Mélikoff's ancestors had been major industrialists in Baku, but she was born in the Russian capital. The family fled revolutionary Russia soon after the Communist takeover within weeks of her birth, arriving in France in 1919, when she was just two. There she graduated in Oriental languages from Sorbonne University in Paris. She gained her doctorate there in 1957.
She long headed the Turkic and Iranian Studies Institute at Strasbourg University and was one of the co-founders of Turcica magazine as well as chairwoman of the Turkic Development Group. She was the author of a number of publications on Turkic studies - particularly on Sufism, the Alevis and Bektashis in Turkey - and received more than ten prestigious awards for her contribution to Oriental studies. She was an honorary doctor at Baku State University.
She died from a serious illness in January 2009 in Strasbourg.
- Institut Français d'Etudes Anatoliennes d'Istanbul
- Tribute at Strasbourg University Turkish Studies Department
- Turkologist Melikoff dies at 91
- ANS article on her death
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