Kerstin Hünefeld

Kerstin Hünefeld

Kerstin Hünefeld

Islamic Studies
Jews in Islamicate contexts

Islamic law and political thought (focus on fiqh literature and siyar law)
Zaydiyya and Zaydi Studies
Dhimma law and Muslim-Jewish encounters
Islamic (intellectual) history and (early) historiography
Manuscripts and (social) codicology
Yemen (Jews and Muslims, Zaydi imamate)
Conceptual approaches
Imaginations of “the other”



Current Projects: 

Conceptualizations of the Other and the Self in Islamic Law and Political Thought.

The Dhimma relationship between Imam Yahya Hamid al-Din (r.1904-1948) and the Jews of Sanaa
Original (working-)title in German: Dhimma-Raum: Imam Yahya Hamid al-Din, die Juden Sannas, und die (Aus-)Handlung islamischen Rechts im zaiditischen Jemen (forthcoming 2020, DeGruyter, Berlin)

Curriculum Vitae 

  • 2018-2019 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies (Year theme: “Jewish Life in Modern Islamic Contexts”), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, United States of America

  • 2017-2018 part-time substitute for Prof. Gudrun Krämer and adjunct faculty, Freie Universität Berlin, department of Islamic Studies, Germany

  • 2017 (march-august) Postdoctoral Research Fellow with teaching assignments, State Islamic University Sunnan Kalijaga (UIN), Yogyakarta, Indonesia

  • 2016 Dr. phil. (defense) in Islamic Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

  • 2010-2013 PhD candidate, Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (Excellence Initiative of the German Research Foundation, DFG), Germany

  • 2009-2010, Research Assistant, Department of Jewish Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

  • 2011-2012, Associated Visiting Researcher, Yemeni Center for Academic Studies and Research (markaz al-dirāsāt wa’l-buḥūth al-yamanī), Sanaa, Yemen

  • 2009 Magistra Artium in Islamic and Jewish Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

  • 2002-2003 DAAD scholarship, Visiting Graduate Student at Hebrew University, Rothberg International School, Israel


  • Hünefeld, Kerstin and Menashe Anzi (2015). Ṣanʿāʾ, Jerusalem, New York: Imam Yaḥyā Ḥamīd al-Dīn (1869-1948) and Yemeni-Jewish Migration from Palestine to the United States. In S. Schmitdke, C. Rauch and D. Hollenberg (eds), The Yemeni Manuscript Tradition, Brill Series Islamic Manuscripts and Books, Vol. 7, pp. 252-280, Leiden: Brill

  • Hünefeld, Kerstin (2013). Niẓām al-Yahūd („The Statute oft he Jews“): Imam Yaḥyā’s writing to the Jews of Ṣanʿāʾfrom 1323/1905. In A. Regourd and E. Vallet (eds.) Chronique du Manuscrit au Yémen 16, Centre Français d’archéologie et de Sciences Sociales du Sanaa (CEFAS) and Ministère des Affaires Etrangères Ambassade de France au Yémen, pp. 26-74, Sanaa.

  • Hünefeld, Kerstin and Tal Ilan (2011). Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity, Part IV: The Eastern Diaspora 330 BCE-650 CE, Mohr Siebeck, Text and Studies in Ancient Judaism, Vol. 141, P. Schäfer, A.Y. Reed, S. Schwartz et al. (eds), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.

  • Hünefeld, Kerstin (2011). The Imām Is Responsible for Me Before God! – The Dimension of Protection (Dhimma) Granted by Imām Yaḥyā to to the Jews of Yemen. In A. Oettinger and D. Bar-Maoz, (eds), Mittuv Yosef: Yosef Tobi Jubilee Volume, Vol. 2: The Jews of Yemen: History and Culture, pp. lxxxii-cii, Haifa: University Haifa.

  • Hünefeld, Kerstin (2010). Imam Yaḥyā Ḥamīd al-Dīn und die Juden in Sanaʿa (1904-1948): Die Dimension von Schutz (Dhimma) in den Dokumenten der Sammlung Rabbi Sālim b. Saʿīd al-Ǧamal, Berlin: Klaus Schwarz.ünefeld:+Imam+Yahya+Hamid+ad-Din+und+die+Juden+in+Sanaa+%281904-1948%29&art_no=SMY09&language=en

  • review:

Planned publications:

  • Hünefeld, Kerstin (forthcoming 2020), Dhimma-Raum: Imam Yaḥyā Ḥamīd al-Dīn, die Juden von Sanʿa und die Praxis islamischen Rechts im zaiditischen Jemen, Berlin: De Gruyter.

