Michael Kemper teaches about Russian foreign policy ("Putin's Russia") as well as about the history of modern Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Kemper's research deals with the history and present-day situation of Islam in Russia, Ukraine, Central Asia, and the Caucasus, as well as the history of Orientalism and Oriental Studies in Europe. He has a special interest in the interaction between languages and religions (Russian and Tatar; Orthodox Christianity and Islam), and in Oriental (Arabic, Turkic) sources from Eastern Europe/Eurasia. Kemper directed and co-directed several research projects funded by NWO and Volkswagen Foundation.
Kemper is professor and chair of Eastern European Studies, one of the four chair groups of European Studies at UvA; between 2015 and 2018 he also served as head of the Department of History, European Studies and Religious Studies. From 2019 to 2022 he was director of the Amsterdam School of Regional, Transnational and European Studies (ARTES), a part of UvA's Amsterdam Institute of Humanity Studies.
Kemper did his PhD (1997) and habilitation (2003) at the department of Oriental and Islamic studies of Bochum Ruhr University; there he also directed, in close collaboration with Prof. Stefan Reichmuth, a Junior Research Group on "Islamic Networks of Education (18th-20th Centuries)", supported by the Volkswagen Foundation. Between 1998 and 2007, this group produced seven dissertations on Islamic movements of education in India, Syria, Bosnia, and Turkey/the Ottoman Empire. Before coming to UvA Kemper worked as assistant professor for Central Eurasian History at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY.
Kemper is member of the editorial board of Die Welt des Islams (Brill), Asiatische Studien/Études Asiatiques (De Gruyter) and other journals.