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Photo of Dr Jan-Jonathan Bock

Dr Jan-Jonathan Bock

Research Fellow, Woolf Institute

Research Associate, St Edmund's College
Honorary Research Associate, Peterhouse, Affiliated Anthropologist, Division of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge

Contact

jjb71@cam.ac.uk

2010 BA (Hons) Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge
2011 MPhil Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge
2015 PhD Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge 

Jan joined the Woolf Institute as a Junior Research Fellow in May 2015. As part of a multi-sited and interdisciplinary research project, he analysed the impact of crisis perceptions on trust in state public institutions, on the one hand, and on intercultural community life and solidarity, on the other. The project explored Berlin, Rome, Paris, and London. Jan carried out fieldwork in Germany and Italy.

In Berlin (2015/16), he worked with civil society initiatives that responded to the unprecedented arrival of refugees and asylum seekers. He also investigated how state authorities reacted to the challenge and declining trust in institutions to manage public life. Jan also studied the Pegida movement in Dresden – an anti-establishment, anti-Islam group – and how the population of a small town responded to a new reception centre for asylum seekers in the rural Harz Mountains. Jan is interested in how perceptions of state failure impact on social relations and community life in a country whose citizens have strong faith in their public institutions.

The subsequent year (2016/17), in Rome, Jan investigated how the Italian state addressed the challenge of immigration in a city struggling with ineffective public administration and a lack of civic behaviour, and explored civil society integration projects for asylum seekers. The second focus regarded the anti-establishment Movimento Cinque Stelle (Five Star Movement). In June 2016, the Movement won the municipal elections for the mayor of Rome and city council. The Movement’s success is owed to the distrust many Romans have expressed towards their municipal institutions and parties, plagued by corruption and bad governance. Jan explored tensions between the Movement’s practice of web-based participatory democracy and the constraints of institutionalised politics. He studied activists and their visions of citizenship as a way of reconnecting Italians with public institutions.

In 2017, Jan joined another multi-sited and comparative project at the Woolf Institute, and was promoted to Research Fellow. The research, in collaboration with the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), explores understandings and practices of interfaith social action and community building in London, Doha, and Delhi. Jan is chiefly responsible for the research in London, where he has studied interfaith efforts to confront division and prejudice in an age of uncertainty marked by Brexit, hostility to immigration, and terrorism.

Before joining the Woolf Institute, Jan was a doctoral student at the Division of Social Anthropology in the University of Cambridge. His thesis examined the aftermath of the earthquake that hit the city of L'Aquila, Italy, in April 2009. Jan analysed the social and cultural repercussions of the disaster and the disenfranchising state relief effort, and explored how recovery was envisioned as a political project of renewed citizenship.

He has presented his research at major international conferences and has published a number of articles. Jan is preparing a thesis-based monograph, and has co-edited a couple of books on citizenship during austerity and on cultural difference in Germany. Jan teaches courses and supervisors at the Division of Social Anthropology in Cambridge.

Building on his study of urban catastrophe, states of emergency, and political recovery in post-disaster L’Aquila, Jan’s interests concern how European citizens conceptualise new forms of political participation and cross-cultural solidarity during a period described as a major crisis of ethno-religious diversity and distrust.

Publications

Journal Articles and Book Chapters (peer-reviewed)

Forthcoming 'Grassroots solidarity and political protest in Rome's migrant camps', in I Katz, D Martin and C Minca (eds.) Camp Geographies Today: Contemporary Spatialities of a Modern Political Technology, London: Rowman and Littlefield

Forthcoming 'Migrants in the Mountains: Shifting Borders and Contested Crisis Experiences in Rural Germany', Sociology

Forthcoming 'State Failure, Polarisation, and Minority Engagement in Germany's Refugee Crisis', International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society

Forthcoming ‘Camps for those that mustn’t exist: transitory migrants and the absent state in Italy’ in I Katz, D Martin and C Minca (eds.) Camp Geographies Today: Contemporary Spatialities of a Modern Political Technology, London: Routledge

2018 'Negotiating Cultural Difference in Berlin's Refugee Church and Dresden's Pegida Movement', in Refugees Welcome? Difference and Diversity in a Changing Germany (edited by J-J Bock and S Macdonald), Oxford & New York: Berghahn Books

2018 'Introduction: Newcomers, Nationhood, and Negotiating Belonging', in Refugees Welcome? Difference and Diversity in a Changing Germany (edited by J-J Bock and S Macdonald), Oxford & New York: Berghahn Books (first author, with S Macdonald)

