Portrait of Professor Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

Professor Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

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


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.



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


Professor Theodossopoulos convenes the postgraduate writing-up seminar.


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.  
  • Ilektra Kyriazidou: Solidarity, impoverishment, and the consequences of austerity in Thessaloniki.
  • Lisa Rodan: Crisis, austerity and the lives of Portuguese migrants in London.
  • 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.


Showing 50 of 59 total publications in the Kent Academic Repository. View all publications.


  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2016). Philanthropy or solidarity? Ethical dilemmas about humanitarianism in crisis afflicted Greece. Social Anthropology (Journal of the European Association of Social Anthropologists) [Online] 24:167-184. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1469-8676.12304.
    That philanthropy perpetuates the conditions that cause inequality is an old argument shared by thinkers such as Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde and Slavoj Zizek. I recorded the same argument in conversations regarding a growing humanitarian concern in austerity-ridden Greece. At the local level a number of solidarity initiatives provide the most impoverished families with humanitarian help. Some citizens participate in such initiatives wholeheartedly, while some other citizens criticize solidarity movements drawing primarily from Marxist-inspired arguments, such as, for example, that humanitarianism rationalises state inaction. The local narratives presented in this article bring forward two parallel possibilities engendered by the humanitarian face of social solidarity: first, its empowering potential (where solidarity initiatives enhance local social awareness), and second, the de-politicisation of the crisis and the experience of suffering (a liability that stems from the effectiveness of humanitarianism in ameliorating only temporarily the superficial consequences of the crisis). These two overlapping possibilities can help us problematise the contextual specificity and strategic employment of humanitarian solidarity in times of austerity.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2014). The Ambivalence of Anti-Austerity Indignation in Greece: Resistance, Hegemony and Complicity. History and Anthropology [Online] 25:488-506. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02757206.2014.917086.
    This article engages with a contradiction that can help us appreciate the ambiguity and complexity of indirect resistance as this is articulated in informal everyday contexts: many citizens in Greece boldly challenge the antisocial austerity measures that have plagued their lives, highlighting how these represent a hegemonic imposition led by foreign centres of economic power. Their anti-hegemonic critique, however, often recycles a dislike for foreigners and xenophobia, echoing more pervasive hegemonic narratives (for example, a crypto-colonial identification of Greece with the West). To deal with this contradiction, I stress the need to (1) de-pathologize local indignant discourse (avoiding the orientalization of anti-austerity discourse as emotional or inconsequential) and (2) acknowledge that indirect resistance may represent an astute critique of visible inequalities, but is not isolated from overarching hegemonic ideological influences that shape local interpretations of historical/economic causality.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2014). On De-Pathologizing Resistance. History and Anthropology [Online] 25:415-430. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02757206.2014.933101.
    This introductory essay draws attention to two processes, the pathologization and exoticization of resistance. Working independently or in parallel, these two processes silence resistance by depoliticizing it as illogical or idealizing it in out-worldly terms. In both cases, resistance is caricatured as abnormal or exotic and distanced from current political priorities. I argue that analytical de-pathologization and de-exoticization of resistance can (a) provide valuable insights on the silencing of resistance and (b) help us understand the relationship between hegemony and resistance in terms that stretch beyond the moderately pathologizing view of political inaction as apathy or “false consciousness”. In my analysis, I also engage with James Scott's seminal view of resistance, which, despite its de-pathologizing orientation, fails to capture the dialectical relationship of resistance and hegemony. I suggest that attention to the pathologizing and exoticizing workings of power may reveal the complexity and compromising ambivalence of resistance and contribute to the broader field of resistance studies, conceived as renewed interest in insurrectionary movements, rebellion, and protest.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2013). Supporting a party that you don't entirely support. Suomen Antropologi [Online] 38:109-111. Available at: http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-84878935876&partnerID=40&md5=6e6f96ecdddcca9f7269a8498ed73fad.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2013). Emberá indigenous tourism and the trap of authenticity: beyond in-authenticity and invention. Anthropology Quarterly [Online] 86:397-426. Available at: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/anthropological_quarterly/v086/86.2.theodossopoulos01.html.
    Prompted by tourist commentary that describes an Emberá community in
    Panama as “inauthentic” or “invented,” I examine the limitations of these
    concepts when used to refer to cultural practices of indigenous communities.
    To escape from a limiting, singular vision of authenticity, I argue,
    attention should be paid to the multiple and overlapping meanings of the
