1 February 2022. Prof. Insa Koch completed her Bachelor's degree in Anthropology and Law at the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2008. The degree constitutes a qualifying degree for legal practice in England and Wales. She then completed her PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Oxford in 2013. The title of her doctoral thesis is “Personalising the State: Law, Social Welfare and Politics on an English Council Estate”. During her doctoral studies, she worked as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Bachelor of Law course at Queen Mary University in London and later as a Graduate Teaching Fellow at the University of Oxford in the Economic Anthropology programme. From 2012 to 2014, she was a Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the LSE. In 2014, she was appointed Assistant Professor with a tenure at the LSE and became the Academic Director of the Anthropology and Law programme. In 2016, she completed a further education programme in higher education training at the LSE. In 2018, she was promoted to Associate Professor of Law and Anthropology.
Research: democratic crises, populist movements, social inequalities, post-colonialism
Prof. Insa Koch’s research focuses on democratic crises and populist movements, social inequalities, the welfare state and the criminal justice system. As a renowned anthropologist specialising in British cultures (with a focus on the cultural legacies of the Empire, social class, and the history of the post-war British state) she focuses on comparative and post-colonial approaches. Her research projects are interdisciplinary and integrate approaches from anthropology, social theory, and law. Her research methods are deeply ethnographic, and she has always combined academic research with advocacy work, activism and grassroots engagement.
Her latest research project is on modern slavery and its moral-legal implications in relation to the illegal economy. Prof. Koch has also been researching social polarisation in the UK in relation to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on vulnerable groups, contributing with colleagues at the LSE to the first ever in-depth ethnographic study during the first lockdown. This research directly influenced government policy on responses to the pandemic. In 2020, her monograph “Personalizing the State: An Anthropology of Law, Politics and Welfare in Austerity Britain”, published by The Oxford University Press, was awarded the Hart Book Prize of the Socio-Legal Studies Association and was short-listed for the Hart-SLSA Book prize. Prof. Koch is currently working on her second monograph on the subject of modern slavery, racial violence, and the legacies of the British Empire.
Prof. Insa Koch has extensive and very highly praised teaching experience, especially in running multidisciplinary study programmes. She has been nominated by her students for Teaching Awards almost every year, and in 2017 she was awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award by the LSE for her continious commitment. Her teaching is research-led, focuses on current societal issues and always strives to combine theory with practice by innovating teaching techniques.
As an academic who is deeply committed to making her research accessible to broader audiences outside of the ‘ivory tower’ of academia, Prof. Insa Koch continuously works with civic society and other actors. In her ethnographic research, she collaborates closely with activists and civil rights organisations. She has also presented her research to the British government and civil society bodies, including the History of Parliament Trust, the Home Office, the Cabinet Office and Parliament. A recent co-authored report on COVID-19 deaths commissioned by the British Cabinet Office directly influenced government policy on hospital admissions, attracting significant media attention. Prof. Koch regularly feature in the British media, including on social media and print media.