Portrait of Professor Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

Professor Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

Professor of Social Anthropology
Director of Graduate Studies
Director, Centre for Ethnographic Research

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. His experimentation with graphic anthropology has led him to the theoretical reconsideration of the role of the author in the production of ethnography. In his recent (2016) monograph, Exoticisation Undressed, Dimitrios problematises the singularity of anthropological narration, re-representing himself –for the first time, and in graphic form – as a younger and older author who debate the production of ethnography (see also, graphic review at the JRAI). This experimentation has paved the way for exploring new avenues of ethnographic reflexivity. It has also made available a new representational angle for the re-evaluation of anthropology as a political project.

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 currently the PI of an ESRC project that investigates the consequences of austerity in Greece and Portugal, the outcomes of which call attention to the precarious position and impoverishment of the lower middle classes.

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

  • SE301: Social Anthropology
  • SE573: Ethnicity and Nationalism
  • SE589: Advanced Social Anthropology II

Postgraduate

Professor Theodossopoulos convenes the postgraduate writing-up seminar.

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, stereotypes and constructions of Otherness
  • Environmental anthropology, attitudes to animals and environmental politics.

Current PhD students

  • Kahir Abdhul: Indigenous tourism and ethnic commoditisation in Madagascar
  • Mick Bonnington: National parks and nationalism in Catalonia
  • Bee Farrell: Human-Information technology symbiosis and culinary culture
  • Lisa Rodan: Crisis, austerity and the lives of Portuguese migrants in London
  • Mayra Sumter: Medical pluralism and Reproductive Healthcare in Suriname
  • Frederika Treeby: Isolation, social networks and belonging among ex-detainees of UK Migrant Removal Centres: a phenomenological approach
  • Boana Visser: Poverty and indigenous identity among Ngobe workers in Bocas del Toro, Panama
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