Meet Laura Erber, our new IIAS Fellowship Programme Coordinator

16 September 2022

After a  lengthy selection process, we are very happy to have found the new Coordinator of the IIAS Fellowship Programme, in the person of Laura Erber.

We asked her to write a text to introduce herself and share some of her thoughts about her new job at IIAS:

Coordinating a fellowship programme that fully assumes its critical responsibility in a world in need of multidimensional knowledge is an inspiring challenge.

IIAS has a unique position within the landscape of Asian studies, situated as it is on the intersection of local and global knowledge, encouraging innovative approaches to research and bridging the gap between academia and society. The IIAS Fellowship Programme affords a great opportunity for the development and completion of ambitious intellectual projects and can also invite area studies scholars to rethink forms of academic collaboration and knowledge exchange.

My previous experience as an academic administrator and professor in different countries and institutions has shown me how complex the challenges faced by researchers in a fast-changing academic system really are. Over the last 10 years, I have worked in both South American and in European universities. I spent 9 years as a professor of Art Theory and Culture at the Rio de Janeiro Federal University UNIRIO, and was a visiting professor at the Copenhagen University and at the Catholic University of Portugal. My areas of expertise cover visual and cultural studies, as well as art history and literature.

My extensive teaching experience in Brazil covering a wide range of disciplines in a cross and transdisciplinary approach has provided me with the opportunity to develop inclusive pedagogical skills challenged by the increasing diversity on all levels.

Given the challenges faced by South American, African and many Asian students in accessing academic bibliography, I became involved in the debate on publishing policies for the university public. In 2015, I founded Zazie Editions, a non-profit venture that publishes digital books in Brazilian Portuguese, accessible on an open-access platform. I have also been actively participating in the public debate surrounding the democratization of access to contemporary, high-quality theoretical-critical bibliographies.

Aside from my academic career, I am a writer and translator with books published in many different languages. Having been a scholar in different parts of the World, over the past 20 years, I believe it is important to approach a period of research not only as a transitional stage towards a future goal, but also as a meaningful experience in and of itself.

It is my goal to intensify the synergy between the different programmes and various important activities promoted by IIAS, with a dynamic perspective, embracing different areas of knowledge. I also see the Fellowship Coordinator as the person who should sustain and potentially enhance the global reach of the programme, fostering collaborative, innovative and transdisciplinary research, facilitating the integration of Asian studies within larger intra- and inter-regional global dialogue frameworks, in line with the Institute’s mission.

I am grateful for being given the opportunity to coordinate and improve the programme. I will do my best to ensure it will continue to be a very welcoming environment, which encourages intellectual and academic exchanges among a diverse community of fellows.

Laura Erber
Coordinator, IIAS Fellowship Programme
6 September 2022