Louis Massignon Chair for the Study of Religion

Scientific Coordination

Alain Dieckhoff, Stéphane Lacroix and Charlotte Thomas

The co-directors collaborate with a scientific committee which helps to set the Chair's reseach agenda. It is composed of five people in addition to the co-directors.

- Kathy Rousselet, FNSP Research Professor (a specialist of religion in Russia);
- Nadia Marzouki, CNRS Researcher (a specialist of Islam and religious freedom in Europe and the United States);
- Philippe Portier, EPHE Researcher (a specialist of catholicism and secularism);
- Augustin Jomier, INALCO Associate professor (a specialist of cultural and social history of the Maghreb);
- Manoël Pénicaud, CNRS Researcher at the Maison méditerranéenne des Sciences de l'homme (a specialist of the works of Louis Massignon).

The Chair's Steering committee is composed of the two co-director, the scientific manager, the funder, Jean-Baptiste Massignon, and a representative of Sciences Po's Direction de la stratégie et du développement (DSD).


The Chair is the latest addition to an already dynamic teaching and research ecosystem in the study of religion, which includes the Observatoire International du Religieux, the International Research Network (IRN) programme Contextualising Radicalisation headed by Nadia Marzouki, the Preventing Violent Extremism (PREVEX) project funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme, and the training programme “Emouna, l’amphi des religions”.

As well as drawing on contributions from Sciences Po faculty working on issues related to religion in various disciplines, the Chair will promote intellectual exchange and knowledge sharing between national and international experts by hosting events, awarding an annual first book prize, and running a visiting scholar programme.

“The Chair favours a broad or comparative approach. While Islam is destined to occupy an important share of the Chair’s work, other religions and religion as a whole will also be amply addressed. Religion will be studied mainly through the social sciences, without excluding more textual approaches (e.g. Islamology).” Alain Dieckhoff, co-director of the Chair.

Teaching and Research activities


  • Identification and labelling of existing courses at Sciences Po.
  • Set up of new courses at Sciences Po dealing with religion.


  • Annual award of a first book prize to a researcher working on religion.
  • Organisation of a series of conferences with the participation of leading international researchers. The intention is to hold three conferences per year.
  • Establishment of a “visiting scholars” programme. The visiting scholars will participate in the Chair’s research programme while teaching a course at Sciences Po.
  • A fund will be made available to support researchers in organising seminars and workshops on topics within the scope of the Chair. Two events per year are envisaged.
  • Possibility of funding a research group at CERI.

©Collection Massignon

The Chair was created thanks to the generous support of Jean-Baptiste Massignon and pays tribute to its namesake, the eminent Islamologist Louis Massignon (1883-1962). Louis Massignon was a professor at the Collège de France, where he held the chair of “Muslim sociography” (1926-1954), and taught at the École libre des sciences politiques, Sciences Po’s predecessor. A great Arabist, Massignon’s considerable scholarship on Muslim mysticism was instrumental in integrating this field of study into the nascent French Islamology. He quickly gained an international reputation and by the end of his life he was a member of academies around the world—in Afghanistan, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, Iran, Sweden, the USSR, and the US, as well as Baghdad, Cairo, Damascus, London, Rome, and more. As such, he played a crucial role for a generation of scholars focused on the Arab-Muslim world, such as Jacques Berque, Henri Corbin, André Miquel, Vincent Monteil, Germaine Tillion and Eva de Vitray-Meyerovitch. Massignon witnessed the major political transformations and upheavals of the twentieth century. His academic career was punctuated with personal spiritual commitments—he had a mystical conversion to Christianity, was a disciple of Charles de Foucauld and pioneer of inter-religious dialogue, and was secretly ordained a priest in 1950­—making him without doubt a complex and pluralist scholar, attuned to the major issues of his century.


Conference on 22 October 2020

La foi contre l'identité ? Le religieux dans les guerres culturelles

Jean-Baptiste Massignon, Alain Dieckhoff, Stéphane Lacroix

Speakers: Olivier Roy (Institut européen de Florence) and Adrien Candiard (Institut dominicain d'études orientales)
Moderator: Nadia Marzouki

Conference on 9 Decembre

Religion and Covid-19
Speakers: Danièle Hervieu-Léger (EHESS) and Grace Davie (University of Exeter)
Moderator: Kathy Rousselet (CERI)

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