Jo Van Steenbergen


Sint-Pietersplein 6, room 2.05
Address: Sint-Pietersplein 6, B-9000 GHENT (Belgium)

E jo.vansteenbergen'+ akrol +'')  

T ++32 (0)9 264 38 05
F ++32 (0)9 264 42 71



Jo Van Steenbergen was a student of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the KULeuven (Belgium) where he obtained his PhD in 2003. He previously was a research assistant of the Research Foundation-Flanders (Belgium) and a research fellow of the Netherlands-Flemish Institute in Cairo (Egypt). In 2004 he was appointed as a lecturer at the University of St Andrews (UK), in the School of History's departments of Mediaeval History and Middle Eastern Studies. Since early 2007, he is based at Ghent University (Belgium), first as a lecturer (assistant professor) of Arabic and Islamic Studies, and since 2009 as a research professor (senior lecturer/associate professor). He is a specialist of pre-modern Islamic history and participates in the teaching of Islamic and world history.

Jo Van Steenbergen also is a visiting lecturer for the School of Oriental and African Studies' "Postgraduate Diploma in Asian Art" (London, UK). He has acted as a visiting lecturer/professor at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (Sorbonne, Paris, France) (2009) and at the Faculty of Islamic Studies of the National University of Malaysia (UKM) (Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia) (2009). In each case, Jo Van Steenbergen teaches on his main area of research and expertise: the history of the  Islamic world and its physical expression in art, architecture and urbanisation.


Jo Van Steenbergen's research focuses on the history of the Islamic 'middle period' (ca. 1000-1500), mainly looking at (semi)Turkic dynasties and elites in Syria and Egypt (Seljuqs, Zengids, Ayyubids, Mamluks), including from comparative, trans-regional/trans-cultural and longue durée perspectives. Within this larger remit, he pays particular attention to the following broad themes and concepts:

  • islamic political culture christophe
  • prospopography, social structures, and authority
  • military patronage states and early modern state formation
  • historiography and epigraphy
  • islam and religious experience, diversity and syncretism
  • art, architecture and urbanisation

Jo Van Steenbergen is happy to engage with any projects, including PhD projects, that fall within these broadly defined areas of academic research (in Dutch, French or English). More information on current research projects may be found on the section's research pages . In 2009, Jo Van Steenbergen was awarded a prestigious European Research Council Starting Grant, for a research project (2009-14) on the political history of 15th-century Egypt and Syria.

Jo Van Steenbergen is editor of the cross-disciplinary international peer-reviewed journal "al-Masāq: Islam and the Medieval Mediterranean" (Routledge, Taylor & Francis). He is member of the programming committee of the International Medieval Congress (UK, Leeds), responsible for the strand 'Mediterranean Studies & Islam'. He also is actively involved in the informal research network "Political Culture in the Latin West, the Byzantine Commonwealth and the Islamic World" (organisation of comparative history workshops, colloquia and research projects).
At UGent, Jo Van Steenbergen is member of the executive committee of the Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies, he participates in the activities of the interdepartmental research group 'Communities, Comparisons, Connections', and he is involved in the set-up of a Centre for Turkish Studies.

Selected publications

[in publication]

J. Van Steenbergen, The Mamluk Empire (Edinburgh History of Islamic Empires) (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press), in preparation

J. Van Steenbergen, "Qalāwūnid discourse, elite communication and the Mamluk cultural matrix: interpreting a 14th-century panegyric", submitted for publication

J. Van Steenbergen, "The early Mamlūk sultanate as a military patronage state: royalty, household politics and the case of the Qalāwūnid bayt (1279-1433)", submitted for publication

J. Van Steenbergen, “The amir Yalbughā al-Khāṣṣakī (d. 1366), the Qalāwūnid sultanate, and the cultural matrix of Mamluk society. A re-assessment of Mamluk Politics in the 1360s”, Journal of the American Oriental Society, in press

J. Van Steenbergen, "On the Brink of a New Era? Yalbughā al-Khāṣṣakī (d. 1366) and the Yalbughāwiyya", Mamlūk Studies Review 15 (2011), in press

J. Van Steenbergen, “Caught between Heredity and Merit: Qawsun (d. 1342) and the legacy of al-Nasir Muhammad b. Qalawun (d. 1341)”, in A. Levanoni & R. Amitai (eds.), The Mamluk Sultanate of Egypt and Syria: Aspects of a Medieval Muslim State, (Ashgate, 2011) in press


banner activities Jo Van Steenbergen, Order out of Chaos: Patronage, Conflict and Mamluk Socio-Political Culture. 1341-1382 (The Medieval Mediterranean: Peoples, Economies and C ultures, 400-1453 65) (Leiden: Brill, 2006), 212 p. (click here for more info)

U. Vermeulen & J. Van Steenbergen (eds.), Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras - III (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 102) (Leuven: Peeters, 2001), 471 p.

U. Vermeulen & J. Van Steenbergen (eds.), Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras - IV (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 140) (Leuven: Peeters, 2005), 472 p. (click here for more info)

Jo Van Steenbergen, "The Alexandrian Crusade (1365) and the Mamluk Sources : reassessment of the Kitab al-Ilmam of an-Nuwayri al-'Iskandarani (d. 1372 AD)", in K. Ciggaar & H.G.B. Teule (eds.), East and West in the Crusader States. Context - Contacts - Confrontations, III. Acta of the congress held at Hernen Castle in September 2000 , (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 125) (Leuven: Peeters, 2003), pp. 123-137

—, "Taqwim al-Buldan al-Misriya (C.U.L. Qq 65): Identifying a late medieval cadastral survey of Egypt", in U. Vermeulen & J. Van Steenbergen (eds.), Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras - IV (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 140) (Leuven: Peeters, 2005), pp. 475-489.

—, "Mamluk Elite on the Eve of an-Nasir Muhammad's death (1341): A Look behind the Scenes of Mamluk Politics", Mamluk Studies Review 9/2 (2005), pp. 173-199

—, "'Is Anyone my Guardian ...?' Mamluk Under Age Rule and the Later Qalawunids", al-Masaq 19/1 (2007), pp. 55-65

—, "Mamluk Eunuchs, Habashis and Waqf in the 1340s", in U. Vermeulen & K. D'hulster (eds.), Egypt and Syria in the Fatimid, Ayyubid and Mamluk Eras - V (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 169) (Leuven: Peeters, 2007). (click here fore more info)

please refer to the UGent-lib for a complete bibliography.