Anna Niedźwiedź PhD, habilitated, Associate Professor

Board Member: the Ethnological Committee [2020-2024] in the Polish Academy of Sciences

Vice-Chair: the Committee for African Studies [within the Ethnological Committee in the Polish Academy of Sciences)

Board Member: Jagiellonian Research Center for African Studies

Board Member: EASA PILNET (Pilgrimage Studies Network)

Jagiellonian University leader for Una Europa Transnational Research Team "Heritage, Global Migration and Mobility"

Google Scholar

Research Gate


Curriculum vitae

List of Publications

Being an anthropologist not only entails your academic engagement. For me it is also a certain way of life and a way of seeing the world. It is connected with an enormous curiosity and willingness to discover and understand one’s own culture – seemingly well-known and tamed – as well as more distant cultural worlds and imaginations. I did ethnographic fieldwork both in my own country and in Ghana. While working on my PhD dissertation in Poland, I researched the religious cult and national usages of the image of Our Lady of Częstochowa. My further research in Poland focused on spatial changes and the mythologization of my hometown – Kraków. Since 2009 I have also been conducting fieldwork in Ghana where I concentrate on religions, especially on Roman Catholicism lived in dynamic and diverse contemporary African contexts. It was probably my West African experiences, when I dared to dance at grand Ghanaian funerals, which made me clearly realize that anthropology, if it seriously wants to be a ‘humanistic’ science, must be based on intimate interpersonal encounters and genuine openness.

Working as an anthropology professor I am not only a researcher, an author of scientific papers and a lecturer. I also eagerly participate in non-academic projects cooperating with the media, local institutions and communities. Through these various activities I search for spaces where it is possible to juxtapose phenomena and voices that function in various registers on a daily basis.

Anna Niedźwiedź

Main research interests

Main research interests

Anthropology of religion

Visual anthropology and anthropology of senses

Anthropology of space and movement 

Critical heritage studies

Ethnography as a dialogue 


Geographic expertise

Poland (in the context of other East Central and Eastern European countries), West Africa (with a special focus on Ghana), selected places in Western Europe and North America. 


Current research projects

Currently I am involved in two projects. The first one focusses on the position and positioning of African Christian women in the context of the Roman Catholic church in Ghana. This research is done within a framework of the grant “Between Marginalisation and Empowerment: Women in African Catholicism (the case of Ghana)” (WOMAC) rewarded by the National Science Centre (2019-2023). I combine ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Ghana with broader studies on African feminism, female theologians, discourses on women and religions in other parts of Africa, African diasporas and within pan-Africanists contexts.

Parallelly, I have been continuing the research launched in 2016 as a part of the international project dedicated to heritagization of religion in contemporary Europe (see the HERA founded HERILIGION project “The heritagization of religion and the sacralization of heritage in contemporary Europe” 2016-2020) Living and working in Kraków, I analyse the transformations of local urban spaces and different ways of shaping and experiencing them. I am particularly interested in the notions and discourses on ‘religious heritage’. I also research institutional and bottom-up sacralisation of spaces recognized as related with - or even embodying - what individuals and groups recognize as heritage.


Ethnographic field work (selection)

2021: Position and positioning of Catholic women in Ghana 

2016-20: Pasts, heritages, identities within the cityscape of Kraków (within the HERILIGION project)

2016: World Youth Day in Kraków (in collaboration with the Mobile Ethnographic Group)

2016: Religions and migrants in a global city, London (as a part of the fieldwork students seminar)

2009-14: Lived Catholicism in Ghana (National Science Centre research grant)

2013-14: New Catholic shrines in Poland (Licheń, Divine Mercy Shrine, John Paul II Centre)

2009-10, 2018: Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków and its audiences (partially in collaboration with the students fieldwork seminar and Mobile Ethnographic Group)

2007-8: Podgórze district in Kraków – new faces of the old spaces 

1999-2002: Cult of the image of Our Lady of Częstochowa in Poland (National Research Council grant)


At the Jagiellonian University I teach regular courses on anthropology of religion and on selected topics related to contemporary Africa. In the past I also taught on visual anthropology, urban anthropology and ethnology of Poland. Additionally, I offer ethnographic courses dedicated to practical and ethical methodological issues. When teaching in Poland I employ my experiences from American universities where I worked as a visiting professor: in 2006-2007 as the Kosciuszko Foundation Visiting Professor at SUNY Buffalo, and in 2011-2012 as the Skalny Center Visiting Professor at the University of Rochester. I collaborate with the Doctoral School in the Humanities, Jagiellonian University in Kraków, teaching an anthropological research seminar in English. I also supervise MA and PhD thesis, e.g. dedicated to critical heritage studies; research on memories on the past Jewish citizens of Kraków; contemporary cults of Christian saints (Saint Rita, Saint Charbel); research on sensual anthropology, body and gender identities; urban anthropology.

Selected publications


2020 Maps of the city: Heritages and the sacred within Kraków’s cityscape. A. Niedźwiedź, K. Kajder (eds.): Libron. Open access: Info:

2015 Religia przeżywana. Katolicyzm i jego konteksty we współczesnej Ghanie, Kraków: Libron. Open access:

2010 The Image and the Figure: Our Lady of Częstochowa in Polish Culture and Popular Religion. Kraków: Jagiellonian University Press. Book on

2005 Obraz i postać. Znaczenia wizerunku Matki Boskiej Częstochowskiej. Kraków: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego.


Papers and chapters (selection)

2021 (Forthcoming) Niedźwiedź, Anna ‘Urban Anthropology – East Central Europe.’ In: The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. Wiley-Blackwell.

