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Laila Abu-Er-Rub, M.A.

Associate Member

Laila Abu-Er-Rub, M.A.


  • Coordinator of the Cluster's Research Areas "Governance and Administration”, “Public Spheres”, “Knowledge Systems” and “Historicities and Heritage”
  • Coordinator HERA Joint Research Programme "Cultural Encounters" No. 586 "Creating the 'New' Asian Woman: Entanglements of Urban Space, Cultural Encounters and Gendered Identities in Shanghai and Delhi"

Contact information

Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies
Voßstraße 2, Building 4400
Room 222
69115 Heidelberg


+49 (0) 6221 54 4323
+49 (0) 6221 54 3556

About Laila Abu-Er-Rub

Laila Abu-Er-Rub studied Anthropology, Media Studies and Religious Studies. She works for the Cluster since 2009, at the beginning for the projects B4 "Transcultural Visuality Learning Group" and B12 "Rethinking Trends". Since May 2012 she is the coordinator of Research Area B "Public Spheres" and since October 2013 additionally the coordinator of the HERA Joint Research Programme "Cultural Encounters" entitled "Creating the 'New' Asian Woman: Entanglements of Urban Space, Cultural Encounters and Gendered Identities in Shanghai and Delhi."

PhD project: "Goldene Zeiten: Mode und Körper im neoliberalen Indien" (Golden Times: Fashion and Body in Neoliberal India)

Laila's dissertation examined changing beauty ideals and fashion practices in neoliberal urban India. Seeing ideals of body and dress as inseparable and interdependent media of communication, she aimed at understanding middle class sartorial choices and grooming practices by investigating their contemporary status as well as their historical roots.

Her research focused on the institutionalization of Indian fashion design and related changing modes of dress and body practices. She wrote about how new notions of adequate dress and beauty were connected to processes of modernisation and how a network of key actors had an impact on the localization of global lifestyle and fashion media. She took a closer look on how these actors translated transnational flows of images into local visual practices and how these were negotiated and performatively represented in the Indian public sphere.

During her fieldwork in the Indian mega-cities Mumbai and Delhi Laila gathered narratives of people involved in India’s emerging fashion and beauty business. She interviewed fashion designers, photographers, stylists, editors, models, model agents and attended fashion shows and photo shootings. Methodologically, Laila combines classical ethnographic methods such as participant observation with a historical focus on transcultural exchange processes, methods of visual anthropology and media analyses. 

The dissertation is completed and defended (July 2015).


Selected publications

With Sebastian Gehrig & Jennifer Elisabeth Altehenger 2011. “The Transcultural Travels of Trends. An Introductory Essay”. In Transcultural Studies E-Journal, Vol 2/ 2011, p.140-163. http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/ojs/index.php/transcultural/article/view/9073

With Cathrine Bublatzky 2010. “Tagungsbericht Flows of Images and Media. Annual Conference 2009 of the Cluster of Excellence „Asia and Europe in a Global Context“. 07.10.2009-09.10.2009, Heidelberg, in: H-Soz-u-Kult 20.11.2009. http://geschichte-transnational.clio-online.net/tagungsberichte/id=2857


WS 2015/16: "Single in the City: Gender, Media, and Urban Space in Delhi and Shanghai" (M.A. Transcultural Studies)

SS 2012: "A Transcultural Approach to Beauty" (M.A. Transcultural Studies)

WS 2010: "Gender und Werbung- Frauenbilder in Indien" (B.A. Ethnologie)



"Fashion and Beauty in Neoliberal India". Introductory Lecture B.A. South Asian Studies. South Asia Institute Heidelberg, 17.12.2015.

"Western Wear & Indian Wear: Challenging Eurocentrism through a Transcultural Perspective on Indian Fashion", DAAD Summer School, Oxford University, 9.7.2015.

"Western Wear vs. Ethnic Chic: The Two Faces of Indian Fashion". Fashion Tales 2015, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, 20.6.2015.


"Schönheit, Körper, Kleidung und kulturelle Identität in Indien." Vortrag für die Einführungsvorlesung für den B.A. Südasienstudien, Südasieninstitut Heidelberg, 27.6.2013.


"Mode und kulturelle Identität oder: Wie machen Kleider Leute in Indien." SAI dabei! In 50 Fragen durch Südasien. Vortrag im Rahmen des 50jährigens Jubiläums des Heidelberger Südasieninstituts, Peterskirche Heidelberg, 28.6.2012.

Discussant for the panel "Delicate Materials: Embodying and Colouring Intimacy". Summer School "Seeing Matter(s): Materiality and Visuality", Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context", KJC Heidelberg, July 31st, 2012.


“Contemporary Visualisations of Foreign Women (the “Other”) in India’s and China’s Vogue and Elle.” Conference ‘Gender and Transcultural Production: Chinese Women’s Journals in their Global Context’, 1900-2000, SOAS London, May 13-15, 2011.

“Outdoor Advertising and the Making of Gendered and Racialised Urban Spaces in Delhi. ” AAS/ICAS Joint Conference  Honolulu, Hawaii , March 31-April 3, 2011.

“Striving for an International Look: the Trend of Travelling Beauties in Asia.” Conference ‘Transcultural Dimensions of Popular Flows”, Heidelberg, October 28-29, 2011.


“’Brazilians, they look like Indians’: Changing Beauty Ideals in Indian Women’s Magazines.” Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological  Association, New Orleans, November 21, 2011.