Universiteit Leiden

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Léon Buskens

Director NIMAR

Prof.dr. L.P.H.M. Buskens
212 53 76 68500

Léon Buskens is an anthropologist studying law and culture in Muslim societies. One of his main research interests is how Muslims shape Islam in everyday life, in relation to other practices and to religious teachings. He has a longstanding interest in Morocco, and has more recently also started to do some research in Indonesia (focusing on Maluku and Papua) for comparative purposes.

More information about Léon Buskens

Curriculum Vitae

Léon Buskens studied anthropology, standard and Moroccan Arabic, and Islam, at Radboud University in Nijmegen, where he specialised in historical and Mediterranean anthropology (BA and MA, both  cum laude). His MA thesis was a study of fasting and leisure during the month of  Ramadan in Larache (Morocco), based on fieldwork in 1984 and 1985. From 1987 he was a Ph.D. student at the Faculty of Law of Leiden University. He did fieldwork and library research in Morocco on Islamic law and family relations, which resulted in a Ph.D. thesis defended in 1993, published as a revised and updated monograph in 1999. 

Since 1991 Buskens works as a lecturer on anthropology and Islamic law at the faculties of Humanities and Law of Leiden University. From 1998 until 2008 he also held a chair for Law and Culture of Islam at Utrecht University. Since 2009 he has a chair for Law and Culture in Muslim societies at Leiden University. Since 2009 he is director of the Leiden University Centre for the Study of Islam and Society (LUCIS) and since 2010 also of the Netherlands Interuniversity School for Islamic Studies (NISIS). Buskens was a visiting fellow at the department of Near Eastern Studies of Princeton University, the Escuela de Estudios Árabes in Granada, and a visiting professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. 

Buskens focuses in his research on everyday understandings of Islamic law and customs; textual practices in Muslim societies in a historical perspective (with a strong interest in the writing culture of the`udul, “professional witnesses”, in Morocco); and the history, theories and methods of orientalist and anthropological scholarship. At present he works on two projects: the genesis of the modern legal system in Morocco, and the history of Western understandings of Islamic and customary law.

Some selected publications

Buskens, Léon; 2003 
Recent Debates on Family Law Reform in Morocco: Islamic Law as Politics in an Emerging Public Sphere 
in:  Islamic Law and Society 10(2003) no. 1, pp. 70-131 

Buskens, Léon; 2008 
Tales according to the Book. Professional Witnesses ( `Udul) as Cultural Brokers in Morocco in: Dupret, Baudouin; Drieskens, Barbara; Moors, Annelies (eds.)  Narratives of Truth in Islamic Law
London & New York: I.B. Tauris & Co. 
pp. 143-160 & p. 340 (Notes) 

Buskens, Léon; 2008 
Conversations with Mostapha: Learning about Islamic Law in a Bookshop in Rabat in: Kommers, Jean & Venbrux, Eric (eds.) 
Cultural Styles in Knowledge Transmission. Essays in Honour of Ad Borsboom
Amsterdam: Aksant Academic Publishers 
pp. 19-24 

Buskens, Léon; 2010 
Sharia and National Law in Morocco 
in: Otto, Jan Michiel (ed.); 2010 
Sharia  Incorporated. A Comparative Overview of the Legal Systems of Twelve Muslim Countries in Past and Present
Leiden: Leiden University Press 
pp. 89-138 

Buskens, Léon & Dupret, Baudouin; 2011 
L'invention du droit musulman. Genèse et diffusion du positivisme juridique dans le contexte normatif islamique. 
in: Pouillon, F. & Vatin, J.C. (Eds.),  Après l'orientalisme. L'Orient créé par l'Orient
Paris: Karthala 
pp. 71-92 

Buskens, Léon ; 2012 
Le droit de la famille au Maroc 
in: Bernard-Maugiron, Nathalie & Dupret, Baudouin (eds.); 2012 
Ordre public et droit musulman de la famille. En Europe et en Afrique du Nord
Bruxelles: Emile Bruylant 
pp. 97-126 

Buskens, Léon; forthcoming 
in: Brown, Jonathan (ed.) 
Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Law
New York: Oxford University Press 

Director NIMAR

  • Faculty of Humanities


  • Faculty of Humanities

Professor of Law and Culture in Muslim societies

  • Faculteit Rechtsgeleerdheid
  • Instituut voor Metajuridica
  • Van Vollenhoven Instituut


  • Stichting Studiecebtrum Rechtspleging (SSR) Medewerking aan cursus Marokkaans familierecht maximaal éénmaal per jaar voor één dag
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