PD Dr. Khanna Usoyan (Omarkhali)

Academic qualifications:


Priv.-Doz.: Venia Legendi in Iranistik; Habilitation im Fach Iranistik an der Philosophischen Fakultät der Universität Göttingen. Habilitationsschrift: "The Yezidi Religious Textual Tradition: From Oral to Written. Categories, Transmission, Scripturalisation and Canonisation of the Yezidi Oral Religious Texts."


Ph.D.: Saint Petersburg State University, Faculty of Philosophy and Political Science, Department of Religion and Religious Studies. Thesis Title: "Caste System in Yezidism", Saint Petersburg, Russia.


M.A.: Master in Eastern, African Studies in the specialisation of the Religions of the peoples of Asia and Africa, Saint Petersburg State University, Faculty of Oriental Studies, Department of Iranian Philology, Saint Petersburg, Russia.


B.A.: Bachelor in Eastern, African Studies in the specialisation of the Iranian philology and Kurdish Studies, Saint Petersburg State University, Faculty of Oriental Studies, Department of Iranian Philology, Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Berufliche Tätigkeiten und Forschungen:

From 2019

Researcher for Kurdish Studies (wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin für Kurdologie) at the Institute of Iranian Studies, Department of History and Cultural Studies, Freie Universität Berlin. https://www.geschkult.fu-berlin.de/en/e/iranistik/mitarbeiter/wimis/usoyan/index.html

Oct/2017 - Mar/2018

Research fellow at the Käte Hamburger Kolleg Dynamics in the History of Religions between Asia and Europe, the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, with the project “From Orthopraxy to Orthodoxy – Christian Influences on Yezidism in the Diaspora? The Discourse on Canonisation, Standardisation and Unification of Tradition among Yezidis in Western Europe”, Bochum.

Oct/2010 – Sep/2017

Researcher (wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin) at Georg-August University of Göttingen, Institute of Iranian Studies, Göttingen.

Since Jun/2015

Member of the Academic Board of the International Private Institute for the Study of Kurdish Societies (IISKS), Göttingen.

Since Feb/2012

Responsible for setting up of the Iranian and Kurdish Digital Audio Archive in the Institute of Iranian Studies in Göttingen.

Since Feb/2012

Member of the Cultural and Scientific Council, the Kurdish Institute in Paris, France.

- Mar/2014

Lecturer (Lehrbeauftragter) in Kurdish Studies at Georg-August University Göttingen, the Institute of Iranian Studies, Göttingen.

- Feb/2010

Bursar of the DFG Graduiertenkolleg 896/2 "Götterbilder - Gottesbilder - Weltbilder", with the project "Yezidi Religious Texts: Their Theological Implications with Some References to the Ahl-e Haqq Religious Tradition", Georg-August University of Göttingen.


Consultant to the Advisory Committee on the creation of the state religious examination for the Department of Justice of Russian Federation, during work on the decision concerning the world's first official registration of the Yezidi religious organisation.

- Nov/2005

Academic assistant (Wissenschaftliche Hilfskraft) in the DFG project "Kulturelles Gedächtnis der Yezidi-Gemeinschaft in Deutschland hinsichtlich religiöser Fragen", under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Ph. G. Kreyenbroek, Georg-August University Göttingen.

Research interests:

  • Yezidism (history, rituals, transmission into written tradition, modern transformations)

  • Theological implications of the textual tradition of Yezidis

  • Religious minorities in Kurdistan

  • Religion, orality and textualisation in the Middle East

  • Cosmogonic myths in Iranian religions

  • Questions of translation of religious texts

  • Kurdish dialectology, literature and culture

  • The concept of honour in ‘honour-based’ societies

Komparative Interessen und Querschnittsthemen:

  • Process of Transmission of Religious Knowledge in Oral Traditions

  • Canonisation

  • Religious and spiritual authorities in transition

  • Transformation processes in religion

  • Performance (recitation of religious texts)

  • Qualitative research in Religious studies

Language skills:

Russian and Kurdish/Kurmanji (mother tongue); English and Persian (fluent); German, Kurdish/Sorani and Armenian (good).