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Annika Benz M.A.

Seminars and Courses

WS 2022/23: (1) Politics, Protest and Revolution: Introduction to the Anthropology of Social Movements (BA BM3); (2) Anthropology at Home? Processes of "Othering" and "Belonging" in Anthropology (AM3/4)

SS 2022: Anthropology and Activism: Between Intrusion and "New" Knowledge Production (BA AM3/4)

WS 2021/22: Youth, Protest and (Digital) Pop Culture (BA AM3/4)

Short Biography

From 2015 to 2021, I studied Anthropology (BA with a minor in Philosophy and Literature) in Aberdeen, Leipzig and Cologne. I wrote my BA thesis in the DFG-funded Emmy Noether Research Group "The Bureaucratisation of Islam" as a student team member at the Max Planck Institute for Anthropological Research in Halle, Germany. I conducted a month-long field research on Muslim tourism as a measure of a state-sponsored "Chinese Islam" in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China.

From 2018 to 2020, I worked as an assistant to the Action Network Human Rights Philippines at the Asia Foundation, Cologne, on human and land rights issues in the Philippines.

For my master's thesis, I conducted a four-month field research in Taipei, Taiwan on coming of age, future, and international higher education with young Taiwanese.

Since July 2021, I have been working on my PhD (supervised by Sandra Kurfürst) with activists from the grassroots movement Extinction Rebellion Germany. My project is associated with the research training group "connecting-excluding: Cultural dynamics beyond globalised networks". 


Since 01/2022: Sponsorship of the Gender Mentoring Agency of the University of Cologne

02/2019-06/2021: Study scholarship by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation

03/-07/2020: Research grant by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation to conduct fieldwork for the MA project "Navigating Excellence and Equity: International Higher Education, Elusive Adulthoods, and Future in Taiwan"

09/2019-02/2020: Huayu Enrichment Scholarship/ Language scholarship by the Taiwanese Ministry for Education for a six-month language course at the National University of Taiwan, Taipei 

03/-04/2018: Research grant by the Emmy-Noether Research Group to conduct fieldwork for the BA project "The Politics of Representation of Hui Chinese Muslims"  

Thematic Interests and Regional Focus

Political anthropology, intergenerational relations, social and cultural change, globalization, social movement studies, science and activism, collaborative methods, anthropology at home

Europe (especially Germany), East Asia (especially China, Taiwan, Hong Kong), Southeast Asia (especially Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines)

Research Projects (2021-2025) 

An ethnography with activists from Extinction Rebellion Germany (Working Title)
(Supervised by Prof. Dr. Sandra Kurfürst)

Extinction Rebellion (XR) was founded in the UK in 2018 by a group of environmental activists and quickly also appeared in Germany. In Germany, XR describes itself as a “international, sociopolitical movement” with the goal to “induce the necessary and profound changes for the climate” (XR Deutschland 2021, own translations). The grassroots movement is known for using civil disobedience as its protest method. The internal organization follows anarchist and anti-capitalist ethical principles such as breaking down hierarchies of power, inclusivity, autonomy, decentral self-organization, individual and collective self-reflection, transparency and creating an environment of a regenerative culture of activism. In my research, I am mainly interested in how activists experience, know, and act upon systemic and structural forms of violence within and outside of the movement. These forms of violence are within my field often described as "crises". 

I view myself as an activist/anthropologist and “contaminate” (Lederman 2006) my field. An essential part of my project is to interweave activist and academic perspectives. I’m also interested in the knowledge dynamics of conducting anthropology “at home”.

I’m conducting fieldwork from July 2021 to September 2022 with activists all over Germany. My fieldwork process is collaborative, and I cooperate with activists within and outside of my fieldwork.

Collaborative Book Project (2022-2024)

I am conducting a book project with two female activists from my fieldwork. The book is partly based on my ethnographic findings, but also the perceptions of the other activists on the German social movement landscape. The project, and ultimately also the book, will address the growing accusations of "extremism" against climate activists through biographical stories and protest photographies, aiming to provide multilayered and feminist perspectives on social movements in Germany. 


Benz, A. (2022) When Nothing Fits. Field Notes on Politics and Spirituality in Germany. [peer reviewed] Available from: https://allegralaboratory.net/when-nothing-fits/ 


Public Engagement/Interviews

Activist/Academic Interview with Esser, H. (University Radio Station Cologne, 02/2023): Why do we need civil disobedience? [in German]. Available from: https://static2.koelncampus.com/upload/userfiles/496/63ecd0b1423f6_kg-ziviler-uneghorsam.mp3 

Activist Interview with Von Poser, T. (Broadcast Germany, 11/2022): Climate Movements: Activism between frustration and radicalization [in German]. Available from: https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/klimabewegungen-frust-radikalisierung-100.html 

Academic Interview with Jöster-Morrisse, C. (University Radio Station Cologne, 11/2021): "The Mask of V for Vendetta" [in German]. Available from: https://static2.koelncampus.com/upload/userfiles/571/6185126ca88b6_kg-maske.mp3 


Presentations in Academia

11/2022, Cologne, Germany: "AnthroWHAT?" Why we need a new anthropology. With Eder, C.Z., Erkelenz, N., Kötter, J., Machnik, G.M., Meinaß, A., Rosier, L., Willuweit, L. Lecture Series "Decolonize Academia!", University of Cologne. 

09/2021, Bremen, Germany: "Making a Future in Geopolitical Periphery: Negotiating Intergenerational Notions of a Good Life in Taiwan". Biannual Conference of the German Anthropological Association "World. Zones. Atmospheres. Seismographies of the Anthropocene".

09/2021, Rome, Italy: "A New “Normal”: The End of an Era/ Refusing Excellent Futures in Taiwan". Conference of the Società Italiana di Anthropologia Culturale "Anthropologies of the Future, the Future of Anthropology".