Dr. des. Anna Bloom ChristenLecturer
Anna Bloom Christen is a lecturer at the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Basel. In 2015, she was deputy assistant, acting for Rita Kesselring during her field research leave in Zambia. From April 2016 until March 2019, Anna was PhD graduate student in the Graduiertenkolleg “Das Reale in der Kultur der Moderne” at the University of Konstanz (Germany).
Anna has received her PhD in Anthropology in 2020. She holds a Master degree in Philosophy from the University of St Andrews (Scotland) and a Bachelor degree in Philosophy and Social Sciences from the University of Basel. In her master thesis “What is it to Engage in a Shared Action?” Anna identifies, analyses and historically situates two different conceptions of shared agency. She hence pleads for a concept of collective intentionality that is situated in practical, not theoretical thought.
Focus in Research
Anna is mostly interested in the theoretical grounding of anthropological methodology, especially in what is often lumped together as “participant observation”. Separating observation and participation, she explores their points of contacts, their common grounds as well as their merits and disadvantages for ethnography. Anna is also interested in the history of anthropology as a discipline and the development of different schools of thinking that shaped and shape the way anthropologists went and go about their work.
The overall aim of her PhD project—"Walking Together" (see https://ethnologie.philhist.unibas.ch/de/doktorat/doktorierende-und-projekte/ and https://dgw.philhist.unibas.ch/de/doktorat/g3s/doktorierende/christen-anna/)—was to explore local modes of a specific shared action in order to come to a deeper understanding of how the two methods at the centre of social anthropology—observation and participation—can be made use of in the most fruitful way. Her empirical research took place in Makhanda, South Africa, where Anna joined into local modes of walking together with women of the so-called "free-born generation": Black South Africans born after apartheid ended in 1994. Dwelling on edges, ends and conditions of specific ways of walking together, Anna scrutinised (her own Western) norms of what it is to share into a seemingly trivial practice that is fundamentally intertwined with racialized experience of public space. In this, the goal was to descry what happens when the mere observer tries to become a participant and how these shifts differ, depending on the way a shared action is practiced and perceived. Since completing her PhD in 2020, Anna has begun to work on conceptually reframing "habits of attention".