    authentic as these are negotiated in particular contexts. In the case of
    Emberá indigenous tourism, the tourists’ search for an authenticity uncorrupted
    by modernity inspires indigenous articulations of the authentic
    related to diverse sets of cultural practices not only in the past, but also in
    the present. Acknowledging this complexity can set us free from the trap
    of a singularly conceived authenticity.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2013). Infuriated with the Infuriated? Blaming Tactics and Discontent about the Greek Financial Crisis. Current Anthropology [Online] 54:200-221. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/669855.
    The austerity measures introduced as a response to the recent financial crisis in Greece have inspired a wave of discontent among local Greek actors. The latter declared themselves as “indignant” or “infuriated” with the austerity measures. Their indignation, as I demonstrate in this article, has been expressed in terms of diverse arguments that have either encouraged public protest or served as a critique of the protest in culturally intimate contexts. Here, I argue that the critical local discourse about the austerity measures does not merely represent an attempt to evade responsibility but a serious concern with accountability and the unsettling of moral community, which leads local actors to pursue their own interpretative trajectories. The resulting interpretations, in all their diversity, and despite the fact that they do not directly affect political decisions, provide local actors with a sense of discursive empowerment against their perceived peripheralization.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2013). Laying Claim to Authenticity: Five Anthropological Dilemmas. Anthropology Quarterly [Online] 86:337-360. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/anq.2013.0032.
    The introduction to this special collection examines five dilemmas about
    the use of the concept of authenticity in anthropological analysis. These
    relate to 1) the expectation of a singular authenticity “deep” in oneself or
    beyond the surface of social reality, 2) the contradictions emerging from
    the opposition of authenticity with inauthenticity, 3) the irony of the notion
    of invention of tradition (which deconstructs, but also offends), 4) the criteria
    involved in the authentication of the age of objects (with a consideration
    of their materiality), and 5) authenticity’s simultaneity, its contemporaneous
    multiple conceptualizations in context. I argue for a perspective on the
    study of authenticity that acknowledges the simultaneous co-existence of
    more than one parallel manifestation of authenticity in any given negotiation
    of the authentic.
  • Mendizábal, T. and Theodossopoulos, D. (2012). The Emberá, tourism and indigenous archaeology: "rediscovering" the past in Eastern Panama. Memorias [Online] 9:88-114. Available at: http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=85524641005.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2012). Indigenous attire, exoticisation and social change: dressing and undressing among the Emberá of Panama. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute [Online] 18:591-612. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9655.2012.01778.x.
    In the final quarter of the twentieth century, the Emberá in Panama abandoned their traditional attire in favour of Western clothes. Recently, however, the introduction of indigenous tourism in the country has encouraged a positive re-evaluation of Emberá traditional attire and enhanced its visibility nationally and internationally. Such transformations in Emberá dress – both the disregard for and re-evaluation of it – can shed some light on the fluid, non-unidirectional nature of social change in indigenous society. I argue that Western exoticization – inherent in the expectation of the authentic and/or the suspicion that particular traditions are ‘invented’ – misrepresents the complexity and dynamic nature of Emberá clothing practices. Contemporary Emberá choices about how to dress in different contexts should instead be understood as responses to two forms of exoticization: the stereotyping of indigenous practices, but also their idealization. In this rendering, the reintroduction of the old Emberá ways of dressing, when this occurs, should be read not as a static imitation of the past, but instead as a reflexive adjustment to new opportunities for cultural representation in the present.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2010). With or without gringos: When Panamanians talk about the United States and its citizens. Social Analysis [Online] 54:52-70. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/sa.2010.540104.
    In local and informal contexts, Panamanians talk about the power of the United States and describe its citizens in multifaceted and complex terms. In this article I examine those views as they are articulated in informal urban settings in Panama City and in conversa- tions with middle-class Panamanians. My respondents evaluate the US-Panama relationship and discuss individual North Americans with realism, reflecting a graceful but critical spirit of forgiveness toward their more powerful ally. A broader awareness of US colonialism in the past is combined with a pragmatic acknowledgement of opportunities in the present and the desire for a more equal relationship in the future. I argue that the opportunity to voice unreserved opinions about power- ful Others can potentially empower local actors.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. and Kirtsoglou, E. (2010). The poetics of anti-Americanism in Greece: rhetoric, agency and local meaning. Social Analysis [Online] 54:106-124. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/sa.2010.540107.
