The Middle East comprises regions, which are marked by ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity. The precursor institutions of the Institute for Social Anthropology have dedicated their work on the cultural history and philology of the Middle East. The long-standing focus on the modern social anthropology was established by Prof. Walter Dostal (1928 – 2011).
The thematic orientation of this regional group covers political anthropology and questions of ethnosociology, historical and recent processes of transformation, questions of representation and developments in the history of sciences.  
The single research projects encompass cultural heritage, contemporary social, religious, economic and political transformation processes as well as consequences of state violence on identities and memories. The processing of comprehensive scientific legacies is a further emphasis of this regional group.