Dr Esther-Miriam Wagner

Executive Director, Woolf Institute

Dr Esther-Miriam Wagner is the Executive Director of the Woolf Institute and Fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge. Miriam joined the Woolf Institute in 2013 having been Research Associate at the Cambridge University Library and was appointed Director of Research in 2017. She is an Affiliate Lecturer at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and teaches on the MPhil in Middle Eastern Studies: Muslim-Jewish Relations at the University of Cambridge.

She completed her doctorate at the University of Cambridge on Judaeo-Arabic in the Cairo Genizah and has written and edited numerous books and articles on sociolinguistics, historical linguistics of Judaeo-Arabic and Yiddish, scribal practice, and Jewish-Muslim relations in Egypt and Muslim Spain as reflected in the Genizah sources. These include Scribes as Agents of Language Change (2013), Merchants of Innovations. The Languages of Traders (2016) and A Handbook and Reader of Ottoman Arabic (2021). Her work has been featured on TV and Radio programmes, such as on BBC3 The Essay, in History Magazine and in documentaries on the Cairo Genizah.

In recent years, Miriam has become a popular speaker, invited to deliver academic keynote lectures and lectures to the wider public, including at the Hay on Wye Festival. She chairs Woolf Institute panels and webinars, including the Institute’s How to talk about … series, which among other topics, has considered Religious rights and Freedom of Speech and Humour and Religion.

Miriam is also the Vice-President of the Society for the Medieval Mediterranean, and the Editor-in-chief of the prestigious journal Al-Masāq.