skip to primary navigationskip to content

Dr Jan-Jonathan Bock

Dr Jan-Jonathan Bock

Junior Research Fellow, The Woolf Institute

Research Associate, St Edmund's College

Honorary Research Associate, Peterhouse


MA (Hons) Social Anthropology, Cambridge
MPhil Social Anthropology, Cambridge
PhD Social Anthropology, Cambridge
(PhD Thesis: L'Aquila - The Social Consequences of Disaster and the Recovery of Everyday Life in an Italian Urban Environment)

Research Interests

Urban anthropology, Italy, Germany, trust, crisis, citizenship, intercultural relations, political anthropology

Jan joined the Woolf Institute as a Junior Research Fellow in May 2015. As part of a multi-sited and interdisciplinary research project, he analyses the impact of crisis perceptions on trust in state public institutions and on practices of intercultural community life and solidarity. The project explores Berlin, Rome, Paris, and London. Jan is responsible for the fieldwork in Germany and Italy.

In Berlin, he has worked with civil society initiatives responding to the so-called refugee crisis. An important part of his research concerns how state authorities respond to the challenge and to declining trust in institutions to manage public life. Jan also studied the Pegida movement in Dresden – an anti-establishment, anti-Islam platform – and how a small town community responded to the arrival of asylum seekers in the northern German Harz Mountains. Jan is interested in how perceptions of state failure impact on local social relations and community life in a country whose citizens are traditionally strongly attached to their public institutions.

In Rome, Jan has investigated how the Italian state deals with migration, as well as civil society integration and support projects for asylum seekers. The second focus of his work in Italy regards the anti-establishment protest platform Movimento Cinque Stelle (Five Star Movement). In June 2016, the Movement won the municipal elections for the mayor of Rome and attained a large majority in the city council. The Movement’s success depends on distrust many Romans have towards their local institutions and parties, plagued by corruption and organised crime. Jan is interested in the ways in which the Movement’s practice of web-based participatory democracy negotiates managed the constraints of institutionalised politics, and in notions of citizenship that motivate activists who seek to reconnect Italians with their public institutions.

Before joining the Woolf Institute, Jan was a doctoral student at the Division of Social Anthropology in the University of Cambridge. His thesis explored the aftermath of an earthquake that hit the Italian city of L'Aquila in April 2009. Jan analysed the social and cultural repercussions of the disaster, and explored the important of political agency and citizenship for recovery efforts. He has presented his research at major international conferences and has published a number of articles. Jan is preparing a thesis-based monograph, and is editing a couple of books on citizenship during austerity and on cultural difference in Germany. At the Division of Social Anthropology, Jan has supervised students in The Anthropology of Cities and Space; Political Economy and Social Transformations; and The Anthropology of Europe. He has supervised undergraduate dissertations in Social Anthropology and Sociology.

Building on his study of disaster experiences and emergency interventions in post-earthquake L’Aquila, Jan examines how European citizens experience their capacity for political participation and cross-cultural solidarity during a period described as a major crisis of the West.


Currently on research leave.

Key Publications

Journal Articles and Book Chapters (peer-reviewed)

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

2017 ‘The Second Earthquake - How the Italian State Generated Hope and Uncertainty in post-Disaster L’Aquila, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (March 2017 issue)

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)

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)

2018 ‘Introduction: Newcomers, Nationhood, and Negotiating Belonging in Germany’, in Germany’s Differences: Newcomers, Nationhood, and Negotiating Belonging (edited by J-J Bock and S Macdonald), Oxford & New York: Berghahn Books (first author, with S Macdonald)

2018 ‘Localizing Cultural Difference in Berlin’s Refugee Church and Dresden’s Pegida Movement’, in Germany’s Differences: Newcomers, Nationhood, and Negotiating Belonging (edited by J-J Bock and S Macdonald), Oxford & New York: Berghahn Books

Forthcoming ‘State Failure and Political Polarisation 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


Books and Edited Volumes

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

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

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