Lena Salaymeh

Lena Salaymeh

Fellow: Awarded 2019
Field of Study: Law

Competition: US & Canada

Lena Salaymeh is a scholar of law and history, with specializations in Islamic jurisprudence, Jewish jurisprudence, critical historiography, critiques of secularism, and legal theory. A frequent public speaker and prolific scholar, she uses interdisciplinary heuristics to explore historical, historiographic, and jurisprudential research questions.

Salaymeh’s first book, The Beginnings of Islamic Law: Late Antique Islamicate Legal Traditions (Cambridge University Press, 2016), was awarded the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion, Textual Studies. The Beginnings of Islamic Law illustrated that Muslim jurists are like artists who use a combination of reused and new materials to craft their legal opinions. The craft of legal recycling reflects Islamic law’s dialogical relationship with contemporaneous and predecessor legal traditions. Her other scholarship deals with taxation as the basis of late antique Muslim identity; comparing Jewish and Islamic legal traditions; imperialist feminist influences on the study of Islamic law; problematic heuristics in nineteenth-century German Orientalism; secular law’s role in generating judeophobia and islamophobia; secular transformations of laws of war. As a Guggenheim fellow, she will be working on her current book project, which explores historical precedents and legal justifications in revolutionary Islamic law. She is also co-organizing, with Ralf Michaels (Max Planck Institute, Hamburg), a research project on decolonial comparative law.

Salaymeh is Associate Professor of Law at Tel Aviv University. She was a Visiting Associate Research Scholar at Princeton’s Davis Center for Historical Studies, a visiting professor at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, and a Robbins Fellow at the UC Berkeley School of Law. Among other awards and grants, she previously received an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography. She serves on the editorial board of Law & History Review. She earned her PhD in Legal and Middle Eastern History from UC Berkeley and her JD from Harvard Law School. She is a member of the California Bar.

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