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Prof. Dr. Claudia Liebelt

PD Dr. Claudia Liebelt

Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology

Professor for Social- und Cultural Anthropology; PI Berlin Graduate School of Muslim Cultures and Societies; Director of the Research Team "Gender, Body, Sexualities"

Landoltweg 9-11
Room 105
14195 Berlin

Office hours

Due to the pandemic regulations, my office hours presently are offered via skype/webex only

Kindly contact me via Email

Research interests

 My research interests are in the anthropology of the body and the senses, gender and sexuality, religion, migration and Critical Beauty Studies as well as debates on new materialism, toxicity and postsecularism.

My current research revolves around questions of transnational formations of the self, notions of hygiene, smell/smelling and the use of fragrances. My regional expertise is in the Middle East, with ethnographic research in Turkey, Israel and Morocco, as well as the Philippines.

I am a founding member and speaker of the working group “Gender & Sexualities | Queer Anthropology” in the German Anthropological Association (DGSKA) and a review editor .for Sociologus–Journal for Social Anthropology.


 Academic Positions and Education

  • April 2020–July 2021: Heisenberg Position at the Chair of Social Anthropology, University of Bayreuth; denomination: “Gender, Body, Beauty: Transnational Formations of the Self”
  • Oct. 2019–March 2020: Guest Professorship for Gender & Diversity Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin
  • June 2019: Dr. habil. and venia legendi in Social and Cultural Anthropology; title of habilitation thesis: “Istanbul Appearances: beauty and the making of middle-class femininities in urban Turkey,” Faculty of Cultural Studies, Bayreuth University (Germany)
  • April-July 2017: Chair of Social Anthropology (W3; in replacement of Prof. Erdmute Alber), Bayreuth University
  • 2013–2018: Principle Investigator ('Eigene Stelle') of a large grant research project on Aesthetic Body Modifications and Femininity in a Global City: cultures of Beauty in Istanbul funded by the German Research Foundation (No. LI 2357/1-1; on leave from position at the Chair of Social Anthropology, Sept. 2013–April 2016)
  • 2012–2013: Parental leave
  • 2010–2019: Assistant Professor (“Akademische Rätin”) at the Chair of Social Anthropology, University of Bayreuth
  • Nov. 2010: Dr. phil. in Social Anthropology (summa cum laude), “Caring for the ‘Holy Land’: Transnational Filipina Care Workers in the Israeli Migration Regime,” Faculty of Philosophy I, Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (Germany)
  • 2009–2010: Honorary Research Fellow, Research Institute for Law, Politics & Justice, Keele University (UK)
  • 2007–2009: Research Fellow, in the AHRC-project In the Footsteps of Jesus and the Prophet: Sociality, Caring, and the Religious Imagination in the Filipina Diaspora (PI: Prof. Pnina Werbner), Research Institute for Law, Politics & Justice, Keele University (UK)
  • 2005-2008: PhD Fellow, Graduate School Culture and Society in Motion (formerly Asia and Africa in World Reference Systems), Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg
  • 2003-2008: PhD candidate, international co-tutelle arrangement; supervisors: Prof. Dr. Burkhard Schnepel (Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany) and Prof. Dr. Eyal Ben-Ari (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel)
  • Aug. 2003: Magistra Artium (MPhil), Cultural and Social Anthropology (major), Islamic Studies and Sociology, University of Cologne; graduated with honours (equivalent to 1st grade)
  • 1997–2003: Studies in Cultural and Social Anthropology, Sociology, Islamic Studies and the History of Arts, University of Cologne (Germany)


WS 21/22 Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology FU Berlin

- BA Proseminar Themen und Theorien der SKA
- BA Vorlesung Soziale Beziehungen
- BA Seminar Care Work
- MA Seminar Materialität und Religion. Eine Einführung

Supervision activities

I supervise BA- and MA theses and PhD dissertations in the fields of anthropology of the body and the senses, gender and sexuality, religion and Critical Beauty Studies.

Head of the research area "Gender, Body, Sexualities"

My current research project is on "Aesthetic Citizenship: Formations of the Gendered Self and Imaginations of Urban Modernity in the Chinese Periphery" (2021–2024, funding: German Research Foundation)

Until recently, I conducted research on the “Olfactories of Hygiene,” i.e. the social, cultural and affective configurations of hand sanitizer, bodily hygiene and smell during the COVID-19 pandemic in Turkey and Germany.

