ZiF Research Group

Global Contestations of Women's and Gender Rights

October 2020 – July 2021

Convenors: Alexandra Scheele (Bielefeld, GER), Julia Roth (Bielefeld, GER), Heidemarie Winkel (Bielefeld, GER)

Ziba Mir-Hosseini


FotoCentre of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law (CIMEL),
SOAS University of London, United Kingdom
E-Mail: zm4@soas.ac.uk


Ziba Mir-Hosseini has a BA in Sociology from the University of Tehran (1974) and a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge (1980). As a legal anthropologist working mainly free-lance as teacher, researcher and consultant, she has held numerous Research Fellowships and Visiting Professorships, including Research Fellow at Girton College, Cambridge (1990-93), Visiting Professor, Department of Ethnography, Aarhus University, Denmark (1998), Fellow at Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2004-5), Faculty member of the Salzburg Global Seminar (2008 and 2010), and since 2002 Hauser Global Law Visiting Professor at New York University. Her main research activities and publications have focused on the theory and practice of Muslim family laws. She co-directed two award-winning feature-length documentary films on Iran: Divorce Iranian Style (1998) and Runaway (2001). In 2009 co-founded the Musawah Global Movement for Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family, in which she convenes the Knowledge Building group. She received the 2015 Martin E. Marty award for the Public Understanding of Religion from the American Academy of Religion.

Current Main Research Interests

I am engaged in two projects. The first is a book manuscript based on my conversations with six Muslim reformist thinkers who are breaking new ground in Islamic scholarship, bringing new approaches to the textual sources, new conceptualizations of law and of the meaning and scope of Sharia. My goal is to make their ideas and approaches accessible without distortion to a wide audience of readers, and ultimately to give guidance to activists who wish to use them when formulating their own strategies for action.

My second project is a multi-layered initiative that I lead as the convenor of Musawah Knowledge Building Group, to build an understanding of marriage as a partnership of equals in a way that is rooted within Muslim tradition. Building on an earlier initiative, this project began in 2018 and has two interrelated and concurrent components: 1)Textual, historical, socio-legal studies to explore and unearth frameworks for egalitarian ethics and jurisprudence of Muslim marriage; 2) Empirical research to investigate how selected Muslim women and men in different contexts understand and pursue egalitarian gender relations in their marriages.

Five selected publications with particular relevance to the Research Group