dr Jan Lorenz

dr Jan Lorenz

Assistant Professor, Department of Social Anthropology

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

Office hours:

Wednesday 15.00 -16.30 (online)


In 2014 I completed my PhD in Social Anthropology with Visual Media at the University of Manchester. I joined AMU in March 2016.

My work is driven by the conviction that anthropology is particularly suited is to seek answers to some of the fundamental questions about human and non-human beings and the conditions of our co-existence and collective future. Accordingly, my interests are considerably wide, but they coalesce in particular themes, including subjectivity, the transformation of self and others, ethics and religion. For a long time, I have been fascinated with creative practice in art and anthropology and the use of experimental methods of research and representation in social sciences. I authored a number of ethnographic films and audiovisual projects and I have been working in the field of visual anthropology throughout my studies and academic career. I am a member of the Commission on Visual Anthropology of International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences/World Anthropological Union.

In one of my recent research projects, I explored the creative potential of contemporary sensory media art for anthropological research and representation. Currently, I am also interested in Buddhism in Poland and Japan as well as the religious and ethical dimensions of the rapid technological development in the fields of robotics and AI. I was also involved, as a filmmaker, in a visual anthropology project on the activism of migrants and ethnic minorities in Europe.

Since 2007 I have been researching personal and collective projects of transformation, particularly in the context of Polish-Jewish experiences, exploring the questions of relatedness and belonging and the phenomenon of the Jewish revival in Poland.  Much of my research on conversion to Judaism continues to explore the relationship between religion, ethics, and law.

Over the years I conducted ethnographic fieldwork and worked on visual media projects in Poland, Israel, the United Kingdom, Haiti and Serbia. More recently, I conducted preliminary fieldwork in Japan.

I am interested in supervising theses  on the following topics:

  • anthropology of religion (in particular Buddhism, Shintō, Judaism, Christianity, Vodou and Santeria),
  • anthropology of ethics (human relations with non-humans, religious law and morality),
  • anthropology of science, technology and society (technological changes, cyborgs, artificial intelligence, robots and automatons, virtual worlds),
  • anthropology of the senses and sensory ethnography
  • visual anthropology (multimodal research, ethnographic film)
  • contemporary art (in particular interactive installations, video-art, body-art, art as a research tool), identity and self-formation (religion and ethnicity)
  • phenomenological anthropology and anthropology of materiality
  • anthropology of belonging and relatedness (kinship, ethnicity)
  • disability, robots in hospitals and care homes

My most important ethnographic films are listed under the „Other” tab.

Peer-reviewed publications

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 (forthcoming). 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. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

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 a 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 Małgorzata 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 for trauma.’]

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

Ethnographic films

2019    Active (citizen), 30 min., in collaboration with Dr Piotr Goldstein, Zentrum für Osteuropa- und internationale Studien.

Ethnografilm Festival 2021, Paris /official selection

The Festival of Romani Film „AKE DIKHEA?” 2020, Berlin / official selection

Kratovo Ethnographic Film Festival 2019, Kratovo / official selection

2013    The Passage, 45 min., Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology, University of Manchester

Nordic Anthropological Film Association (NAFA) Ethnographic Film Festival 2015 / official selection

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