Our Current Fellows

Marcel Kurpershoek

Marcel Kurpershoek joined NYUAD in January 2015, as a Senior Research Fellow in the Humanities Research Fellowship Program.

Most recent scholarly article:

Arabian Humanities special issue on dialectal poetry in the Arabian peninsula 5/2015 with the title “Praying Mantis in the Desert. The Najdi Poet Ibn Subayyil Consumed with Love for the Bedouin.” See https://cy.revues.org/2962

Latest scholarly article in Arabian Humanities:

Currently he is working on two volumes about Central Arabian poetry for the Library of Arabic Literature and preparing a tv series on Bedouin poetry and his travels in Arabia for Al Arabiya tv in Dubai.

His research subject is Nabati poetry, a traditional art in the Gulf and the Arabian peninsula. Its roots go back to the pre-Islamic classical Arabic poetry of famous bards like Imru ‘l Qays. His fieldwork started in 1989 in central-Arabia, at the edge of the Empty Quarter, where he found illiterate poets who were great masters of this poetry’s more recent Nabati version, with vernacular elements. These poems he recorded and published with a translation, introductions, and glossaries in five volumes, Oral Poetry & Narratives from Central Arabia (Brill Publishers). He wrote about his fieldwork in Dutch books that were translated into English (Arabia of the Bedouins) and Arabic (al-Badawi al-Akhir, The Last Bedouin, both Saqi Books).

In Abu Dhabi he will study the links between Nabati poetry in inner Arabia (Najd) and the Gulf litoral. In addition, he will work on TV competitions like the Million’s Poet. He has participated in workshops at NYUAD and contributed some articles on the subject in The National newspaper of Abu Dhabi. He has worked as a Dutch diplomat in Egypt (where he did his PhD on modern Egyptian literature), Syria, Saudi-Arabia, and as Netherlands ambassador in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Turkey, Poland, and as Dutch special representative for Syria based in Istanbul.


Henriette Müller

Henriette Müller joined NYUAD in October 2015, as a Research Fellow in the Humanities Research Fellowship Program.

Müller is a political scientist whose research focuses on comparative politics, comparative government and governance studies with a particular focus on political leadership.

She recently completed her PhD thesis at the Humboldt University on “The Commission Presidents and European Integration: Political Leadership Performance in Supranational Governance” in Political Science at the Humboldt University Berlin (HU) and the Global Governance department at the Berlin Social Science Center (WZB). She was also an affiliate at the Berlin Graduate School of Social Sciences (BGSS) and the French-German Doctoral College "construire les différences," a cooperation between Humboldt University and L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS).

Müller studied political science, applied linguistics and literature at the Humboldt University Berlin (HU) and the universities of Hildesheim, Germany, and Pablo de Olavide in Sevilla, Spain. At the NYUAD Research Institute she will conduct a comparative analysis on the influence of political leadership on economic development, exploring this relationship at the example of countries from the Gulf region, Europe, and Asia.

Laila Prager

Laila Prager is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Hamburg (Germany) and a member of AGYA (Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities). Formerly, she worked as a researcher and senior lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of Münster and Leipzig (Germany). She has conducted ethnographic research among Bedouin societies in Syria and Jordan, with a special emphasis on the narrative representation and performance of the past. In addition, she has done extensive fieldwork among the Arab speaking Alawi/Alawite (Nusairy) society in South Eastern Turkey (Hatay/Çukurova) and among Alawi migrant communities in Germany, focusing on topics relating to kinship, cosmology, inter-religious conflicts, ritual healing, and migration. She has also conducted research among Kuwaiti-Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Germany.

Since 2014, her research focuses on the upsurge of heritage related discourses and performances in the Gulf Region. Drawing on data collected during fieldwork in the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Syria, and Jordan, Prager is undertaking an extensive comparative study of the various ways in which heritage is displayed, enacted, and appropriated at local, national, and transnational levels. In this context, Prager examines heritage museums and parks, cultural festivals, local sport events, oral history initiatives, the reinvigoration of “traditional” art and architecture, heritage as covered in various media productions, and the interrelations between local heritage productions and UNESCO World Heritage discourses. By looking into the ways in which ‘heritage’ is utilized to frame and legitimize cultural identities, Prager is particularly interested in the revitalization of imageries relating to ‘Bedouinities,’ ‘Tribalism,’ and ‘Auto-Orientalism.’

Moreover, Prager is building up an interdisciplinary research project on the societal transformations emerging from the increase of major diseases in the Gulf region, such as diabetes type 2, thalassemia, and other genetically induced illnesses.

Laila Prager joined NYUAD in September 2016 as a Senior Research Fellow in the Humanities Research Fellowship Program.