2017 'The Second Earthquake - How the Italian State Generated Hope and Uncertainty in post-Disaster L'Aquila, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol 23(1): 61-80

2017 ‘Social Activism, Belonging, and Citizenship in a Period of Crisis’, in Austerity, Community Action, and the Future of Citizenship in Europe (edited by S Cohen, J-J Bock, and C Fuhr), Bristol: Policy Press (second author, with S Cohen)

2017 ‘Citizenship, Community, and Solidarity at the End of the Welfare State’, in Austerity, Community Action, and the Future of Citizenship in Europe (edited by S Cohen, J-J Bock, and C Fuhr), Bristol: Policy Press (first author, with S Cohen)

2016 ‘Approaching Utopia Pragmatically: Artistic Spaces and Community-Making in Post-Earthquake L’Aquila’, Cadernos de Arte e Antropologia, Vol 5 (1): 97-115

2016 ‘Rejecting or Remaking Democratic Practices? Experiences during Times of Crisis in Italy’, in J Cook, N Long, and H Moore (eds.) The State We’re In: Reflections on Democracy’s Troubles, Oxford: Berghahn

Books and Edited Volumes

Under contract Citizens Without  City - Destruction and Despair in Berlusconi's Italy, Bloomington: Indiana University Press

2018 Germany’s Differences: Newcomers, Nationhood, and Negotiating Belonging, co-editor (with Sharon Macdonald), Oxford & New York: Berghahn Books

2017 Austerity, Community Action, and the Future of Citizenship in Europe, co-editor (with Shana Cohen and Christina Fuhr), Bristol: Policy Press

In preparation Citizens Without  City - Destruction and Despair in Berlusconi’s Italy, Bloomington: Indiana University Press (proposal accepted, manuscript submission in spring 2017)

Academic Conferences, Papers, Presentations

September 2017 Conference Paper: 'Science on Trial – The Politics of Expertise and Social Behaviour after the L'Aquila Earthquake', Trust and Expertise Conference, UC Dublin

March 2017 Conference Paper: ‘Diversity at the Heart of Christianity: Catholic Management of Migration and Multiculturalism in Rome’, SIEF Congress, Göttingen

December 2016 Invited Presentation:  ‘Hospitality or Catastrophe? Refugees, Polarisation, and Crisis Experiences in Germany’, University of Rome (Tor Vergata)

September 2016 Conference Paper: ‘Refugees in the Countryside: Engagement and Global Suffering in the Harz Mountains, Germany’, Royal Geographical Society (RGS) Annual International Conference, London

July 2016 Conference Paper: ‘Migrants in the Mountains: Experiencing Difference in a German Refugee Shelter’, European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) Biennial Conference, Milan

April 2016 Workshop Paper: ‘Negotiating Difference Through Emergent Publics: Berlin’s Refugee Church and the Pegida Movement in Dresden’, at the ‘Experiencing Differences and Diversities in Contemporary Germany’ Workshop, Institute for European Ethnology, Humboldt University, Berlin

April 2016 Organiser: ‘Experiencing Differences and Diversities in Contemporary Germany’, Academic Workshop by the Woolf Institute/Institute for European Ethnology, Humboldt University, Berlin

February 2016 Invited Presentation: ‘Crisis in Berlin and Paris: Diversity, Culture, and the Good Life’, St Edmund’s College/Woolf Institute Research Seminar, University of Cambridge

June 2015 Conference Paper: ‘Pragmatic Utopias and Community-Making in Post-Earthquake L’Aquila’, International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF) Biennial Congress, Zagreb, Croatia

April 2015 Invited Presentation: ‘L’Aquila’s Earthquake Trial: Tensions between Science and Society’, Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, University College London

December 2014 Organiser: ‘Who Declares the End of Emergency? Temporalities of Precariousness after Extreme Events’, Panel at American Anthropological Association (AAA) Annual Meeting, Washington DC

December 2014 Conference Paper: ‘Diverse Temporalities, Misconceptions, and Estrangement – Complicated Lives in Post-Disaster L’Aquila’, American Anthropological Association (AAA) Annual Meeting, Washington DC

November 2014 Invited Presentation: ‘Social Change and Activism in Italy’, Peterhouse Theory Group, Peterhouse, University of Cambridge

June 2014 Conference Paper: ‘Negotiating City Spaces – (Re)Constructing the Past and the Future in Post-Earthquake L’Aquila’, City Centric Symposium ‘Inventing Urban Modernity’, King’s College London

