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Dr Diána Vonnák

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Member of the Department of Anthropology  


Diána received an MA in Socio-Cultural Anthropology at Durham in 2013, and her PhD in 2020. 

She worked at the Durham Energy Institute as a research intern, then as a junior researcher at the Max Planck Institue for Social Anthropology in Germany. She has been involved in applied ethnographic research at the Metropolitan Research Institute in Budapest, Hungary, working on projects related to urban development and heritage. Since 2020 she is an associate lecturer at University College London.

PhD project

Between 2015-2017 Diána spent 18 months in Ukraine, mostly in Lviv, focusing on conflicts around heritage sites in the city. Through these contested spaces, she looked at the changing regimes of urban planning and conservation in Ukraine, and consequent crises of legitimacy of professional knowledge. Working with architects, civil servants, museum and heritage professionals, and NGO staff, she traced how the fall of the USSR, the subsequent geopolitical limbo, and the ongoing war undergird the norm that guide the work of these professionals. Following them through conflicts, she focuses on the interactions between levels of governance, and the interplay between the public, private and the not-for-profit sectors.

Research interests

  • The anthropology of the state
  • Heritage and conservation
  • Knowledge and expertise
  • Urban governance
  • Cultural politics