Friederike Pank

pank portrait

Anthropology (2021 cohort)

In my doctoral research, I examine how complex networks of political, corporate, and civic actors craft and negotiate local futures after the end of the coal industry in the Eastern German mining district of Lusatia, where Germany’s energy transition towards renewables must currently be put into practice. In particular, I look at how ambitious hopes for the economic revitalisation of the region are reconciled with local realities of disintegrating infrastructures and services, persistent rural depopulation, and widespread popular resentment, conditions which characterised the decades of postindustrial shrinkage following the collapse of Eastern Germany’s socialist regime and the ‘shock’ reunification with its Western counterpart in 1989.

My research will be conducted within the framework of the EMPTINESS project based at the University of Oxford, a comparative ethnographic investigation of five sites across the postsocialist sphere similarly marked by experiences of depopulation and shrinkage, the withdrawal of capital and state interest, and the disintegration of social relations and material infrastructures after the collapse of socialism in 1989. Its aim is to study the locally specific forms of life which emerge under these conditions, as well as to uncover the global political, economic, and historical processes which shape their emergence.

I hold an MPhil in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford, an interdisciplinary BA in International Studies from Leiden University, and a first-class music degree in Classical Piano from the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague. Besides my academic work, I am active as a performer, magazine editor, project manager of arts events and competitions, and writer of poetry and prose.