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Prof. Dr. Esther Möller

Affiliated scholar

Personal Details:

After studying history, Romance languages and literature, philosophy and education as part of a binational degree programme at the universities of Mainz and Dijon, she completed her doctorate in 2011 with a thesis on French cultural policy in Lebanon in the first half of the 20th century. She then worked as a research assistant at the Leibniz Institute of European History in Mainz, where she led a research project on the history of humanitarian aid in the Arab world, funded by the German Research Foundation and the Gerda Henkel Foundation. For this project, she spent an extended research stay in Cairo in 2017 with the help of a postdoctoral fellowship from the Orient-Institut Beirut. She completed her habilitation at the University of Mainz in 2021 with a thesis on the Egyptian Red Crescent in the second half of the 20th century. From 2020 to 2022, Esther Möller held the Chair of Cultural History of North Africa at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich, where she was involved in setting up an interdisciplinary degree programme in Cultural Studies. In the academic year 2022-2023, she took up the Alfred Grosser Visiting Professorship at Sciences Po, funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation. On 1 October 2023, Esther Möller took over the position of Deputy Director from the German side at the Centre Marc Bloch.
Her research includes the history of relations between Europe and the Arab world, particularly in the areas of education, humanitarianism, migration and flight, the history of the Mediterranean region and the history of international organisations.

Research Interests:

Transnational history/entangled history/global history
History of the Middle East
History of France
History of humanitarian aid
Civilizing missions
History of education
Cultural encounters

Research projects:

Engaging Europe in the Arab World – European missionaries and humanitarianism in the Middle East (1850–1970)

From 2015 to 2018, the IEG was involved in the transnational European network "Engaging Europe in the Arab World - European Missionaries and Humanitarianism in the Middle East, 1850-1970", funded by the Dutch Research Foundation NWO and coordinated at Leiden University (Netherlands). 

Humanitarian action in the field of tension between colonialism, nationalism and decolonisation: The Egyptian Red Crescent, 1882-1956

Esther Möller's habilitation project dealt with the history of humanitarian aid in the Middle East from an Arab and especially Egyptian perspective. Building on archives from Cairo, Geneva, London, Paris and Beirut, it asked about specifically Arab discourses and practices of humanitarian aid in central conflicts of the Middle East in the second half of the 20th century. The habilitation project was completed in 2021.

The Ottoman Red Crescent and Its Relation with The International Red Cross Movement, 1911–1927

The project investigated the similarities and differences between Non-Western and Western societies in order to understand humanitarianism from a global perspective. The great variety of historical sources on the Ottoman Red Crescent can provide new insights not only into important political and social processes within the Ottoman society, but also on early moments of global internationalism.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement as a humanitarian actor

By analyzing the Red Crescent Societies’ humanitarian engagement in the Middle East and beyond the Research projects opens new perspectives on hitherto neglected figures of humanitarian aid in the 20th Century.