Research Director, Oxford School of Global and Area Studies; Departmental Lecturer in Russian and East European Studies
I joined Russian and East European Studies as a Departmental Lecturer in 2010 after a three-year Junior Research Fellowship at Wolfson College, Oxford (2007-2010). Originally trained in European Ethnology (BA, Copenhagen) and Anthropology (PhD, University College London), I have previously taught on the MA in History of Design at the Royal College of Art, and tutored Anthropology at St. Peter´s College, Oxford. I currently contribute to the teaching of Research Methods for Area Studies, Society and Culture of Russia and Eastern Europe, as well as teaching the special option Politics, Ideology, and Popular Culture: Everyday socialism and post-socialism in Russia and Eastern Europe.
Having conducted long-term fieldwork in Slovakia (2004-2009) and Poland (since 2008), I have two main areas of interest. The first is the way socio-economic reforms and EU-integration on historically embedded modes of economic activity in Central Europe, particularly artisanal crafts, pastoralism, and the heritage industry. Paying special attention to the way in which these reforms impact the working practices and conditions of small-scale producers, as well as their struggle for commercial viability has been a fruitful way into investigating how post-socialist liberalization has reconfigured citizenship, enterprise, labour, and gender relations. Working amongst the Górale in the border region of Cieszyn Silesia, Southern Poland, I also have a growing interest in issues of ethnicity and borderland studies. So far, this research has resulted in a number of articles and book chapters, as well as two forthcoming edited volumes: Neoliberalism, Personhood, and Postsocialism: Enterprising citizens in changing economies (Ashgate, 2013/14) and Economies of Favour After Socialism (with David Henig, Oxford University Press, 2014).
Recently I was awarded a CEELBAS network grant for two, one-day, interdisciplinary workshops. These workshops, which will be co-organised with David Henig (University of Kent), will bring together scholars from CEELBAS institutions, policy makers and representatives of third sector organizations to the debate linguistic, literary, and analytical aspects of informal economic practices across the contemporary post socialist Eurasia. These practices include networking, favouritism, clientelism, bribery, and corruption. For more information and instructions on how to attend, see http://www.rees.ox.ac.uk/languages-informality
My second area of interest lies between the areas of Design History and Cultural Studies, and concerns the history of textile crafts in Eastern Europe, as well as the integration of folklore and ´folk art´ into domestic design in Czechoslovakia and Poland. I have a particular interest in the relationship between the production of so-called ´folk arts´ and the formulation of Socialist Realist aesthetics, and the ideological appropriation of crafts into projects of Communist state-building. Having previously written about the effects of socialist cultural policy on craft practice and theory, as well as its ongoing influence on contemporary concepts of authenticity and heritage, I have recently turned my attention to investigating how artisanal craft and folklore were implicated in the visual economies of the socialist state in Poland.
I have benefitted from funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Danish Research Agency, the Nuffield Foundation, The John Fell Fund, and the Pasold Research Fund.