Monday, March 1, 2010

Pieternella van Doorn-Harder

Nelly van Doorn-Harder

Professor of Islamic Studies
Wake Forest University
Office: Wingate 216
Phone: 758-3945

Nelly van Doorn-Harder was born and raised in the Netherlands were she earned her PhD on the topic of women in the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt at the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam. Before moving to the USA she was director of a refugee program in Cairo, Egypt, and taught Islamic Studies at universities in the Netherlands (Leiden) and Indonesia (Yogyakarta).

A detail CV of Nelly van Doorn-Harder can be found in the following link:

Nelly van Doorn-Harder, Associate Professor of World Religions and Ethics

Huegli Hall - Room 204
(219) 464-5307


Before coming to Valparaiso University in January 1999, I taught Islamic Studies at a university in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, and helped initiate an Institute for the Study of Religion and Interfaith. Prior to that I spent over four years in Cairo, Egypt, where I worked as the director of a refugee agency. My career started in the Netherlands as a lecturer of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Leiden.
I returned to Egypt in the fall of 2005, when the American University in Cairo (AUC) invited me to teach in the Coptic Studies Chair. In 2007 I had the opportunity to return to Indonesia as a Senior Fulbright Scholar.
Apart from research activities I am involved in various inter-faith initatives.


B.A. - Middle Eastern Studies, University of Utrecht 1978
B.A. - Theology, University of Amsterdam 1986
M.A. - Middle Eastern Studies, University of Amsterdam 1982
Ph.D. - Free University of Amsterdam 1993

Courses Taught

  • Perspectives on the Religious Quest (THEO 369/569)
  • Women in the Abrahamic Religions
  • Understanding Islamic Religion and Culture (THEO 362/562)
  • Peace and Violence: Judaism, Christianity and Islam
  • Muslims and Christians: Intersections of Faith

Research Interests

Women and Religion
My research straddles issues concerning women and religion and those concerning minorities, minority cultures, and human rights in Muslim countries. I have completed fieldwork in the Middle East and Southeast Asia; specializing in indigenous Christianity of Egypt and in Muslim organizations in Indonesia. My book Women Shaping Islam. Indonesian Muslim Women Reading the Qur’an (2006) analyzes the various religious strategies Indonesian Muslim feminists have developed to strengthen the position of women. The book argues that their use of Qur’an based texts rather than secular feminist material allows women to gain degrees of authority that in certain fields are comparable to the authority of male Muslim leaders. My current research focuses on spiritual trends that motivate activist expressions of Islam in Indonesia. This project includes artistic expressions, visual culture, rituals, and text.


  • Contemporary Coptic Nuns
    - University of South Carolina Press 1995
  • De Koptisch Orthodoxe Kerk
    - Kok, Kampen 2005
  • Women Shaping Islam: Reading the Qur'an in Indonesia
    - Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press 2006


  • Coping with Evil in Religion and Culture: Case Studies
    - Edited with Lourens Minnema Amsterdam, & New York: Rodopi 2007
  • Between Desert and City: The Coptic Orthodox Church Today
    - edited with Kari Vogt (Oslo: Novus Forlag, 1997) (republished: Portland, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2004) 1997; 2004

Professional Affiliations

  • I have held fellowships from Fulbright, the Ford Foundation, the American University at Cairo, and the Norwegian Institute for Human Rights Studies. Before coming to Valparaiso University where I hold the Surjit Patheja Chair in World Religions and Ethics, I taught Islamic Studies and the Study of Religion at Leiden University, the Free University in Amsterdam, and at the Gajah Mada and Duta Wacana Universities in Indonesia.
  • American Academy of Religion (AAR)
  • Middle East Studies Association (MESA)
  • Association for Asian Studies (AAS)
  • International Association for Coptic Studies (ACS)
  • The American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE)
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