IAHR 2025


Anna Niedźwiedź

Anna Niedźwiedź is a cultural anthropologist and an Associate Professor at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Jagiellonian University in Kraków. She also has taught at Collegium Civitas in Warsaw (2006), at SUNY Buffalo (2006-7), and at the University of Rochester (2011). Her main research interests are situated within the anthropology of religion and have focused on the concept of lived religion. Her publications include The Image and the Figure: Our Lady of Częstochowa in Polish Culture and Popular Religion (2010) and Religia przeżywana. Katolicyzm i jego konteksty we współczesnej Ghanie (2015) [Lived Religion: Catholicism and Its Contexts in Contemporary Ghana]. Her recent project (2020-5) focusses on position and positionality of women in African Christianity and is grounded in ethnographic research conducted in central Ghana. Anna’s other interests are connected with anthropology of space and city, especially concerning the relationship between urban space and ‘religious heritage.’ She leads a Research Group on Religious Heritages [REL-HER] at the JU Critical Heritage Studies Hub.

Keynote lecture

Moving, dialoguing, transforming: ethnographic experiences and anthropologies of religion(s)

This talk will discuss non-obvious interconnectedness as well as disconnectedness in anthropological studies of what – in academic discourse – is defined as “religion(s)”.
I will focus mostly on contemporary anthropological developments and debates, especially those relating to the lived, material and sensual aspects of religion. I will draw on my own ethnographic experiences when doing fieldwork in two seemingly not interconnected settings ‒ Poland and Ghana ‒ where I have been studying personal and communal religious identities related to one of the globally institutionalized religions, namely Roman Catholicism.

How can these different contexts – East Central European and West African – be studied in terms of their interconnections? Where are the limits of this connectivity? What can we learn from analyzing the movements of scholars, academic ideas, peoples (whom scholars attempt to work with) and religions? How are these physical movements connected with dialogues and transformations? Where and how do academic and non-academic trajectories meet? Who sets the scene for such meetings? Are academic discourses about religion(s) open to non-academic ways of knowledge production? And who defines who and what is “academic”? In exploring these questions I will emphasize not only the connections between ethnographic experiences and the formation of anthropological knowledge but also the contextuality and positionality of this knowledge and its theorizations.