Between 2013–2018, I conducted a project on “Aesthetic Body Modifications and Femininity in a Global City: Cultures of Beauty in Istanbul” (funding: German Research Foundation), which resulted in a habilitation on the topic.

Between 2007–2010 I was part of an interdisciplinary research project on "Sociality, Caring and the Religious Imagination in the Filipino Diaspora" (PI: Prof. Pnina Werbner, funding: Arts and Humanities Resaerch Council).


Selected publications


Monographs and edited volumes

2018   (with Ulf Vierke and Sarah Böllinger), eds. Beauty and the Norm: debating Standardization in Bodily Appearance. Palgrave Studies in Globalization and Embodiment. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

2018   (with Pnina Werbner), eds. “Gendering ‘Everyday Islam’,” special journal issue of Contemporary Levant, 3 (1).

2016   ed. “Manufacturing Beauty, Grooming Selves: The Creation of Femininities in the Global Economy,” special issue of Sociologus: Journal for Social Anthropology 66 (1).

2011   Caring for the ‘Holy Land’: Filipina Domestic Workers in Israel.Oxford, New York: Berghahn.

For reviews see, Rhacel Salazar Parreñas in American Anthropologist, Vol. 115, No. 4 (December 2013), pp. 699–700 and Avram S. Bornstein in American Ethnologist, Vol. 40, No. 3 (August 2013), pp. 598–9.


Peer-reviewed articles and book chapters

forthcoming, Beauty as a Feminist Keyword, Feminist Anthropology

forthcoming (with E. Alber, T. Häberlein,J. Martin, S. Maurus, T. Thelen and T. Zoanni), Revisiting Marilyn Strathern’s Relations: a Relational Reading, Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 146 (1).

forthcoming (2022),From Manicurist to Aesthetic Vanguard: the Biopolitics of Beauty and the Changing Role of Beauty Service Work in Turkey. In: Tate, Sh. and E. Gutiérrez-Rodríguez (eds.) Palgrave Handbook on Race and Gender. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

2021, Negotiating “Islamic” Beauty in Turkey, or Conceptualizing the Complex Entanglements Between Beauty and Religion. In: Craig, M. (ed.) The Routledge Companion to Politics of Beauty(Routledge Companion Series). London, New York: Routledge, pp. 247–254.

2019, Aesthetic Citizenship in Istanbul: on manufacturing beauty and negotiating belonging through the body in urban Turkey. Citizenship Studies 23(7): 686–702. DOI: 10.1080/13621025.2019.1651088

2019, Secular self-fashioning against “Islamization:” aesthetic body modification and female subjectivities among the secular middle class in Istanbul. In: Scheer, M., Fadil, N. and B. Schepelern Johansen (eds). Secular Bodies, Affects and Emotions: European Configurations. Bloomsbury, pp. 109–22.

2018, Beauty and the Norm: an Introduction. In: Liebelt, C., Böllinger, S. and U. Vierke (eds). Beauty and the Norm: debating Standardization in Bodily Appearance. Palgrave Studies in Globalization and Embodiment. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1–19.

2018   Reshaping ‘Turkish’ Breasts and Noses: on Cosmetic Surgery, Gendered Norms and the 'Right to Look Normal. In: Liebelt, C., Böllinger, S. and U. Vierke (eds). Beauty and the Norm: debating Standardization in Bodily Appearance. Palgrave Studies in Globalization and Embodiment. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 155–76.

2018   (with Pnina Werbner), Gendering 'Everyday Islam': an introduction. In: Contemporary Levant 3(1): 2–9. DOI: 10.1080/20581831.2018.1449932

2016   Grooming Istanbul: Intimate Encounters and Concerns in Turkish Beauty Salons. In: Journal of Middle East Women's Studies 12(2): 181–202. DOI:10.1215/15525864-3507628

2016   Manufacturing Beauty, Grooming Selves: The Creation of Femininities in the Global Economy – An Introduction. In: Sociologus 66(1): 9–24.

2015   The Gift of Care: on Filipina Domestic Workers and Transnational Cycles of Care. In: Alber, Erdmute and Heike Drotbohm (eds). Care on the Move. Anthropological perspectives on work, kinship, and the life course. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 23–42.

