ESR 13

Rukayyah Reichling


→ Recruited at:

Universiteit van Amsterdam

→ PHD enrolled at:

Universiteit van Amsterdam (The Netherlands)

→ Title Dissertation:

How Mecca was captured in a darkroom: Muslim pilgrimage, photography and the colonial gaze

→ Master Degree in:

Arabic and Islamic Studies at KU Leuven University (Belgium) – 2014-2018


→ Supervisor: Prof. Gerard Wiegers

He is full professor of Comparative Religious Studies in the Department of History, European Studies and Religious Studies, and a specialist in the academic study of Islam and the history of the Muslim West and Islam in Europe. He is also co-supervisor of Mohamed El-Moursi (ESR1) et Hayat Douhan (ESR 10)
→ Co-Supervisor: Prof Umar Ryad

He is Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of KU Leuven and member of the Young Academy of Belgium. He leads a European Research Council (ERC) project which focuses on the “History of Muslims in Interwar Europe” (2014-2019). 

He is supervisor of Elmozfar Abdelhafiz (ESR 5), co-supervisor of Eleonora Landucci (ESR 4), and co-coordinator of WP 2.

→ External Tutor: Abdurraouf Oueslati

Curator Middle East and North Africa at Stichting Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen in The Netherlands.

In what ways were Mecca and the Hajj as Muslim religious spaces mediated in Western frames of power, in knowledge production and visual practices? How did the shift from photography to motion picture affect European perceptions and public debates on Mecca and the Hajj in the colonial age too? And how did it change the role of the Hajj in Muslim life? How did Muslims themselves react?

→ Orientalism

Mustafa Çolak (ESR 6)

→ Western art collections

Mahdieh Tavakol (ESR 8)

→ Self-narrativity

Mohamed El-Moursi (ESR 1), Lena Richter (ESR 2), 

Rayane Al-Rammal (ESR 3).

→ Relation to the past

Mounir Saifi (ESR 15)

Links to other projects


→ National Museum of World Cultures ‘Tropenmuseum’ – Amsterdam, Leiden, Rotterdam, Berg en Dal (June-July 2019)


→ Cultural Heritage without Borders Foundation (CHwB) — Bosnia-Herzegovina (May 2021)

"Heritage interpretation, story-telling, historic routes"


→ Country


→ Name

Rukayyah Reichling

→ Contact 

Personal information

General information

Expected results



Film: ESR 13 Rukayyah Reichling



2020 has been extraordinary in many ways – also for Muslim pilgrims as this year’s hajj was cancelled for most of them. Epidemic outbreaks are, of course, nothing new in history. How then did hajj organizers deal with these risks in the past? Our MIDA researcher Rukayyah Reichling had a closer look at the first documentary about the pilgrimage to Mecca. Based on this valuable film material from the 1920s, Rukayyah sheds light on the health measurements undertaken by the colonial powers who were channelling the hajj almost one hundred years ago.


Powerful topic and film, Rukayyah! 


#summer_school #digitalage #itn_mida #wisskomm #IslamAndScience #scicomm #H2020 #MSCA #filmmaking #scienceandfilm #phdandfilm #pandemics #colonialism #muslimpilgrims #hajj #Mecca #healthmeasurements