelle Horizonte in der arabischen Schriftkultur des 17. und 18. Jahrhunderts. Beirut: Orient-Institut, 2008, 1-21.