Jon Schubert

Jon Schubert is a political and economic anthropologist working on Political culture and citizenship, socio-economic inequality and class identities, neo-liberalism and authoritarian statecraft, memory and affect, and technocratisation, mainly in Lusophone Africa. He holds a PhD from the University of Edinburgh (2014) and an MA from the University of Basel (2007). He has previously worked in foreign affairs (2008-2009) and commercial risk analysis (2010-2015), and taught political anthropology and African politics at undergraduate and graduate level.

Current Research Project

Technocrats at the Hydrocarbons Frontier: Changing Stateness in Mozambique

Jon Schubert’s research project, Technocrats at the Hydrocarbons Frontier: Changing Stateness in Mozambique (as part of the DFG SPP1448) looks at how state functionaries remake and rethink the role of the state at the interface of national politics, technocratic expertise, and globalised capital. Connected side projects include research on the production of evidence in commercial risk forecasting, the contestation of illiberal outcomes of global capital through the idioms of economic liberalism in Africa, and the role of political aspirations and formal/state institutions in class formation. His previous research, based on one year of doctoral fieldwork in Angola’s capital, Luanda, was an ethnographic exploration of contemporary neo-authoritarianism through the emic notion of the ‘system’, with his forthcoming (2017) book, Working the System: A Political Ethnography of the ‘New Angola’, currently undergoing final revisions.

Research Interests

  • » Political culture
  • » Hegemony
  • » Memory and affect
  • » Anthropology of the state
  • » Technocratisation
  • » Post-conflict
  • » Neo-Authoritarianism
  • » Urban anthropology
  • » Political violence and security

Field Research

March 2016 – June 2016 Ethnographic field research (Maputo, Mozambique)
November 2014 Short-term exploratory fieldwork (Libreville, Port-Gentil, Gabon)
October 2010– October 2011 Ethnographic field research (Luanda, Angola)
September 2009 Mixed-methods fieldwork (4 provinces, Angola)
April 2007 Oral history/mixed methods fieldwork (Luanda + 5 provinces, Angola)


April 2014

PhD, African Studies (University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom)

PhD studies, Centre of African Studies (University of Edinburgh)
2009-2010 PhD studies (1st year), Dept. of Anthropology (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK)
December 2007

MA African Studies (University of Basel, Switzerland)

MA studies, Centre of African Studies Basel (Univ. of Basel, Switzerland)

Undergraduate (lic. phil. I) studies, Sociology and Contemporary History (University of Basel, Switzerland)

Teaching & Languages

Winter Semester 2015/16

MA Seminar: Violence, Conflict, and State-Building in Africa, African Studies/Global and European Studies
(University of Leipzig, Germany)
Winter Semester 2014/15

BA Seminar: Introduction to political anthropology (Einführung in die politische Ethnologie), Seminar für Ethnologie
(Martin Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Halle/Saale, Germany)
Winter Semesters 2011/12, 2012/13

Tutor (TA), Africa in world politics, Honours Course, School of Social and Political Science
(University of Edinburgh, UK)


German (mother tongue)
French (mother tongue)
English (professional fluency)
Portuguese (professional fluency)

Employment & Professional Memberships

2015 - 2017 Research Fellow, “Changing Stateness in Africa”, SPP1448
(Centre for Area Studies, University of Leipzig, Germany)
2010 - 2015 Senior Africa Analyst, Lusophone and Central Africa
(IHS Country Risk, London, UK)
2008 - 2009 Programme assistant, peace policy section
(Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Berne, Switzerland)


Professional Memberships
Since 2015 American Anthropological Association (AAA)
Since 2014 European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA)
Since 2011 African Studies Association UK (ASA UK)
Since 2008 Swiss Society of African Studies (SGAS/SSEA)

Awards & Fellowships

2016 SPP 1448 publications award (for 2010 JSAS article) (University of Leipzig, Germany)



2010–2013 Studentship by the School of Social and Political Sciences, (University of Edinburgh)
2010–2012 Fieldwork Grant by Janggen-Pöhn-Stiftung
(St. Gallen, Switzerland)
2010–2011 Bolsa Rui Tavares, fieldwork grant
(Lisbon, Portugal)
2009–2012 Doctoral Grant by the Theodor Engelmann-Stiftung
(Basel, Switzerland)
2009–2011 Doctoral Start-up Grant by the Heringa Stichting
(Utrecht, Netherlands)
2007 Various small grants for MA field research and writing up



Conferences & Workshops

24 Feb 2016

Centre of African Studies Seminar
(University of Edinburgh)

Presented paper:
"Interrogating the ‘New African Middle Class’ — urbanity and aspiration in post-war Angola."
26 Jan 2016

African History & Politics Seminar
(Oxford University)

Presented paper:
"Angolanidade: Race and Class in Postwar Luanda"
18–22 Nov 2015

AAA Annual Conference
(Denver CO)

