Universiteit Leiden

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Gabrielle van den Berg

Senior University Lecturer

Dr. G.R. van den Berg
+31 71 527 2023

Gabrielle van den Berg is Senior University Lecturer in the Cultural History of Central Asia and Iran at the University of Leiden and Principal Investigator in the NWO VICI project Turks, Texts and Territory: Cultural Production and Imperial Ideology in Central Eurasia. She studied Persian language and culture at the University of Leiden and at the University of Dushanbe, Tajikistan. She has held positions in Leiden, Cambridge and Brussels. Her research interests include Persian literature and the history of Iran and Central Asia; she has published in particular on the oral traditions of the Ismailis of Tajik Badakhshan and the Shahnama manuscript tradition.

Research interests

Classical Persian literature, in particular the Shahnama and the Persian epic tradition, iconography in relation to literature, rhetoric and aspects of form and performance of classical Persian poetry in contemporary contexts; see also ‘The Persian Epic Cycle and the Shahnama of Ferdowsi’.

History of Central Asia and Iran, in particular the Turko-Persian world 1000-1600; see also ‘Turks, Texts and Territory. Imperial Ideology and Cultural Production in Central Eurasia’ and the Leiden Central Asia Initiative 

Persian manuscript tradition, see also LUCIS Summer School Philology and Manuscripts from the Muslim World

Oral traditions of Tajik Badakhshan, Pamir languages (Shughni-Rushani) and Tajik literature of the 20th century, see e.g. With our own hands, on food culture in the Pamir Mountains and Memory and Commemoration in Central Asia, on the Ismailis of Tajik Badakhshan

Teaching and teaching-related activities

Courses on bachelor, master and research master level, in the field of:

  • History and cultural history of Iran, Central Asia and Afghanistan
  • History, arts and culture of the Mongols and the Mongol Empire
  • Persian literature andliterary history of the Persianate world
  • Islamic Studies, in particular Shiism and Sufi traditions

Supervision of theses on BA, MA, ResMA and PhD level on a broad range of topics related to the (cultural) history of Iran, Central Asia and Afghanistan, oral traditions of Central Asia and the Middle East, classical Persian literature, Tajik and Tajik literature, Pamir languages and literature, Shiism and Sufi traditions of the Persianate world.

Involvement in various committees and boards related to teaching, examinations, admissions and staff recruitment at Leiden University.


Academic positions

  • Senior University Lecturer (Associate Professor) in Cultural History of Central Asia and Iran, since 2016
  • Principal Investigator, NWO Vici project: ‘Turks, texts and territory: Imperial ideology and cultural production in Central Eurasia’, University of Leiden, 2016-2021
  • University Lecturer (Assistant Professor) Persian Studies, Leiden University, 2003-2016
  • Principal Investigator, NWO Vidi project: ‘The Persian Epic Cycle and the Shahnama of Ferdowsi’, University of Leiden, 2006-2011
  • Project researcher, University of Cambridge, 2001-2004
  • Lecturer in Persian, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 2002-2003
  • Project researcher, Institute of Ismaili Studies, London 1999-2001
  • E.G. Browne Lecturer in Persian, University of Cambridge, 1998-2001
  • University lecturer (Assistant professor) Persian Studies, Leiden University, 1997-1998


  • 1992-1997 PhD, University of Leiden (under supervision of Prof. Dr. J.T.P de Bruijn, defence 1 October 1997). Title of PhD thesis: Minstrel Poetry from the Pamir Mountains: A Study on the Songs and Poems of the Ismailis of Tajik Badakhshan. (book published in 2004 at Reichert Verlag, Wiesbaden)
  • 1985-1991 MA (doctoraal) Persian language and culture, University of Leiden. Specialisation early classical Persian literature and Tajik. Minors in Russian and Arabic (examination and graduation 21 February 1991, cum laude)
  • 1988-1989 Lenin University in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, Central Asia (Persian and Tajik)

Board memberships (including editorial boards)

  • Board member of the Societas Iranologica Europaea, vice-president since 2015, see http://www.societasiranologicaeu.org/ (2011-2019)
  • Board member NISIS (Netherlands Interuniversity School for Islamic Studies), see http://www.hum.leiden.edu/nisis (2015 - )
  • Member of the Comité de Lecture, Studia Iranica, Paris (2013 - )
  • Board member & secretary of the Juynboll Foundation, Leiden (2010 - )
  • Board member & secretary of the Foundation Oosters Instituut, Leiden (2012 -)
  • Editorial board series ‘Studies in Persian Cultural History’ (Brill, Leiden) (withCharles Melville (Cambridge) and Sunil Sharma (Boston)), established 2008, see http://www.brill.com/publications/studies-persian-cultural-history

Senior University Lecturer

  • Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
  • Leiden Institute for Area Studies

Work address

Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 4
2311 BZ Leiden
Room number 1.18a



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