Prof. Dr. Robert Langer

Study of Religions with special focus: Islam

Institute of Cultural Studies


Tel.: +49 89 6004-4819



Dr. Robert Langer has been professor for the Study of Religions with a focus on Islam at University of the Bundeswehr Munich since September 15, 2022. He previously worked as a senior research fellow for the history of religions at Orient-Institut Istanbul, which he joined on October 1, 2017. He is an Islamic Studies scholar and a cultural anthropologist specializing in the study of Islamicate cultures. He studied in Heidelberg, Damascus, Ankara, and Istanbul and received his PhD from the Faculty of Philosophy at Heidelberg University in 2004 with a thesis on shrine and pilgrimage practices of contemporary Zoroastrians in Iran. In 2015, he submitted his postdoctoral dissertation to the same university, dealing with Alevi rituals in the transnational context. After obtaining his postdoctoral qualification (Habilitation) at Heidelberg University in 2016, he was appointed Privatdozent (adjunct lecturer) with a venia legendi for Islamic studies. From 2014 to 2017, he led a junior research group at the University of Bayreuth, which focused on Shiite religiosity in Germany (funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research). From 2013 to 2015, he was the leader of a project on Alevi cultural heritage at Heidelberg University, which was funded by the German Universities Excellence Initiative. From 2002 to 2013, he worked at the “Ritual Dynamics” Collaborative Research Centre at Heidelberg University on the rituals of marginalized religious groups in majority Muslim societies, for example the Anatolian Alevis and the Yezidis (Êzidî). From 2000 to 2002, he was a member of a junior research group at the Institute for the Study of Religions at Heidelberg University, which was funded by the German Research Council’s Emmy Noether Program. From 2020 to 2022, he taught as acting deputy professor for the Study of Religions with a focus on Islam at University of the Bundeswehr Munich; 2013 to 2014, as acting deputy professor at the Chair of Islamic Studies at Heidelberg University; and from 2006 to 2007, as deputy assistant professor of Islamic Studies (with a focus on social anthropology) at the Institute for Islamic Studies and Modern Oriental Philology at the University of Bern. He conducted field research in Iran, Turkey, Armenia, and among different diaspora groups of Near and Middle Eastern origin in Europe.


Research Focus

  • Religious diversity in the Islamic world including the diaspora.
  • History and Anthropology of Religion of Islamicate cultures in Western Asia, the Mediterranean, and North and Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Ritual studies and ritual theory.
  • Empirical research in the fields of performance, visuality and materiality of religion.


Current Projects


Completed Projects


Peer Reviewed Publications (selection)

  • 2020 “The Term Ġulāt and its Derivatives: From Heresiography to Self-Description”. Islamische Selbstbilder: Festschrift für Susanne Enderwitz. Ed. Sarah Kiyanrad, Rebecca Sauer, Jan Scholz. Heidelberg: Heidelberg University Publishing, 39–56 <https://doi.org/10.17885/heiup.531> <https://heiup.uni-heidelberg.de/reader/download/531/531-69-89655-2-10-20200806.pdf>.
  • 2020 “The Aesthetics of Contemporary Alevi Religious Practice: A Bodily-and-Material Cultures’ Approach”. Ed. Martin Greve, Ulaş Özdemir & Raoul Motika: Aesthetic and Performative Dimensions of Alevi Cultural Heritage. (Istanbuler Texte und Studien, 43) Baden Baden: Ergon, 11–32.
  • 2019 “Aleviten”. In: Lexikon für Kirchen- und Religionsrecht (LKRR). Ed. Heribert Hallermann et al. Paderborn: Schöningh, 79a–81b. Online: (BrillOnline Reference Works) Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV, 2019 <http://dx.doi.org/10.30965/9783506786371_0075>.
  • 2017 (& Benjamin Weineck) “Shiite ‘Communities of Practice’ in Germany: Researching Multi-Local, Heterogeneous Actors in Transnational Space”. In: Journal of Muslims in Europe 6 (= Special Issue “Mapping Shia Muslim Communities in Europe”, ed. Oliver Schar­brodt, Yafa Shanneik), 216–240 <https://doi.org/10.1163/22117954-12341351>.
  • 2012 “Transfer Processes within Sufi Rituals: An Example from Istanbul”. In: European Journal of Turkish Studies [Online journal], 13 (2011 = Thematic issue “Contemporary Sufism and the Quest of Spirituality: Transgressing Borders, Transgressing Categories”, ed. Beatrice Hendrich [Papers held at the World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies, WOCMES 2010, Barcelona, July 23rd, 2010]), <https://doi.org/10.4000/ejts.4584>.
  • 2011 (& Thomas Quartier, Udo Simon, Jan Snoek, and Gerard Wiegers) “Ritual as a Source of Conflict”. In: Ritual, Media, and Conflict. Ed.: Grimes, Ronald L.; Hüsken, Ute; Simon, Udo; Venbrux, Eric. (Oxford Ritual Studies, 3) Oxford: Oxford University Press, 93–132.
  • 2010 “Yezidism between Scholarly Literature and Actual Practice: From ‘Heterodox’ Islam and ‘Syncretism’ to the Formation of a Transnational Yezidi ‘Orthodoxy’ [originally lecture AAR 2009 Montréal]”. In: British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies 37.3 (= “Hetero­dox Movements in the Contemporary Islamic World: Alevis, Yezidis and Ahmadis”. Guest ed.: Shankland, David), 393–403. <https://doi.org/10.1080/13530194.2010.524441>.
  • 2008 (& Udo Simon) “The Dynamics of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy: Dealing with Divergence in Muslim Discourses and in Islamic Studies”. In: Die Welt des Islams: Internationale Zeit­schrift für die Geschichte des Islams in der Neuzeit = International Journal for the Study of Mod­ern Islam 48.3–4, 273–288. <https://doi.org/10.1163/157006008X364758>. Reprinted in: Maribel Fierro (ed.): Orthodoxy and Heresy in Islam. Part 1: Orthodoxy and Heresy: Dynamics and Debate. (Critical Concepts in Islamic Studies) London, New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2014, 201–212.
  • 2008 Pīrān und Zeyāratgāh: Schreine und Wallfahrtsstätten der Zarathustrier im neuzeitlichen Iran. (Dr. phil. Diss., Philosophische Fakultät, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, 2002/2004). Mit einer beiliegenden Bilder-DVD. (Acta Iranica: Encyclopédie perma­nente des Études Iraniennes, 48) Leuven, Paris, Walpole, MA: Pee­ters. XVIII, 708 pp. + 1 DVD with 1367 digital photographs. [Reviews: Iranian Studies 44.1 (2011): 141–145 (Rezania); Orientalistische Literaturzeitung 105.2 (2010): 223–231 (Boedeker); Religion 41.1 (2011), 118–122 (Rose); Religiovedenie 3 (2011) 205–206 (Tessmann)].
  • 2006 (& Dorothea Lüddeckens, Kerstin Radde, and Jan Snoek) “Transfer of Ritual”. In: Journal of Ritual Studies 20, 1–10, <https://www.jstor.org/stable/44368749>.