  • Hünefeld, Kerstin (forthcoming 2020), Dhimma Space: The Protection Relationship between Imam Yaḥyā  Ḥamīd al-Dīn (1869-1948) and the Jews of Ṣanʿa as a Socio-pplitical ‚field‘

  • Hünefeld, Kerstin (2019 forthcoming). The Turmoil of 1948 Ṣanāʿāʾ: Two Yemeni Jewish Accounts on the Situation of the Jews and Imam Aḥmad’s Strategy to recapture the City from pro-Wazīrī troops. Al-Masar – fikriyya thaqafiyya, Yemen.


  • Dhimma Space and beyond: Reordering the Relationship between Jews and Muslims under Sharia Rule”, 25th Annual Gruss Colloquium in Judaic Studies (Order, Reorder, and Disorder: Jews and Muslims Encountering the Modern Era), Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania, USA, May 5 2019

  • “Dhimma as action space: Conceptualizing the protection relationship between Imam Yahya Hamid al-Din (r.1904-1948) and the Jews of Sanaa”, the Institute for Transregional Studies, North Africa, and Central Asia, University of Princeton, USA, March 12 2019

  • “Zaydī arguments against Muḥammad b. ʿAlī al-Shawkānī’s Fatwa on the Worldly Judgement of Jewish Orphans and the legitimacy of the late Qāsimī imamate“, Yemeni Manuscript Collections and Zaydi Studies, an International Conference funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, USA, December 6-7, 2018

  • Dhimma Space: The Protection Relationship between Imam Yaḥyā Ḥamīd al-Dīn (1869-1948) and the Jews of Sanaa as a Socio-political ‘field’”, The Yemenite Conference, organized by E’elah Be Tamar, the American Sephardi Federation and the Institute of Semitic Studies, Center for Jewish History, New York City, USA, July 3-5 2018

  • “Juggling Sharia Law: An Analytical Insight into the Pseudo-Epigraphic Letters of Protection from Yemen and their Jewish Authors’ Strategies of Empowerment”, Jewish-Islamic Forum at the Academy of the Jewish Museum Berlin, international conference on “Jews in Muslim Majority Countries: History and Prospects”, Berlin, Germany, October 24-27, 2017

  • “Ambivalent Aspects of Imam Yaḥyā Ḥamīd al-Dīn’s Dhimma Policy: Forced Conversion of Jewish Orphans, its Islamic Legal Background and Inner-Yemeni Political Dimension”, First International Conference on “The Jews of Yemen: Social and Cultural Changes”, Center for the Study of Yemeni Jewry, Ben-Zvi Institute Jerusalem, Israel September 4-5, 2016

  • “Imām Yaḥyā’s Letter of Protection and the Legal Matrix of Dhimma Space”, Center for the Study of Relations between Jews, Christians, Muslims, Second Annual International Conference: “Intercultural Exchange: Jews, Christians, Muslims”, December 26-27, 2012, Raanana, Israel

  • “Islamic Governance in Yemen: Imām Yaḥyā’s Protection of the Jews and the Negotiation of Power”, Research Colloquium on “The Jews of the Islamic World” with Norman Stillman, Department of Jewish History and Culture, Ludwig Maximilian Universität München, Munich, Germany, July 28, 2011

  • “The Imam is Responsible for Me Before God! The Dimension of Protection (Dhimma) granted by Imām Yaḥyā to the Jews of Yemen”, Panel sponsored by the American Institute for Yemeni Studies, 44th Annual Meeting of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), San Diego, USA, November 18-21, 2010

  • Ḥašiva meḥudešet ʿal yaḥase he-ḥaśut (ḏimma) – trumato šel Rabi Sālim Saʿīd al-Ǧamal le-havanat ha-maʾavaqim le-xoaḥ bi-yme šilton ha-Imām Yaḥyā Ḥamīd al-Dīn” International conference on “The Jews of Yemen: marking 60 years since the Aliya of the Jews of Yemen in Operation ‘On Wings of Eagles’”, Bar Ilan University in cooperation with the Ben-Zvi Institute Jerusalem, Ramat-Gan, Israel, November 18-19, 2010

  • “The Protection Relationship (Dhimma) Revisited: Imām Yaḥyā Ḥamīd al-Dīn and the Jews of Yemen”, World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies (WOCMES), Barcelona, Spain, July 19-24, 2010

  • היבטים אמביוולנטיים ביחס האמאם יחיא חמיד אל-דין לנתיניו היהודים: אסלום בכוח של יתומים - רקע משפטי אסלאמי ופוליטיקה פנימית (september 2016)


    חשיבה מחודשת על יחסי החסות (ד׳מה) - תרומתו של רבי סאלם סעיד אל-ג׳מל להבנת המאבקים לכח בימי שלטון האמאם יחיא חמיד אל-דין (october 2010)