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Professor Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

Professor of Social Anthropology,
Director of Centre for Ethnographic Research
Telephone
+44 (0)1227 823360
Professor Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

About

Professor Dimitrios Theodossopoulos is a social anthropologist interested in anti-austerity politics, resistance, populism, authenticity, indigenous representation, and exoticism. His engagement with these topics brings forward invisible local perspectives, is ethnographically inspired and attempts to reconfigure social theory from the grassroots.

Dimitrios is also interested in creative ethnographic mediums, such as ‘graphic ethnography’, a new visual subfield that relies on sketches, drawings, photography and cartoons – not merely to illustrate – but, more importantly, to generate social analysis. He is leading collaborative initiatives that aim to establish graphic anthropology as a multimodal representational lens that forces textuality and images to engage in a productive dialectic. See Graphic Anthropology on the Rise.

His experimentation with graphic anthropology has led Dimitrios to a reconsideration of ethnographic reflexivity beyond its redemptive or self-centred referents—examples of which are visible in Exoticisation Undressed. Dimitrios argues that an honest self-reflexive dialectic can provide new and empowering representational angles for the re-evaluation of anthropology as a political project. See Solidarity dilemmas in times of austerity.

Research interests

Austerity, populism, non-hegemonic politics

A uniting thread in Professor Dimitrios Theodossopoulos’s published work is a commitment to making visible the rationality and nuanced critical views of local social actors, particularly in non-hegemonic politics. He has engaged anthropologically with political processes that range from environmental issues to local discontent with globalisation, from ethnic stereotyping and nationalism to the anthropological theory of resistance, and, more recently, anti-austerity discourse and populism.

Dimitrios is also interested in the relevance of the work of Raymond Williams and Stuart Hall for contemporary anthropological theory. From the latter he learnt to appreciate the value of conjunctural analysis, which provides scope to expand anthropology’s traditional sensitivity to contextual considerations, but with added attention to the articulation of power with intersectional parameters, such as class, but also generation (see, Thinking about generations, conjuncturally, The Sociological Review).

Indigenous and ethnographic representation, ethnographic nostalgia

Dimitrios is also concerned with cultural representation, in particular among indigenous groups, such as the Emberá in Panama. He works with an Emberá community that receives visitors on a regular basis and specialises in indigenous tourism. Its inhabitants have developed a remarkable representational self-awareness, claiming their right to be both indigenous and modern. He explores the issue of indigenous modernities in his recent (2016) monograph Exoticisation Undressed, an experimental ethnography that reveals the many layers through which our understandings of indigenous cultures are filtered and the inherent power to distort understanding.

 Dimitrios is also working towards developing a general theory for understanding exoticisation and self-exoticisation, and their role for shaping local and global identities. See in particular a recent monograph, Against Exoticism, which he edited with Bruce Kapferer.

His work on exoticism has led him to critique a particular nostalgic approach in anthropological writing: the tendency to pursue nostalgic connections between a present social reality and what other authors – or even we ourselves – have said about a particular society before. Dimitrios has introduced the analytic concept ‘ethnographic nostalgia’ to capture the representational and political challenges structured by this type of nostalgic predilection.

Teaching

 Undergraduate

  • ANTS3010: Introduction to Social Anthropology
  • ANT5730: Ethnicity and Nationalism

Postgraduate

  • SACO8014: Anthropology of Humanitarian and Environmental Crises
  • SACO8210: Advanced Topics in Anthropology  
  • SACO9910: Ethnicity and Nationalism

Supervision

In the last 24 years, Professor Theodossopoulos has conducted anthropological fieldwork in urban, rural and rainforest contexts in Greece and Panama. He supervises PhD dissertations on the following topics:

  • The social consequences of the financial crisis; anti-austerity discourse
  • Local discontent with politics, populism, protest and political activism
  • The anthropology of Panama; Emberá culture and ethnography
  • Indigenous tourism, commodification, and cultural authenticity
  • Nationalism, race, ethnic stereotypes and constructions of Otherness
  • Environmental anthropology, attitudes to animals and environmental politics

Current PhD students

  • Bee Farrell: Human-Information technology symbiosis and culinary culture
  • Kahir Abdhul: Indigenous tourism and ethnic commoditisation in Madagascar
  • Lily Gibbs: Identity among the Turkish Cypriot community in the UK
  • Marcello Fantoni: Cosack identity and conflict in Russia and Ukraine
  • Marko Barisic: Religion and personhood in Bosnia
  • Mayra Sumter: Medical pluralism and Reproductive Healthcare in Suriname  
  • Mick Bonnington: Urban protest during the referendum in Catalonia
  • Rachael Heller: The legal framework of refugee volunteerism in the UK
  • Tom Bell: Environmental radicalism in US

Past PhD students

PhD students who have received their doctorate under Dimitrios' supervision:

  • Dr Lisa Rodan – (completed 2021) Crisis, austerity and the lives of Portuguese migrants in London
  • Dr Boana Visser – (completed 2020) Poverty and indigenous identity among Ngobe workers in Bocas del Toro, Panama.
  • Dr Ilektra Kyriazidou – (completed 2019) Solidarity, impoverishment, and the consequences of austerity in Thessalonica.
  • Dr Nicoletta Paphitou – (completer 2015) Representations of Aphrodite in the margins of Europe: Mapping the ancient goddess on the cultural map of Cyprus.
  • Dr Konstantinos Ardavanis – (completed 2013) ‘Navigating a hyphenated Identity: an ethnography of the Greek-American community in New York City.’
  • Dr Michael Pearson - (completed 2013) ‘The Discordant Accord: Romania and the European Union.’
  • Dr Mackenzie Paige Belt – (completed 2012) ‘Hosts and Domestic Workers: From Maintaining Social Distance to Creating Cultural Intimacy between Sri Lankan Migrants and Greek-Cypriots in Nicosia, Cyprus.’
  • Dr Alexis Karkotis – (completed 2012) “‘Now we live together’: The poetics of everyday life in a spatially concentrated Ngöbe community in Panama.”
  • Dr Mark Burchell (completed 2011) ‘Military enculturation: an anthropological exploration of discipline and ritual practices among the Royal Marines.’
  • Dr Nikitas Palantzas (completed 2011) ‘Perplexed by the European Union: Examining Euro-sceptic manifestations towards Turkey’s accession to the European Union among citizens of Istanbul.’
  • Dr Sandra Yolanda López-Rocha (completed 2009). ‘Identity, adaptation and community making among the Chilean diaspora in England.’
  • Dr Costas Constantinou (completed 2009) ‘Transplanted selves: kidney transplantation in Cyprus and the reconstruction of normality.’
  • Dr Steve Adam (completed 2007) ‘Culture heritage preservation among the Tigua Pueblo of El Paso, Texas.’
  • Dr Lina Sistani (completed 2005) ‘Native Dilemmas: Histories, Memories and Identities in “Macedonia.”’
  • Dr Paul Cooper (completed 2002) ‘Live and learn: the educational and social experience of adult, returning learners.’
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