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Austrian Academy of Sciences
Institute for Social Anthropology

Dr. Magdalena Moorthy Kloss

Magdalena Moorthy Kloss holds a Ph.D. and a “Magister” in cultural and social anthropology from the University of Vienna, and a M.Sc. in anthropology and development from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Previous professional experiences include working for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Egypt from 2010 to 2012, and for the German development agency (GIZ) in Yemen from 2007 to 2008.

Within the NFG project, Magdalena examines whether and to what extent groups at the bottom of the traditional social order – e.g. slaves, muzzayyinīn (barbers and other craftsmen performing tasks considered impure) and muhammashīn (or akhdām, marginalized Yemenis of African descent) experienced the effects of the 1962 revolution. A systematic study of available evidence shall reveal in what ways the social standing of these traditionally marginalized groups was impacted by the social, political and economic transformations of the 1970s and 1980s.



Eunuchs at the Service of Yemen’s Rasulid Dynasty (626-858 H /1229-1454 CE). Der Islam, 2020 (forthcoming)

Sklaven, Soldaten und Souveräne - die Naǧāḥiden des mittelalterlichen Jemen. Jemen Report, 2017.

Reilly, Benjamin. 2015. Slavery, Agriculture and Malaria in the Arabian Peninsula. Ohio: Ohio University Press. Book review in Arabian Humanities 6, 2016.

Zdanowski, Jerzy. 2014. Speaking with their Own Voices: The stories of Slaves in the Persian Gulf in the 20th Century. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Book review in Arabian Humanities 5, 2015.

Conference Presentations

Slaves in medieval Yemeni texts (ca. 12th -15th century). Forschungsgespräch Globalgeschichte, University of Vienna, 04.04.2019.

Eunuchs at the service of the Rasulids. Annemarie-Schimmel-Kolleg, University of Bonn, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Rasulid Entanglement in the Medieval Islamic World, 29.03.2019.

African ancestry as a fragile marker of othernessin medieval Yemen. University of Leeds, International Medieval Congress, 05.07.2017.

Presenter and discussant in the roundtable Histories of Slavery in Medieval Islamic Societies. Washington, Annual Conference of the Middle East Studies Association, 19.12.2017.

Co-organizer, international conference Speaking of Medieval Slavery. University of Leeds, International Medieval Congress, 04.-07.07.2016.

Queen trumps knave? Elite slaves and courtly women in medieval Yemen. Speaking of Medieval Slavery. University of Leeds, International Medieval Congress, 06.07.2016.

Slaves, soldiers and sovereigns: African slaves in medieval South Arabia. University of Leeds, International Medieval Congress, 09.07.2015.

“Ethiopian slaves in Yemen - A study of medieval Arabic texts”. Warsaw, International Conference of Ethiopian Studies, 25.08.2015.