    In this article we examine the content and rationale of anti- Americanism in Greece, drawing ethnographic information from two urban centers, Patras and Volos. We pay special attention to the con- spiracy theory attributes of this rhetoric, and, instead of dismissing it or seeing it primarily as a manifestation of nationalist thinking, we attempt to unpack the threads of meaning that make it so appealing in local contexts. We look in particular at the etiology of blame within this particular discourse and try to explain the specific readings of history and politics that make it significant in local contexts. We argue that Greek anti-Americanism has an empowering potential for local actors, as it provides them with a certain degree of discursive agency over wider political processes that are beyond their immediate control.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2007). Encounters with Authentic Embera Culture in Panama. Journeys: The International Journal of Travel and Travel Writing [Online] 8:93-115. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.3167/jys.2007.08010206.
    In this article I will compare indigenous cultural performances for outsiders in an allegedly 'inauthentic' Embera community in Panama, which welcomes tourists on a daily basis, with similar staged events in some other less accessible communities, which receive visitors much less frequently. I will challenge the idea introduced by several travellers who seek authentic experiences that the first community is 'unreal' and its repetitive representations of Embera culture are mechanical, sterile and unoriginal. I will argue that these repetitive cultural performances constitute real lived experiences, and do not deserve to be demeaned as inauthentic. I will further maintain that in the 'tourist' community, as well as in the less accessible settlements, the Embera respond to the same set of expectations. They imagine what Western visitors would appreciate from their culture and enact very similar representations of these generalised expectations.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2006). Introduction: The ‘Turks’ in the Imagination of the ‘Greeks’. South European Society and Politics [Online] 11:1-32. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13608740500470299.
    Greek views of their Turkish neighbours draw inspiration from a wide variety of sources. These include perceptions of resemblance and difference, metaphors of inclusion and exclusion, ideas promoted by national education, adaptations of history, painful personal memories, and experiences of friendly contact. This introductory chapter explores these themes as they emerge in the anthropological literature and suggests that the notion of the generalized Turk, in the mind of those people who identify themselves as Greeks, can be approached as a ‘hollow category’. The concept encapsulates several potential identities for the Turks formulated by Others. The hollow capacity of this type of categorization accommodates a continuous but incomplete process of interpretation and reinterpretation, in the context of which new and old information are combined to substantiate more or less conventional evaluations of the Turks.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2004). The Turks and Their Nation in the Worldview of Greeks in Patras. History and Anthropology [Online] 15:29-45. Available at: http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1080/0275720042000191073.
    In this article, the inhabitants of Patras, a town in Peloponnese, discuss their views about the Turks, the most representative ethnic Other in Greece. They remember their childhood attitudes towards the Turks and compare them to the opinions they currently hold. In most cases they feel the need to rationalize their mistrust towards the state of Turkey and their use of overtly negative stereotypes to describe its people. They even appear willing to critically re-evaluate the standard versions of nationalist discourse that inform their views about the Turks. Nevertheless, their attempts to reconsider conventional beliefs about Turkey relies on nationalist readings of history and often results in the unintentional recycling of older stereotypes and the perpetuation of mistrust towards the ethnic Other.
  • Brown, K. and Theodossopoulos, D. (2004). Others' Others: Talking About Stereotypes and Constructions of Otherness in Southeast Europe. History and Anthropology [Online] 15:1-22. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0275720042000191055.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. and Kirtsoglou, E. (2004). ‘They are Taking Our Culture Away’: Tourism and Culture Commodification in the Garifuna Community of Roatan. Critique of Anthropology [Online] 24:135-157. Available at: http://www.dx.doi.org/10.1177/0308275X04042650.
    This article is concerned with the efforts of a Garifuna community in Honduras to claim a space in the growing local tourist economy. Its inhabitants maintain that they suffer a form of culture loss because they do not control the commodification of their culture through tourism. By examining the local perspective, we argue that cultural performances could be treated as cultural property and consumed by tourists in a context of mutual exchange as opposed to a hegemonic one. We suggest that every cultural performance entails a state- ment about collective identity and thus the local battle for cultural ownership relates to the politics of self-representation and the position of the community in the wider world. The members of the community we studied articulate their desire to become an attraction, which can fully satisfy the tourist quest for authen- ticity and difference. Only this has to take place on their own terms, to serve their interests and to promote the image they have about themselves and their culture.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2003). Degrading others and Honouring Ourselves: Ethnic Stereotypes as Categories and as Explanations. Journal of Mediterranean Studies [Online] 13:177-188. Available at: http://www.um.edu.mt/medinst/journal/volume_13,_number_2_2003_ethnic_stereotypes_and_their_ethnographic_alternatives_in_south_east_europe.


