Prof. M.L.M. van Berkel (Maaike)

Professor - Department of History, Art History and Classics
Professor - Radboud Institute for Culture and History

Prof. M.L.M. van Berkel (Maaike)
Visiting address

Erasmusplein 1

Postal address

Postbus 9103

I studied Arabic Language and Culture and Medieval European History at the University of Amsterdam and obtained my PhD from the same university in 2003. From 2003 to 2015 I worked as a postdoc (with a NWO VENI grant), lecturer and associate professor in the History Department of the University of Amsterdam. In 2015 I was appointed to the chair of Medieval History at the Radboud University Nijmegen and in 2018 as head of the department of History, Art History and Classics.

I am a social and cultural historian of the Middle East, with a particular interest in literacy, court culture, governance and urban organization.

Recently, I co-coordinated the NWO Horizon Eurasian Empires project (2011-2016;, resulting in a synthesizing book that explores innovative methods and concepts for studying premodern Eurasian imperial rulers and elites in comparative perspective (Prince, Pen and Sword. Eurasian Perspectives, forthcoming at Brill 2017). I also cooperated in the history work package of the FP7 project Anti-Corruption Policies Revisited: Global Trends and European Responses to the Challenge of Corruption (2012-2017; The results of this project are published in a volume (Anticorruption in History: From Antiquity to the Modern Era, OUP 2017), demonstrating developments in anti-corruption practices across space and time. My contribution stresses the tensions between bureaucratic ideals and practices in Middle East polities (9th-11th c.).

My current research project investigates water management in the premodern Middle Eastern city. Managing water is the greatest challenge this water-scarce region faces and has faced in the past. Nevertheless, its pre-modern urban communities were able to provide large populations with water. This project explores conditions for sustainable water management by analysing successful and unsuccessful strategies and practices of the urban water supply.


Research grants and prizes