dr Jan Lorenz

Assistant Professor, Section of Social Anthropology

Room: 2.29/2.46
Phone: 61 829 13 81
E-mail: jan.lorenz@amu.edu.pl

Office hours:

Tuesday 17:30-18:00
Wednesday 10:00-11:00 (Teams)


My ethnographic research, writing and creative work encompass a wide spectrum of topics, but boil down to fundamental questions about human (and non-human) condition within and beyond its specific instantiations.   Since 2018 my work has been focused on two interrelated research areas. The first comprises folklore and religion in contemporary Japan, with particular focus on the ontology of religious representations and ritual objects. The second involves research on robots, automatons and mechanical dolls as sociocultural phenomena.   Much of my work in the last decade, looked at from that perspective, explored transitions between states of being, subjectivities and the boundaries of otherness. I have written about self-formation in communal and personal projects of religious conversion and ethnoreligious “revival” and explored how people adopt and adapt to ethical and legal obligations in attempts to transform themselves. A substantial part of my postdoctoral ethnographic research focused on people embracing or converting to Judaism. That in turn involved engaging with the religious context in a wider perspective, primarily that of Catholicism and Evangelical Christian denominations that many of the converts grew up in or belonged to.   Another field of my inquiry and output, close to my methodological commitment to multi-modal anthropology, is the interrelated topics of sensory perception, materiality and corporeality. In that respect I have done research on experimental media art, and engaged with these dimensions of existence and experience in my ethnographic films and audio-visual projects.   I am a member of the Commission on Visual Anthropology of the IUAES.   I am particularly, but not exclusively, interested in supervising theses on the following topics:  
  • religion
  • ethics
  • subjectivity and self-formation
  • science, technology and society (artificial intelligence, robots and automatons),
  • senses and materiality
  • belonging and relatedness
  • visual anthropology
  • art

Peer-reviewed publications

2021, Tactics of Transformation: Self-formation and the Multiplicity of Authority in Polish Conversions to Judaism. In Rules and Ethics: Global perspectives from anthropology and history, edited by Morgan Clarke and Emily Corran, 169-189, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

2021, „The sound exists only in your own body”. Sensory approximation of visual and aural impairment in media art projects. Visual Anthropology 34(1).

2021, Being and Becoming. Polish Conversions to Judaism and the Dynamics of Affiliation. In Polin: Studies in Polish Jewry Vol. 33: Jewish Religious Life in Poland since 1750, edited by Ada Rapoport Albert and Marcin Wodziński, 425-437, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

2018, “Belief.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Anthropology, edited by John Jackson. New York: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199766567-0190

2016, Polish newcomers to Jewishness: A reflection in the wake of the revival. In Becoming Jewish: New Jews and Emerging Jewish Communities in a Globalized World, edited by Netanel Fisher and Tudor Parfitt, 167-184. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

2016, Shades of closeness. Ontologies of belonging and becoming in a contemporary Jewish Community in Poland. In Boundaries, Identity and Belonging in Modern Judaism edited by Maria Diemling and Larry Ray, 63–75, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

2015, Counting as one. Moral encounters and criteria of affinity in Polish Jewish congregation. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 5(2): 51-81.

2011, Życie w miejscu śmierci. Muzeum/Obóz Stutthof w świetle doświadczenia I percepcji jego współczesnych mieszkańców. In Sztutowo czy Stutthof. Oswajanie krajobrazu kulturowego edited by Łukasz Banaszek and Magdalena Wosińska, 173–87, Sztutowo: Muzeum Stutthof w Sztutowie. [Life in a place of death. Museum/Camp Stutthof in the experience and perception of its contemporary inhabitants. In  Sztutowo or Stutthof?  The taming of the cultural landscape.]

2007, ‘Blizny od gwoździ. Haitański zombie jako idiom kulturowy i metafora traumy.’ Kultura i Społeczeństwo 51(4): 101–17. [The nail scars. Haitian zombie as a cultural idiom and the metaphor of trauma.]


Ethnographic films

2023, Typhoon Season, 10 min, Adam Mickiewicz University

2019     Active (citizen), 30 min, Adam Mickiewicz University, co-authored with Dr Piotr Goldstein (ZOiS Berlin)


Best Short Documentary, Capital Filmmakers Festival Berlin 2021

Best Environmental Film, Jahorina Film Festival 2021

Special Prize, Green Montenegro International Film Festival 2021


2014     Passage, 45 min., Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, University of Manchester

2009     Star, 25 min., Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, University of Manchester



Audiovisual instalations

2022 ‘Active (citizen)’ – Can anyone be an activist?, multiscreen installation,  in collaboration with Dr Piotr Goldstein (ZOiS Berlin)

2022 Robots and automatons in Buddhist and Shintoist religious practice in contemporary Japan, research project, Adam Mickiewicz University. 1.09.2022 – 31.03.2023

2017, A co-investigator in the “Visualising the Invisible: Using visual ethnography to explore extra-institutional activism of migrants and ethnic minorities” visual anthropology project funded by British Academy/Leverhulme (with Dr Piotr Goldstein (PI), University of Manchester)

2014, Becoming Oneself, Becoming Another: Conversion to Judaism in contemporary Poland. Postdoctoral Fellowship, Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Manchester

2013, Informal Jewish education in Poland and creative practice with visual media, Centre for East European Language–Based Area Studies Research Internship (participatory video project and film workshop)

2008, “Relentless dybbuk. The loss, the memory and the revival of Jewish life in post-socialist Poland” Doctoral Fellowship