Presented paper:
"Numbers by divination: the production of evidence in commercial risk forecasting"

16 Nov 2015

Invited speaker at the Roundtable on ‘Nostalgias in Angola after the War’
(Stanford University Humanities Center)

Presented paper:
"Urban Upgrading and Spatial Nostalgia: Exploring Affective Spaces in Post-War Luanda"

8–10 Jul 2015

ECAS 2015
(Sorbonne-Panthéon, Paris)

Presented paper:
"The affects of place: urban transformation, memories and loss in contemporary Luanda"

26 Jun 2015

Workshop ‘Elections in Central and Southern Africa, Dynamics of Exclusion and Participation’
(SOAS, Univ. of London)

Presented paper:
"Against the System, within the System’ — Anti-Government Youth Protests Around Angola’s 2012 Elections"

19–22 Jun 2015

ASA14 Decennial: Anthropology and Enlightenment
(University of Edinburgh)

Presented paper:
"Political subjectivities in resource-rich, neo-authoritarian countries (homonymous panel convened with Tristam Barrett"

4–10 Oct 2014

DFG-funded Workshop “Political Culture in Africa – the Narrative Foundations of Authority and Leadership”
(Point Sud, Bamako)

Invited discussant; paper given
"Political culture in resource rich countries: the case of Angola"

31 Jul–3 Aug 2014

EASA14: Collaboration, Intimacy & Revolution
(Estonian Institute of Humanities, Tallinn)

Presented paper:
"Situative and imaginary kinship as vernacular critique of, and 'user manual' for, power relations in post-war Angola"

6–8 Sept 2012

ASA UK Conference
(Univ. of Leeds, UK)

Presented papers:
"A Revolution Betrayed. Survivors of the 27 de Maio 1977 and competing claims of political legitimacy in contemporary Angola"
"Complicity and the ‘Culture of Immediatism’: negotiating political legitimacy and the limits of hegemonic domination in Angola."




  Schubert, Jon (forthcoming). Working the System. A Political Ethnography of the New Angola. Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press 2017 (Autumn).
Journal Articles
  Schubert, Jon. “‘A Culture of Immediatism’: Co-Optation and Complicity in Post-War Angola.ETHNOS 0.0 (2016, online pre-publication).
  Schubert, Jon. “2002, Year Zero: History as Anti-Politics in the New Angola.Journal of Southern African Studies, 41.4 (2015): 835–852.
  Schubert, Jon. “A partidarização: ‘democratização’ e consolidação do poder político em Angola.Relações Internacionais, 37 (2013): 79–98 (updated Portuguese version of 2010 JSAS article).
  Schubert, Jon. “‘Democratisation’ and the Consolidation of Political Authority in Post-War Angola.Journal of Southern African Studies, 36.3 (2010): 657-672.
Book Chapters:
  Schubert, Jon (forthcoming). “Emerging middle-class political subjectivities in post-war Angola”. In The Rise of Africa's Middle Class, Melber H. (ed.), (London, New York: Zed Books, 2016).
  Schubert, Jon. “Angola”. In Africa Yearbook, Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara in 2014, vol. 11, S. Elischer, R. Hofmeier, A. Mehler, H. Melber (eds.), (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2015).
  Schubert, Jon. “Angola”. In Africa Yearbook. Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara in 2013, 10, A. Mehler, H. Melber, K. van Walraven (eds.) (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2014).
Book Reviews:
  Schubert, Jon. “Violence and the Everyday in Angola’s Civil War”. In Journal of Southern African Studies, 42.4 (2016): 790–92.
  Schubert, Jon. Review of A Short History of Modern Angola, by David Birmingham (London: Hurst 2015). In Africa Spectrum 51.1 (2016/forthcoming).
  Schubert, Jon. Review of The Normality of Civil War. Armed Groups and Everyday Life in Angola, by Teresa Koloma Beck (Frankfurt, New York: Campus 2013). In Journal of Southern African Studies (2016/forthcoming).
  Schubert, Jon. Review of Magnificent and Beggar Land: Angola Since the Civil War by Ricardo Soares de Oliveira (London: Hurst 2015). In Africa Spectrum, 50.3 (2015).
  Schubert, Jon. Review of Sure Road? Nationalisms in Angola, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique, by Eric Morier-Genoud, ed. (Leiden, Boston: Brill 2012). In Journal of Modern African Studies, 51.3 (2013).
  Schubert, Jon. Review of China & Angola. A Marriage of Convenience?, by Marcus Power & Ana-Cristina Alves, eds. (Cape Town, Dakar, Nairobi, Oxford: Pambazuka Press 2012). In Africa Spectrum, 48.2 (2013).
  Schubert, Jon. Verdades incómodas da África emergente, review of Diamantes de Sangue. Corrupção e Tortura em Angola, by Rafael Marques (Lisboa: Tinta-de-China 2011). In Relações Internacionais, 34, 119-122.