Jan De Graaf was born in the Netherlands in 1986. He studied history at the University of Utrecht and completed his PhD degree at the University of Portsmouth (UK) in 2015. As postdoctoral fellow at the Research Foundation Flanders between 2015 and 2019, he conducted a comparative study at the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) into wildcat strikes as a pan-European phenomenon between 1945 and 1953. He was awarded a number of grants, including by the Society for the Study of French History, the German Historical Institute Warsaw, and Deutsches Bergbau-Museum Bochum.
With funds provided through the Sofja Kovalevskaja Award, De Graaf is establishing a research group at the RUB Social Movements Institute. It explores the era following the Depression and the Second World War, which appears to have been governed by the singular determination to establish equal societies.