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Annika Benz M.A.

Seminars and Courses

WS2023/24: The (Im)Possibility of Decolonizing Anthropology: An Introduction to Decolonial Anthropology (AM3/4)

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. 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.

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.

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".

At the beginning of 2024, I started to work as an assistant to Erlassjahr.de e.V. - Development needs Debt Relief, the German coordination team for initiatves working on debt relief measures for countries in the "global south".  

Awards and Scholarships

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

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

Research Projects (2021-2025) 

Ethnography for Change?! (Working Title)
(Supervised by Prof. Dr. Sandra Kurfürst)

How can ethnography foster change? What methods are useful for applied, politicized ethnographical research and what ethical dimensions does this kind of research entail? My dissertation research tries to answer these questions alongside my engagement in diverse collaborative and public projects that I have been involved with since I started my fieldwork with activists from the German climate (justice) movement in July 2021. 


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

Invitation as an Expert for Movement Research for the Roundtable "The unpredictable factor" (Allerweltshaus Cologne, 11/2023)

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 


 Workshops and Facilitations

08/2024, Cologne, Germany: "Reflections on Academic Activism for Just Futures". Workshop for the students of the summer school "Shaping the Future: Sustainability, Cooperation, and Culture" of the Universitas Pembagungan Jaya, Indonesia and the University of Cologne, Germany. 

05/2024, Cologne, Germany: "Storytelling for Collective Knowledge". Facilitation of the "Roundtable" of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Cologne. 

01/2024, Online: "Negotiation and Advocacy for Academics". Workshop for the MSc students of the SPIBES programm at CABES (Capacity Development for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Experts). 

05/2023, Online: "Negotiation and Advocacy for Academics". Workshop for the graduate program of the African Climate and Environment Center. 


Presentations in Academia

07/2024, Cologne, Germany. "(Re)Searching for Collaboration/Embracing Academic Discomfort: Practical Lessons from Fieldwork for Change". Lecture series "60 Minutes in Ethnography, Theory, Anthropology" on the topic "New Frontiers of Anthropological Research" organized by Sina Plücken and Michaela Pelican, University of Cologne. 

01/2024, Online. "Laying the Ground for Intervention: On the Art of Critiquing a Movement." Workshop "Global Extinction Rebellion Research" organized by Hannah Fitchett and Maria Nita, Open University London.

11/2023, Munich, Germany: "The Patriarchy in Action: Gender and Power in a Social Movement." Conference "Mapping Gender Struggles: Gender as a Field of Conflict for Social Movements", DGEKW, Women's Academy Munich and Institute of European Ethnology, LMU Munich. 

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.