2014   The “Mama Mary” of the White City’s Underside: Reflections on a Filipina Domestic Workers’ Block Rosary in Tel Aviv, Israel. In: Fernandez, Bina and Marina de Regt (eds). Migrant Domestic Workers in the Middle East: The Home and the World. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 95–116.

2013   Consuming Pork, Parading the Virgin and Crafting Origami in Tel Aviv: Filipina Care Workers’ Aesthetic Formations in Israel. Ethnos: journal of Social Anthropology, 78 (2): 255–279. DOI: 10.1080/00141844.2012.655302

2011   On Gendered Journeys, Spiritual Transformations and Ethical Formations in Diaspora: Evangelical Filipina Care Workers’ Subjectivities in Israel. Feminist Review, 97: 74–97. DOI: 10.1057/fr.2010.32

2010   (with Pnina Werbner and Gabriele Shenar), Migration, Diaspora and Religious Pilgrimage in Comparative Perspective: Sacred Geographies and Ethical Landscapes. Diaspora, 19(1): 32–50. DOI: 10.3138/diaspora.19.1.03

2010   Becoming Pilgrims in the ‘Holy Land’: On Filipina Domestic Workers’ Struggles and Pilgrimages for a Cause. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 11(3): 245–267. DOI: 10.1080/14442213.2010.511632

2008   On Sentimental Orientalists, Christian Zionists, and ‘Working Class Cosmopolitans’: Filipina Domestic Workers’ Journeys to Israel and Beyond. Critical Asian Studies, 40(4): 567–585. DOI: 10.1080/14672710802505315


Other articles and book chapters

2020   Beautifying Istanbul: on neo-liberal selves and aesthetic body modification as a form of surveillance medicine. In: Sahinol, M. and R. Motika (eds). Upgrades der Natur, künftige Körper: Interdisziplinäre und internationale Perspektiven. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, pp. 139-156.

2016   Von philippinischen Altenpflegerinnen und Aufopferungen im "Gelobten Land". [On Filipina Carers of the Elderly and Sacrifices in the 'holy land']. In: Dachs, G. (ed.), Länderbericht Israel. Bonn: Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung.

2014   (with Manuela Bojadzijev), Cosmopolitics, oder: Migration als soziale Bewegung – Von Bürgerschaft und Kosmopolitismus im globalen Arbeitsmarkt [Cosmopolitics, or: migration as social movement – on citizenship and cosmopolitanism in a global labour market]. In: Drotbohm, Heike und Boris Nieswand (eds). Kultur, Gesellschaft, Migration. Die reflexive Wende in der Migrationsforschung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS, 325–346.

2010   (with Mark Johnson, Deirdre McKay, Alicia Pingol and Pnina Werbner), Sacred Journeys, Diasporic Lives: Sociality and the Religious Imagination among Filipinos in the Middle East. In: Knott, Kim and Sean McLoughlin (eds). Diasporas: Concepts, Identities, Intersections. London: Zed Books, 217–222.


Reviews, interviews and blog contributions

Since May 2020, “Cultures of Hygiene,” Academic Research Blog, https://culthygiene.hypotheses.org/

in print, Sertaç Sehlikoglu: Working out Desire. In Contemporary Levant

2020   (with Mihir Sharma) Cultures of Hygiene: Interview with Claudia Liebelt. Allegra Laboratory, June 24, at https://allegralaboratory.net/cultures-of-hygiene-interview-with-claudia-liebelt/

2014   Conference Report “100 Years Department of Social Anthropology at Leipzig University, 6–7 November 2014.” In: Sociologus – Journal for Social Anthropology, 64(2): 235–237.

2014   Jafar, Afshan and Erynn Masi de Casanova (eds). Global Beauty Local Bodies. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. In: Sociologus – Journal for Social Anthropology, 64(2): 242–244.

2011   Encarnación Gutiérrez-Rodríguez: Migration, Domestic Work and Affect: a Decolonial Approach on Value and the Feminization of Labor. New York and London: Routledge, 2010. In: Feminist Review, 99: e18–e20.



2011   Cycles of Care (with Lizza M. David), UK/Germany, length: 51:22 mins, HDV PAL 16:9 (colour), English/Hebrew/Tagalog with English subtitles. Watch online at https://www.kunstverein-hildesheim.de/caring-structures-ausstellung-digital/lizza-may-david-und-claudia-liebelt/


Berlin Southern Theory Lecture