Nelly Van Doorn-Harder (PhD Vrije University Amsterdam) studied Middle Eastern Studies in the Netherlands. While coordinating a refugee program in Cairo, Egypt she became familiar with the Coptic Orthodox Church and went on to write a PhD thesis on the Coptic nuns. Contemporary Coptic Nuns, published in 1993, was one of the first on contemporary Orthodox Copts; that is Copts who were alive and whose evidence of existence did not need to be unearthed from layers of dust and pot shards. Since then she has published numerous articles, book chapters and books about the Copts. In 2006, she co-wrote with Magdi Guirguis The Emergence of the Modern Coptic Papacy: The Popes of Egypt. Volume 3. The book Between Desert and City that she co-edited with Kari Vogt remains a staple in Coptic Studies.
Her edited volume Copts in Context: Negotiating Identity, Tradition and Modernity is forthcoming in 2017 with the University of South Carolina Press.
While teaching at Duta Wacana Christian University in Indonesia, she did extensive research on contemporary gender debates by and about Muslim women there and on how women re-interpret the Qur’an and the holy sources Islam. You can read more in her book Women Shaping Islam: Reading the Qur’an in Indonesia.
Currently, her studies on gender have expanded to other groups that struggle to make their voices heard in Indonesia such as religious minorities. Much of her work on interfaith and religious rights have been done as a part of the Oslo Coalition for Freedom of Religion or Belief.
She currently teaches Islamic Studies at the Department for the Study of Religions at of Wake Forest University, Winston Salem, NC, and at the Center for Islamic Theology (CIT) of the Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam.