Mafalda Ade studied political science (with a focus on modern Turkey), Ottoman history and Turkish language and literature at the University of Vienna. After completing her M.A., she spent several years as a research fellow and assistant at the Centre for the Economic and Business History of the Eastern Mediterranean (CEBHEM) in Aleppo, Syria. She completed her PhD at the University of Tübingen in 2009; her book Picnic with the Pashas: Aleppo and the Levantine Trading Company Fratelli Poche (1853-1880) was published in 2013 by the German Orient-Institut in Beirut. Since 2013, she has been part of a French-based research group, Mediterranean Reconfigurations, as a postdoctoral fellow. Her own project deals with the institution of, and the practice in, commercial tribunals in the Ottoman Empire during the 19th century reform period.
After the completion of her studies and several prolonged stays in Turkey for language training, Mafalda Ade started teaching Turkish in 1997 at the Austrian Oriental Society in Vienna. In 2000 she took up her doctoral fellowship in Germany and taught several Turkish courses at the University of Erfurt in 2003. She first taught Turkish at McGill in 2013-14.