February 2014 Invited Presentation: ‘Italian Disaster Politics and New Precariousness – Transformations in the City of L’Aquila after the 20009 Earthquake’, Cambridge University Social Anthropology Society, University of Cambridge

November 2013 Conference Paper: ‘Disaster, Political Spectacle, and the Disappearance of the Social – Transformations in the City of L’Aquila after its Earthquake’, American Anthropological Association (AAA) Annual Meeting, Chicago

September 2013 Invited Presentation: ‘L’Aquila’s Earthquake Trial: Tensions between Science and Society’, University of Stavanger, Norway

April 2013 Workshop Paper: ‘Rejecting or Remaking Democracy – Experiences during Times of Crisis in Italy’, at the ‘Post-Democracies’ Workshop, Division of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge

November 2012 Conference Paper: ‘Democracy During Times of Crisis in Italy’, American Anthropological Association (AAA) Annual Meeting, San Francisco

Public Engagement

July 2017 Policy Paper: Trust in Crisis report, launched in the UK with a number of radio interviews and newspaper/magazine articles

March 2017 Policy Paper: Diversity and Trust, commissioned by the German Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung),

January 2017 Consulting: Austrian Embassy, Berlin, workshop on 'Changing Perspectives: A Constructive Public Discourse in a Complex World'

December 2016 Article: 'Performing Xenophobia, Breaking Taboos - How Pegida Started It All' (Intoleranz als Tabubruch - Wie mit Pegida alles anfing), Der Tagesspiegel

December 2016 Consulting: German Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung), internal workshop on populism and anti-establishment sentiment in Germany, Berlin

November 2016 Article: ‘Urban activists are forging diverse communities in a divided Europe - here’s how’, The Conversation, https://theconversation.com/urban-activists-are-forging-diverse-communities-in-a-divided-europe-heres-how-69171 (with S Cohen and S Everett)

October 2016 Article: Transitanti Migrants and Paradoxical Statehood in Italy, Woolf Institute Blog, https://woolfinstitute.wordpress.com/2016/10/17/transitanti/

September 2016 Panellist: Deutsche Bank and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung ‘Thinking about Germany’ (Denk ich an Deutschland) conference, Berlin, discussing the origins of rightwing anti-migration and anti-establishment protest in East Germany

May 2016 Consulting: Alfred-Herrhausen-Gesellschaft, invited expert for a workshop on the long-term legacy of the refugee crisis on German society, Berlin

May 2016 Article: ‘German Struggles with Diversity’, Woolf Institute Blog, https://woolfinstitute.blog/2016/05/05/german-struggles-with-diversity/

January 2016 Article: ‘Refugees Experience Diversity through Local Museums’, Woolf Institute Blog, https://woolfinstitute.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/refugees-experience-diversity-through-local-museums/

December 2015 Article: ‘An Experimental Approach to Integration’, Neukoellner, http://www.neukoellner.net/alltag-anarchie/an-experimental-approach-to-integration/

November 2015 Policy Paper: Commissioned by German Vice Chancellor and Social Democratic Party leader, Sigmar Gabriel, on trust in institutions and the production of stability in culturally diverse, democratic societies

October 2015  Article: ‘Candyfloss for Refugees’, King’s Review, http://kingsreview.co.uk/magazine/theblog/2015/10/22/candyfloss-for-refugees/

September 2015 Article: ‘Refugees in Germany: Learning from Berlin?’, Woolf Institute Blog, https://woolfinstitute.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/refugees-in-germany-learning-from-berlin/

October 2014 Article: ‘Intimacy, Love, and the Body – Rethinking Helmut Newton’s Photography’, King’s Review, http://kingsreview.co.uk/magazine/blog/2014/10/04/intimacy-love-and-the-body-rethinking-helmut-newtons-photography/

April 2013 Public Talk: ‘The Role of Memory in Human Life’ (Il ruolo della memoria nella vita umana), commemoration event of L’Aquila Earthquake, L’Aquila, Italy

April 2013 Public Talk: ‘Science on Trial. What happened in L’Aquila?’ (Wissenschaft vor Gericht. Was war los in L’Aquila?), Bad Harzburg, Germany

December 2011 Public Talk: ‘The L’Aquila Earthquake – Social Challenges in the Wake of Natural Disasters’ (Das Erdbeben von L’Aquila – Soziale Herausforderungen nach Naturkatastrophen), Bad Harzburg, Germany

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