2021 (Forthcoming) Niedźwiedź, Anna, Challenging or confirming the national sacred? Managing the power place at Wawel Hill in Kraków. In: O. Salemink, I. Stengs & E. van den Hemel (Eds.), Management of religion, sacralisation of heritage. Berghahn Books.

2020 Niedźwiedź Anna, Baraniecka-Olszewska Kamila, ‘Religious heritages as spatial phenomena: Constructions, experiences, and selections’. Anthropological Notebooks, Vol 26, Issue 3, pp. 1-16

2019 Baraniecka-Olszewska, Kamila, Niedźwiedź, Anna, ‘The politics of heritages and Kraków's cityscape: Introduction to the special section’, Etnografia Polska, Vol. 63,  No. 1-2, s. 133-136.

2019 Niedźwiedź Anna, ‘Global Catholicism, urban heritage, national politics: The 2016 World Youth Day in Kraków’, Etnografia Polska, Vol. 63,  No. 1-2, s. 185-204.

2018 Niedźwiedź, Anna ‘Disputed spiritualities, contested heritages: Wawel Hill and its sacred aura,’ Material Religion: The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief, 14: 2, pp. 278-281.

2017 Niedźwiedź, Anna ‘Multivocality of space and creation of heritages: New shrines in old city.’ Anthropological Notebooks: special issue on Landscape, Memory and Heritage.

2017 Framing the Pope Within the Urban Space: John Paul II and the Cityscape of Kraków. [In:] Hägner, Victoria and Margry, Peter Jan (eds.), Spiritualizing the City: Agency and Resilience of the Urban and Urbanesque Habitat, Abingdon, New York: Routledge, pp. 81-101.

2017 ‘Migocząca mapa - w stronę antropologii pielgrzymowania.’ [A Glimmering Map: Towards the Anthropology of Pilgrimage], Konteksty. Polska Sztuka Ludowa, LXXI, nr 1-2 (316-317), pp. 191-203.

2016 ‘От «народной религиозности» к «проживаемой религии»: дискуссия в польской антропологии религии.’ [‘From "folk religiosity" to "lived religion": terminological debate within the Polish anthropology of religion’], ГОСУДАРСТВО РЕЛИГИЯ ЦЕРКОВЬ/State Religion Church, 34 (3), pp. 172-188.

2016 ‘Skrzyżowane itineraria. Antropolodzy i pielgrzymi.’ [‘Cross-Cutting Itineraries: Anthropologists and Pilgrims’], Prace Etnograficzne, 44 (3), pp. 243-260.

2015 Old and New Paths of Polish Pilgrimages. [In:] Eade, John and Albera, Dionigi (eds.), International Perspectives on Pilgrimage Studies: Itineraries, Gaps and Obstacles in Pilgrimage Studies. London, New York: Routledge [Routledge Studies in Religion, Travel and Tourism Series], pp. 69-94.

2014 Competing Sacred Places: Making and Remaking of National Shrines in Contemporary Poland. [In:] Eade, John and Katić, Mario (eds.), Pilgrimage, Politics and Place-Making in Eastern Europe: Crossing the Borders. Farnham, Berlington: Ashgate, pp. 79-102. Book description Introduction

2014 Od religijności ludowej do religii przeżywanej. [W:] Fatyga, Barbara; Michalski, Ryszard (red.), Kultura ludowa: teorie, praktyki, polityki. ISNS Warszawa, s. 327-338. Książka on-line

2014 Obrazki z pogrzebu. Wizualność i żałoba we współczesnej Ghanie. [Pictures at a Funeral: Visuality and Mourning in Contemporary Ghana], Prace Etnograficzne, 42 (4), pp. 349-362. 

2014 Święto Jamów we współczesnej Ghanie. Tradycja ponad podziałami religijnymi. [The Yam Festival in Contemporary Ghana: Tradition Beyond Religious Boundaries], Studia Religiologica, 47 (3), pp. 237-252. 

2013 S. Ann Dunham: niezwykła i samotna. Biografia matki Baracka Obamy. [S. Ann Dunham: Singular and Alone. A Biography of Barack Obama’s Mother.]  Zarządzanie w Kulturze, 14 (3), pp. 217-225.

2012 Being Christian in Africa: identities lived within a Catholic community in central Ghana. [W:] Fiala V. (ed.), Multiple Identities in Post-Colonial Africa. Publishing House Moneta-FM: Hradec Kralove, s. 151-161.

2012 Wizualność etnograficzna na podstawie materiałów z archiwum domowego profesora Romana Reinfussa. [Ethnographic Visuality in Materials from Professor Roman Reinfuss’s Private Archive.] Prace Etnograficzne, 40, pp. 1-10.

2010 Mère et reine: la Vierge de Częstochowa. Ethnologie française, 40 (2) (Avril), pp. 315-326.

2009 Mythical Vision of the City: Kraków as the ‘Pope's City'. "Anthropology of East Europe Review" 27 (2): Fall, s. 208-226. Article on-line

2009 with Cathelijne de Busser: Mary in Poland: A Polish Master Symbol. [W:] Hermkens A-K., Jansen W. and Notermans C. (eds.),  Moved by Mary. The Power of Pilgrimage in the Modern World (Ashgate: Farnham, Berlington), s. 87-100.

2006 Kraków – "miasto papieskie". Analiza symboliki i mitologii przestrzeni miejskiej. [Kraków "the Pope’s City". Symbolism and Mythology of the Urban Space] Journal of Urban Ethnology, 8, pp. 25-45.

2000 O możliwości istnienia wizerunku świętego. Chrześcijańskie spory wokół kultu obrazów. [About the Possibility of Existence of Holy Image: Christian Disputes on Cult of Images.] Forum Europejskie, wiosna, pp. 59-76.