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Dr Jan-Jonathan Bock

Dr Jan-Jonathan Bock

Research Fellow, The Woolf Institute

Research Associate, St Edmund's College

Honorary Research Associate, Peterhouse


2010 BA (Hons) Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge

2011 MPhil Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge

2015 PhD Social Anthropology, University of 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, citizenship, crisis, trust, intercultural relations, interfaith, emergent political forms, political economy. Italy, Germany, UK.

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. 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 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.

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

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

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

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


Book Chapters (peer-reviewed)

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 ‘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 ‘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)

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



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


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 Refugees Welcome? Difference and Diversity in a Changing Germany, co-editor (with Sharon Macdonald), Oxford & New York: Berghahn Books