Dominik Müller
Dominik Müller
Head of Research Group
Phone: +49 (0) 345 29 27 333

C.V. | Publications | Current Projects

Research Interests
Political Anthropology; Bureaucracy and the State; Religion (esp. Islam); Normative Change; Popular Culture; Deviance; Magic/Sorcery/Spirits; Persuasion; Minorities.

Research Area(s)
Southeast Asia (esp. Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore; Emmy Noether project also covering Indonesia and the Philippines)


Dominik M. Müller is the Head of the DFG Emmy Noether Research Group 'The Bureaucratization of Islam and its Socio-Legal Dimensions in Southeast Asia', which is based at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle. He also holds a post-doctoral grant from the Daimler and Benz Foundation (2018–20), and a Research Fellowship at the National University of Singapore (2017-2020). He has been a stipendiary Fellow at Harvard University's "Islamic Legal Studies Program: Law and Social Change" (2018). In spring 2019 he is a Fellow at its successor, the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World, also at Harvard Law School. Before joining the MPI, he was a post-doctoral researcher within the Cluster of Excellence 'Formation of Normative Orders' at Goethe-University Frankfurt (2012–2016) and a PhD student at the same institute (2008–2012). He studied anthropology, law and philosophy in Frankfurt and Leiden (ERASMUS) from 2003 to 2008.

His PhD thesis on the rise of pop-Islamism in Malaysia received the Frobenius Society’s Research Award for Germany's best anthropological dissertation of 2012 and was published by Routledge in 2014 under the title Islam, Politics and Youth in Malaysia: The Pop-Islamist Reinvention of PAS. An article on the same topic received a Commendation from the peer-reviewed journal Indonesia and the Malay World in its Young Scholar Competition 2014. He received the John A. Lent Prize 2018 from the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) for a paper peresented at the AAS 2017 Conference outlining the Emmy Noether project's approach.

Since completing his PhD, Müller has also held short-term visiting positions at Stanford University (2013), the University of Brunei Darussalam (2014), the University of Oxford (2015), and the National University of Singapore (2016). He has taught anthropology courses in Frankfurt, Mainz Heidelberg, Halle-Wittenberg and Leipzig. He is an appointed member of the Junge Akademie | Mainz (2016-2020). His research has been published in such peer-reviewed journals as Asian Survey, GlobalizationsIndonesia and the Malay WorldSouth East Asia Research, Paideuma: Mitteilungen zur Kulturkunde,  International Quarterly for Asian Studies, the Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, and the Journal of Law and Religion. He has been invited to submit four entries to the Encyclopedia of Islam (Brill). He is the editor of Berita, the official publication of the AAS' Malaysia/Singapore/Brunei Studies Group. 

His publications cover a wide range of topics related to Islam, politics and socio-cultural transformations in Southeast Asia. He is also keenly interested in transregional and comparative perspectives, and intends to extend his work beyond Southeast Asia in the future.üller

Why Law and Anthropology?

I am fascinated by the phenomenon of normative change and how different forms of normativity, including formalized and non-formalized ones, interact and are socially (re-)produced – particularly when it comes to religious truth claims that are presented as unchanging and eternal by some involved actors. The methodological and epistemic foci of anthropology are most suitable for investigating such socio-legal questions, especially in the ‘messy’ realities of everyday life that interest me most.

In my view, as academic disciplines, law and anthropology can benefit greatly from transdisciplinary exchange; unfortunately, this endeavour is still rarely pursued. The Department of Law and Anthropology at the MPI is a genuine trailblazer in pushing this project forward, which makes it an exciting place for me to conduct my research on the bureaucratization of Islam in Southeast Asia.

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