Free University of Berlin
Maurice Amado Foundation Fellowship

Research Topic

Synagogues as Contested and Symbolically Charged Cultural, Social, and Political Arenas in Twentieth-Century Muslim Societies


Kerstin Hünefeld is an adjunct faculty member at the Free University of Berlin. Her research deals with Islamic governance in Yemen. With a focus on religious-legal scholars and the struggle for religious authority, she has published on what she calls the “Dhimma-Space,” or the relationship between the Islamic ruler and the non-Muslim religious minority. She has taught courses on Jews and other non-Muslims of the Islamic world from antiquity to the modern period.

Hünefeld recently received her PhD in Islamic studies from the Free University of Berlin with a dissertation titled “Islamic Governance in Yemen: Imam Yaḥyā’s Protection of the Jews and the Negotiation of Power.” She has conducted research at State Islamic University Sunnan Kalijaga (UIN) in Indonesia, the Yemen Center for Studies and Research, and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

Selected publications

  • “The Imām Is Responsible for Me before God! The Dimension of Protection (Dhimma) Granted by Imām Yaḥyā to the Jews of Yemen” in Mittuv Yosef : Yosef Tobi Jubilee Volume (Hebrew; University of Haifa , 2011)



Delving into the meaning of modernity beyond the European, American, and Israeli contexts, looking instead to North Africa, the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and Central and South Asia.