  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2016). Exoticisation Undressed: Ethnographic Nostalgia and Authenticity in Emberá Clothes. [Online]. Manchester University Press. Available at: http://www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/9781526100832/.
    'Exoticisation Undressed' is an innovative ethnography that makes visible the many layers through which our understandings of indigenous cultures are filtered and their inherent power to distort and refract understanding. The book focuses in detail on the clothing practices of the Emberá in Panama, an Amerindian ethnic group, who have gained national and international visibility through their engagement with indigenous tourism. The very act of gaining visibility while wearing indigenous attire has encouraged among some Emberá communities a closer identification with an indigenous identity and a more confident representational awareness. The clothes that the Emberá wear are not simply used to convey messages, but also become constitutive of their intended messages. By wearing indigenous-and-modern clothes, the Emberá-who are often seen by outsiders as shadows of a vanishing world-reclaim their place as citizens of a contemporary nation.

    The analysis presented in the book makes visible 'ethnographic nostalgia', the distorting view that the present seems to emerge through the pages of a previous ethnography—a mirage: for example, the Emberá carrying out their daily chores dressed as their grandparents. Ethnographic nostalgia distorts social reality by superimposing an interpretation of underlying cultural patterns over intentional or purposeful action. Through reflexive engagement, 'Exoticisation undressed' exposes the workings of ethnographic nostalgia and the Western quest for a singular, primordial authenticity, unravelling instead new layers of complexity that reverse and subvert exoticisation.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2003). Troubles with turtles: Cultural Understandings of the Environment on a Greek Island. Oxford: Berghahn Books.
    The people of Vassilikos, farmers and tourist entrepreneurs on the Greek island of Zakynthos, are involved in a bitter environmental dispute concerning the conservation of sea turtles. Against the environmentalists' practices and ideals they set their own culture of relating to the land, cultivation, wild and domestic animals.

    Written from an anthropological perspective, this book puts forward the idea that a thorough study of indigenous cultures is a fundamental step to understanding conflicts over the environment. For this purpose, the book offers a detailed account of the cultural depth and richness of the human environmental relationship in Vassilikos, focusing on the engagement of its inhabitants with diverse aspects of the local environment, such as animal care, agriculture, tourism and hunting.

