Sabine Schmidtke

Islamic Studies, Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton)

Sabine Schmidtke is Professor of Islamic Intellectual History in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ since 2014. Before, she held a professorship at Freie Universität Berlin (2002-2014).

Her main research areas and topics are Islamic Studies, Islamic and Jewish Intellectual History, Bible in Arabic, Judeo-Arabic, Shiism, Zaydiyya, Islamic Theology (kalam), Islamic manuscripts, Muslim reception of the Bible, Islamic philosophy, History of Oriental Studies, Geniza, Correspondences as a Historical Source, Yemen and the History of Libraries.

During her fellowship at HIAS, Sabine Schmidtke would like to work more intensively on the archive of the geographer Carl Rathjens (1887–1966), who visited Yemen during the winter of 1927/28 for the first time and established a close relationship with Imām Yaḥyā, which resulted in Rathjens’ appointment as principal advisor to the Imām. The Rathjens archive is kept in the Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg and is one of the most important foreign archives for the study of Yemen during the reign of Imām Yaḥyā. Schmidtke’s intention is to prepare a monograph on “Yemen during the first half of the 20th century: Carl Rathjens and Imām Yaḥyā” (working title). Her work on Carl Rathjens will complement earlier projects on aspects of Yemen’s twentieth-century history, notably Schmidtke’s monograph on Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl b. al-Muṭahhar al-Manṣūr (1915–2016) (UCOpress 2018) and her ongoing work on Rudolf Strothmann’s account of his sojourn in Yemen during the spring of 1930.

Her tandem partner is Aaron Butts, professor of Semitic Studies, especially Ethiopian Studies, at Universität Hamburg.

Sabine Schmidtke’s HIAS Fellowship is provided by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the federal and state funds acquired by Universität Hamburg in the framework of its Excellence Strategy.


Sabine Schmidtke


Universität Hamburg


Aaron Butts, professor of Semitic Studies, especially Ethiopian Studies, Universität Hamburg

Image Information

Source: Photo/Scan by Sabine Schmidtke, Material from the archive of Carl Rathjens in the Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Hamburg