Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Jan Burek

Jan is a social and cultural historian of state socialism. He is a SAVA Research Fellow at PACT, UCL Institute of Advanced Studies.

Jan is a Research and Teaching Fellow at the Faculty of History of the University of Warsaw. His research explores the forms of individual and group agency state socialist dictatorships allowed for and, in some cases, facilitated. His research methods draw heavily on Italian microhistory and the Alltagsgeschichte. Hence, he focuses on the microscale analysis of the everyday experiences of life and work.

Jan received his BA and MA in History from the University of Warsaw. In November 2021, he defended his PhD dissertation in History and Civilization at the European University Institute in Florence. In his dissertation, he examined the complexities of relationships between the workers, the communist party, and the state administration and factory management in a Polish industrial town in the 1940s and 1950s. The dissertation underscored how workers used the often-overlooked ideological and organizational divisions within the communist party to further their personal and group agendas.

As a SAVA Research Fellow at the IAS, Jan studies an early 1960s international project of the Druzhba (Przyjaźń) oil pipeline from a local perspective of Płock, a town in Central Poland. The construction of an enormous petrochemical plant in Płock led to the rapid development of this provincial town into a flourishing industrial centre. At the same time, it also heavily transformed the landscape, displaced Płock residents, polluted air and water, altered rainfall patterns, and significantly increased the local average annual temperature. Jan is primarily interested in finding out how the inhabitants of Płock reacted to the construction of the petrochemical plant and how they dealt with the impact the plant exerted on the environment and their lives in the context of emerging environmental awareness.