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Dr ​Tobias Müller

Junior Research Fellow


Tobias Müller joined the Woolf Institute as Junior Research Fellow in November 2018. He is a College Research Associate at King’s College, a Teaching Associate at Queens’ College and Postdoctoral Research Affiliate at the Department of Politics and International Relations. Tobias is a political scientist working in the fields of political theory, political sociology, political anthropology, gender, secularism and religion. Tobias is the principal researcher of the project Strictly Observant Religion, Gender and the State on which he is working with Dr Ed Kessler MBE. The project aims to understand how groups that claim strict observance to their religion interact with the state regarding questions of gender and sexuality. It seeks to investigate how gender and sexuality emerge as fields of contestation and cooperation between religious people and the secular-liberal order advanced through the modern state.

Tobias Müller's PhD research, Muslims and the Relational State. Contesting Security, Identity, Diversity was supported by a Vice Chancellor's Award from the University of Cambridge and a doctoral scholarship of the German National Scholarship Foundation. His doctoral research investigated patterns of the mutually transformative interactions of Muslims and various levels of the state through the lens of two diverse urban neighbourhoods in Germany and the UK.

Tobias' recent work was published in Religion, State and Society, Political Theory, Review of Faith & International Affairs, Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft / Comparative Politics and Governance and Rivista di Politica. He is co-editor of a special issue in Ethnic and Racial Studies on “Rethinking Islam and Space in Europe: Governance, Institutions, Performance” with Chris Moses and Adela Taleb. At the University of Cambridge, he teaches at the Department of Politics and International Studies on "The Modern States and its Alternatives", "Political Philosophy and History of Political Thought from c.1890" and on the MPhil course "Comparative Religion and Politics". He also supervises for the paper "Understanding Contemporary Religion" at the Faculty of Divinity and acts as examiner for POLIS and the Department of Sociology. Tobias holds an MPhil in Politics and International Relations from the University of Cambridge and an MA in Study of Religion and Culture from Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich. His research interests include 20th century political thought, continental, post-colonial and critical political theory, politics of secularism and religion in Europe.

Key publications

Müller, Tobias (forthcoming): Secularisation theory and its discontents. Recapturing decolonial and gendered narratives. Social Compass, 67(2).

Moses, Chris, Müller, Tobias, and Taleb, Adela (ed) (forthcoming): Reconsidering Islam and Space in Europe: Governance, Institutions, Performance. Ethnic and Racial Studies. Müller, Tobias (2019): Reconsidering the spatiality of religion and the state: relationality and the mosque not built. Religion, State & Society, 47(4–5), 474–490.

Müller, Tobias (2018): Destabilizing Religion, Secularism, and the State, in Political Theory, 46(3), 455-466. 

Müller, Tobias (2018): Constructing Cultural Boarders: Depictions of Muslim Refugees in British and German Media, Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft / Comparative Governance and Politics, 12(1), 263-277.

Müller, Tobias (2018): Sicherheitswissen und Extremismus. Definitionsdynamiken in der deutschen Islampolitik (Security knowledge and extremism. Dynamics of definition in the German politics on Islam), in Schirin Amir-Moazami (ed.) Der Inspizierte Muslim. Zur Politisierung der Islamforschung in Europa, Bielefeld: Transcript.

Müller, Tobias (2017): Engaging "Moderates" Against "Extremists" in German Politics on Islam, in The Review of Faith & International Affairs, 15(2), 55-65.

Müller, Tobias (2017): Provincializing Political Education: Postkoloniale Politische Theorie, in Markus Gloe und Tonio Oeftering (ed), Politische Theorie meets Politische Bildung, Wiesbaden: Nomos.

Müller, Tobias (2017): Constructing Islam and Secularism in the German Islam Conference, in Paul Anderson and Julian Hargreaves (ed), Muslims in the UK and Europe III, Cambridge: Centre for Islamic Studies, 49-62. Available online:

Müller, Tobias (2016): Il potere del popolo è laico? Un'analisi critica della religione e del potere del popolo nella teoria democratia liberale (Is people's power secular? A critical analysis of religion and people's power in liberal democratic theory), in Rivista di Politica, 4/2016, 49-64.

A podcast on Tobias's research on strictly observant religion can be found here.

Events, talks and presentations

27 February 2020, “Producing Knowledge and Islam”, panel speaker at research event “From Data to Policy”, King’s College, Cambridge.  

10 December 2019, “Criticising secularism: Nationalism, Islam and Violence”, paper presented at international DAAD sponsored workshop on “Religion and the nation state in Europe" University of Cambridge.  

12 July 2019, “Muslims and the Relational State. Contesting Security, Identity and Diversity”, paper presented at the International Society for the Sociology of Religion Biannual Conference, Autonomous University of Barcelona.

27 June 2019, “Facing the state: Contesting knowledge, authority and subjectivity in the interactions between Muslims and government officials in Germany and the UK”, paper presented at the conference “The Changing Face of Religious Authority, Knowledge, Legitimacy and Power”, Woolf Institute, Cambridge.

23 May 2019: Reconsidering Gender, Religion and Agency, panel discussion with Dr Laura Davies (Department of English and King’s College, Cambridge), Dr Julienne Obadia (Centre for Gender Studies and King’s College), Dr Lea Taragin-Zeller (Woolf Institute and University of Cambridge) and Tobias Müller (Woolf Institute)

8 May 2019: Hope and Fear in Response to Religious Diversity: Contesting Security, Identity and Diversity in London Research presentations and discussion with Tobias Müller (Woolf Institute), Dr Emanuelle Degli Esposti (Centre for Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge), Prof John Dunn (King's College and POLIS), Prof Richard Bourke (King's College and Faculty of History) 

27 March 2019: Discontents of Toleration: Local Religious Freedom, Depoliticisation and the Nation State, research presentation by Tobias Müller (Presentation at CRASSH Conference: Toleration and Religious Freedom in the Early Modern and Contemporary World, University of Cambridge)

4 February 2019: How to talk about Islam? Contemporary debates in Political Science and Anthropology of Religion, research presentation by Dr Charlotte Proudman, Dr Peter McMurray, Dr Andrew Marsham and Tobias Müller (Queens' College Cambridge SCR presentations)

12 December 2018: Strictly Observant Religion, Gender and the State, research presentation at the House of Lords  

23 October 2018: Localising the Secular State: a Relational-Governmentality Approach to Governing Religion in Cities (international workshop „Understanding Urban Religion. Heritage, Public Space and Governance“, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 25-27 October 2018). 

15 October 2018: Rethinking Religious Fundamentalism (University of Cambridge Festival of Ideas), panel discussion with Prof Kim Knott (Lancaster University), Dr Ed Kessler (Woolf Institute), Dr Sara Silvestri (St. Edmund’s and University of Cambridge) and Tobias Müller (Woolf Institute).

4 July 2018: Security Knowledge and Extremism. Dynamics of Definition in the German Politics on Islam, (public presentation of the book „Der inspizierte Muslim. Zur Politisierung der Islamforschung in Europa“, Transcript 2018, Free University Berlin).

Blog posts and podcasts

Doing research on Religion, Gender and the State

Churches as spaces of encounter and challenge


Social Media and the Modern Day Messiah 

Food Glorious Food

Sick Planet  

What is Fundamentalism and What Should We Do About It? by Tobias Müller, September 26, 2018

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