Eirik Hovden's research interests are geography, history and ethnography of Yemen, Islamic (Zaydi) law, religious endowments (waqf), local water management. As part of the VISCOM project he focuses on the medieval period of north western Yemen (around 900-1550 CE) with a special focus on tax issues, the Muṭarrifiyya movement, the dynamics of religious communities and methodology of comparative history.
In 2004, he completed his Bachelor's degree (Cand.mag) with the combination of Geography, Social Anthropology and Arabic. in In 2006 Eirik Hovden submitted his M. A. thesis at the University of Bergen, Norway, at the interdisciplinary master program "Water studies". The thesis is an ethnography of contemporary, rural, traditional water management in the north-western mountains of Yemen. In 2006-2007 he worked as an assistant at the Nile Basin Research Programme and in 2007-2011 he completed his PhD dissertation defending it in spring 2012. For the PhD fellowship he was connected to the Centre for Middle Easter Studies (SMI) and the Department of Archaeology, History and Studies of Religion and Culture (AHKR) at the University of Bergen, Norway. The supervisors were Prof. Knut S. Vikør and Prof. Anne K. Bang, the external evaluators were Prof. Brinkley Messick and Prof. Randi Deguilhem. The topic for the PhD thesis is the administration and jurisprudence of religious endowments (waqf, awqāf) in Yemen and how the Zaydi Islamic law of waqf relates to local practices. The thesis is currently being reworked into a monograph to be published in late 2016.
- (with Johann Heiss), Competing Visions of Community in Mediaeval Zaydī Yemen, in: Journal of Economic and Social History of the Orient 59/3 (2016), 366-407.
- (ed. with Christina Lutter, and Walter Pohl), Meanings of Community across Medieval Eurasia (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming 2016).
- Competing Visions of Welfare: Hijras and Zakāt in Medieval South Arabia, in: Eirik Hovden, Christina Lutter, and Walter Pohl (eds.), Meanings of Community across Medieval Eurasia (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming 2016).
- (with Johann Heiss), The Political Usage of Group Terms in Medieval South Arabia: A Comparative Response to Gerda Heydemann, in: Eirik Hovden, Christina Lutter, and Walter Pohl (eds.), Meanings of Community across Medieval Eurasia (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming 2016).
- (with Johann Heiss and Elisabeth Gruber), Urban Communities in Medieval South Arabia: A Comparative Reflection, in: Eirik Hovden, Christina Lutter, and Walter Pohl (eds.), Meanings of Community across Medieval Eurasia (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming 2016).
- Birka and Baraka: Cistern and Blessing: Notes on Custom and Islamic Law Regarding Public Cisterns in Northern Yemen, in: Andre Gingrich and S. Haas (eds.), Southwest Arabia across History - Essays to the Memory of Walter Dostal (Wien: Verlag der OEAW, 2014), 55-65.
- (with Rutger Kramer), Wondering about Comparison: Enclaves of Learning in Medieval Europe and South Arabia – Prolegomena to an Intercultural Comparative Research Project, in: Networks and Neighbours 1 (2014), 20-45.
- (with Daniel Mahoney), Stammes- und Religionsgemeinschaften im mittelalterlichen Südarabien, Historicum 31 (2014), 28-33.