UCL Anthropology


Kelsey Weber

Kelsey Weber

UCL Email: kelsey.weber.18@ucl.ac.uk
Year of start: 2018
Supervisors: Dr Ruth Mandel and Dr Michał Murawski
Subject: Social and Cultural Anthropology
Fieldsite: Białystok, Poland

PhD Research

Practices of Belonging: Identity Among Polish Tatar Women

The 2015 election of the nationalist Prawo i Sprawiedliwość party in Poland has been accompanied by an increase in rhetoric explicitly tying Polish identity to the expression of a Catholic faith, positioning the small Polish Muslim community in a liminal space between societal inclusion and exclusion. The troubling rise of Islamophobic hate speech and crimes demonstrate the ways that Polish identity is increasingly positioned as an exclusive value to be protected.

Through twelve months of ethnographic research in Bialystok Poland, my research attempts to understand concepts of belonging among Polish Muslim communities through participation in community events, focusing on how the body moves through social spaces. I aim to identify how Polish Tatars construct community boundaries in relation to other Muslim communities and the wider Polish nation through narratives of inclusion and exclusion. My thesis investigates how ideas of identity and belonging are differentially constructed among Tatar women, non-Tatar Muslim women, and non-Muslim Polish women to understand how belonging is embodied at the nexus of various positionalities. My research aims to add to the work on identity formation among minority communities within the context of the current rise of the far right in Poland, bringing further understanding to a volatile political situation through ethnography of an understudied community.

Research interests

  • Central and Eastern Europe, particularly Poland
  • (Post) Socialist Studies
  • Anthropology of Islam
  • Gender and Women’s Studies
  • Performance and Performativity
  • Nationalism
  • The Body

Education History

  • Master of Science from University of Oxford, 2013
  • Bachelor of Science from University of California, Berkeley 2011

Honours, Awards & Funding

  • Graduated UC Berkeley Magna Cum Laude- Granted to the top 15% of graduating class
  • Member of Dean’s List at Berkeley- Granted to the top 4% of students
  • Member of Golden Key International Honour Society- Granted to the top 15% of students at American universities
  • NSCS Scholar- Granted to the top 20% of students at American universities
  • Member of Phi Beta Kappa- Granted to a student who demonstrates excellence in the liberal arts in the top 10% of the graduating class