AGYA Member

Laila Prager


Areas of Expertise:
Arab Health, Heritage in the Gulf Region, Gender & Matrifocality, Bedouins, Alawites (Nusairy)

About me

I am Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Hamburg (Germany). During the last decade I have undertaken ethnographic fieldwork among Bedouin societies (Jordan, Syria), among Kuwaiti-Palestinian refugees, and among Alawites (Nusairy) in Turkey and Germany.

Currently my research focuses on the upsurge of heritage related discourses and performances in the Middle East (UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Syria, and Jordan). In this context, I am particularly interested in the various ways in which ‘heritage’ is utilized to frame and legitimize cultural identities at local, national, and transnational levels. Among other research themes, I am examining the phenomenon that such heritage discourses and enactments are accompanied by a remarkable revitalization of imageries relating to ‘Bedouinity’, ‘Tribalism’, and ‘Auto-Orientalism’. Moreover, in the framework of my specialization in Medical Anthropology, I have started to conduct research on the societal transformations emerging from the increase of major diseases in the Middle East, such as diabetes type 2, thalassemia, and other genetically induced illnesses.

AGYA is unique in its vision and scope of bringing together Arab and German scholars and promoting innovative researches situated at the intersection between Sciences and Humanities. As an AGYA member I am looking forward to undertake such interdisciplinary researches by joining forces with other scholars to work on the theme of Arab Health.

Current projects

  • Member of the AGYA Working Group Common Heritage and Common Challenges
  • 2016 - 2017: “The Past as Destiny: Heritage Discourses and Identity Formation in the Contemporary UAE” (Research Project undertaken while holding a senior research fellowship at the New York University Abu Dhabi)
  • 2016 - 2019: Project funded by DFG (PA 848/5-1) “Fertiler Wandel im Sultanat Oman” (Project Directors: Laila Prager and Julia Pauli; Researcher: Maren Rössler)

Academic Career


2016 - 2017

Senior Research Fellow, New York University Abu Dhabi
2013 -
Junior Professor in Social Anthropology at the University of Hamburg
2011 - 2013Senior Lecturer (Akademische Rätin) in Social Anthropology at the University of Münster

2010 -

Language and Culture Consultant at InterCultural Elements (E-Commerce; Leipzig)
2009 - 2010PostDoc Researcher at the University of Leipzig (project A3, SFB 586); financed by the German Research Foundation
2010PhD (Dr. Phil.) in Social Anthropology at the Westfälische Wilhelms-University of Münster; Title of the thesis „Die ‚Gemeinschaft des Hauses‘: Religion, Heiratsstrategien und transnationale Identität türkischer Alawi/Nusairi-Migranten in Deutschland“ [‘The People of the House‘ - Religion, Marriage Choices, and Transnational Identity of Alawi / Nusairy migrants in Germany]
2007 - 2009Research Fellow at Münster University (project: "Socio-religious identity and inter-religious relations among the Alawi of Turkey); financed by the German Research Foundation
2005 -
Lecturer at the Institute of Social Anthropology at the Westfälische Wilhelms-University of Münster
2005Internship at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo
2005Master (M.A.) degree in Social Anthropology, Modern History, and Pre-History at the Westfälische Wilhelms-University of Münster

Selected Publications

  • 2014: (ed.) Reshaping Tribal Identities in the Contemporary Arab World. Special Issue of Nomadic Peoples 18 (2). The Isle of Harris: The White Horse Press.
  • 2015: Displaying Origins: Heritage Museums, Cultural Festivals, and National Imageries in the UAE. Horizons in Humanities and Social Sciences 1: 22-46.
  • 2016: The Miracle of Rebirth: Stigmata, Transmigration, and the Remembrance of Former Lives in Alawi Religion. In: Susanne Kurz, Claudia Preckel & Stefan Reichmuth (eds.), Muslim Bodies: Körper, Sexualität und Medizin in muslimischen Gesellschaften, Münster: LIT Verlag, 273-301.

see a full list of publications>


University of Hamburg Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology

Edmund-Siemers-Allee 1, West (ESA W) 20146 Hamburg


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