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Prof. Dr. Sebastian Maisel


Arabische Sprach- und Übersetzungswissenschaft
Schillerstraße 6, Room S 205
04109 Leipzig

Phone: +49 341 97-37202
Fax: +49 341 97-37219

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Prof. Dr. Sebastian Maisel

Institute Head

Institute of Oriental Studies
Schillerstraße 6
04109 Leipzig


Sebastian Maisel is professor for Arabic language and translations at the Oriental Institute where he coordinates the section of languages and translations with classes in Arabic, Indonesian, Kurdish, Persian and Turkish.

His research focus is on language pedagogy and sociolinguistics with an emphasis on identity studies of minority groups. Among his publication are The Kurds - An Encyclopedia of Life, Culture, and Society (2018), Yezidis in Syria: Identity Building among a Double Minority (2016), Speed up your Arabic (2015), Modern Standard Arabic: Integrating main Arabic dialects (2013) - with Eckehard Schulz, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (2010) - with David Long, and Das Gewohnheitsrecht der Beduinen (2006).

Professional career

  • 08/1998 - 07/2000
    Instructor for German and ArabicKing-Saud-University Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • 09/2000 - 08/2001
    Instructor for Arabic Language, Culture and Computer ApplicationLeipzig University
  • 10/2001 - 03/2002
    Instructor for Arabic LanguageFriedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena
  • 04/2002 - 07/2005
    Research AnalystSaudi Arabian Arts Foundation/American Institutes of ResearchWashington, DC
  • 08/2005 - 07/2018
    Professor for Arabic Language and Middle East StudiesGrand Valley State UniversityAllendale, Michigan
  • since 09/2018
    Professor for Arabic Language and TranslationsLeipzig University


  • 09/1991 - 07/1997
    Mag. Phil. (MA) in Arabic and Islamic Studies and AnthropologyLeipzig UniversityMA Thesis: Double Minority: The Syrian Yezidis between Ethnicity and Religion
  • 09/1998 - 06/2003
    PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies and AnthropologyLeipzig UniversityThesis: The Customary Law of the Bedouin in Northern Arabia

Panel Memberships

  • since 09/2018
    Board member, Biblioteca Arabica, Saxony Academy of Sciences
  • since 09/2019
    Editor of Leipzig Middle East Studies (Frank & Timme Publ.)
  • since 01/2019
    Board Member, Arbeitskreis Nordafrika Nahost (Study Group North Africa Near East)

My research agenda focuses on three main areas: language pedagogy for Arabic and other Oriental languages, Sociolinguistics, and Anthropology. In the first area, I aim at assessing the current status of teaching Arabic as a foreign language and developing new learning and testing tools.

My research on code-switching and political influence on language education targets Arabic and Kurdish in the larger Northern Mesopotamia. Special attention is given to the Ezidis and their linguistic identity.

A third pillar of my research is situated in ritual studies, particularly the Islamic pilgrimage and its administrative and business-related functions in Saudi Arabia as well as ritual functions of sacred spaces among the Ezidis.

Within the three sections at the Oriental Institute (language, law and culture) my teaching agenda aims at courses related to language instruction and translating/interpreting. I supervise and further develop the Arabic language program, which uses a unique approach of integrating Modern Standard Arabic with the main Arabic dialects through a new digital platform. After four semesters the successful learners reach the B2 proficiency level from where they can engage in other thematic and practical applications of Arabic.

One of these applications is the introduction to interpreting (community interpreting) and translating, which ultimately prepares our BA students for a MA program in this discipline.

Our special master programs in Translating and Conference Interpreting trains high-level, certified proferssionals in oral and written translations.

In addition, we also offer courses in language pedagogy and didactics to certify future teachers of Arabic.