Book section

  • Kapferer, B. and Theodossopoulos, D. (2016). IntroductIon: Against Exoticism. in: Kapferer, B. and Theodossopoulos, D. eds. Against Exoticism: Toward the Transcendence of Relativism and Universalism in Anthropology. Oxford, United Kingdom: Berghahn Books, pp. 1-23. Available at: http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/KapfererAgainst.
    Anthropology begins in the encounter with the ‘exotic’: what stands outside of—and challenges—conventional or established understandings. This volume confronts the distortions of orientalism, ethnocentrism, and romantic nostalgia to expose exoticism, defined as the construction of false and unsubstantiated difference. Its aim is to re-found the importance of the exotic in the development of anthropological knowledge and to overcome methodological dualisms and dualistic approaches.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2016). On ethnographic nostalgia: exoticising and de-exoticising Emberá culture, for example. in: Against Exoticism: Toward the Transcendence of Relativism and Universalism in Anthropology. Oxford, United Kingdom: Berghahn Books, pp. 24-43. Available at: http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/KapfererAgainst.
    In this article I introduce the concept of ethnographic nostalgia as an analytical tool that may contribute to the de-exoticisation of the ethnographic object. I argue that scholarly engagement with a previous ethnographic record, and the art of writing ethnography, generate a particular type of nostalgia that emerges from the comparison of an already described, polished and well-articulated past with a more imperfect and unpredictable present. Ethnographic nostalgia may distort and exoticise our description of social reality by superimposing an interpretation of underlying cultural patterns over the spontaneous or unpredictable intentions of purposeful action. But ethnographic nostalgia may also lead, through systematic deconstruction, to the discovery of new layers of social complexity, thus de-exoticising academic interpretation. To offer examples of these two possibilities provided by ethnographic nostalgia I look at a series of challenges that I encountered during my fieldwork with the Emberá.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2016). Afterword: Lessons of the Exotic. in: Kapferer, B. and Theodossopoulos, D. eds. Against Exoticism: Toward the Transcendence of Relativism and Universalism in Anthropology. Oxford, United Kingdom: Berghahn Books, pp. 137-145. Available at: http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/KapfererAgainst.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2015). Sharing anthropological knowledge, decolonizing anthropology: Emberá indigeneity and engaged anthropology. in: Sillitoe, P. ed. Indigenous Studies and Engaged Anthropology: The Collaborative Moment. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Ltd, pp. 33-54. Available at: http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-84938236840&partnerID=40&md5=f8cbd841e6677950c99056f024450171.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2014). The poetics of indignation in Greece: Anti-austerity protest and accountability. in: Werner, N., Spellman-Poots, K. and Webb, M. eds. The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest: Beyond the Arab Spring. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. 368-388. Available at: http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-84936995058&partnerID=40&md5=774e922f694988bc0257e9c4dd20884b.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2014). ????????? ??????????? ? ??????????? ??????; ?????????????? ???????????? ??? ??????? ????????? ????????? in: Plexousaki, E. ed. ????????????? ??? ??????????: ??????????? ??? ?????????? ?????????? ???? ?????? Athens: Alexandria, pp. 201-229.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2014). Scorn or Idealization? Tourism Imaginaries, Exoticization and Ambivalence in Emberá Indigenous Tourism. in: Salazar, N. and Graburn, N. eds. Tourism Imaginaries: Anthropological Approaches. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 57-79. Available at: http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title.php?rowtag=SalazarTourism.
    Scorn and idealization represent two dominant orientations in the exoticiza- tion of indigenous communities that host tourists. These two orientations also appear as dominant tropes in the tourism imaginary, shaping the negotiation of expectations during the tourism encounter. In this chapter, I argue that these two types of exoticization often coexist in parallel in the tourist imagination, producing contradictions that set in motion the imagination of local hosts. The host communities gradually develop their own versions of exoticization, as they categorize and stereotype the tourists. Thus, at any given moment, parallel layers of exotization participate and inspire any given tourism imaginary. This realization can help us escape from a limiting vision of indigenous hosts as passive recipients of tourism imagination; it can also help us ap- preciate the agency of hosts in renegotiating their self-identity during the tourism encounter. In this chapter, I explore these propositions in the context of Emberá indigenous tourism. I use as a case study the development of tourism in Parara Puru, an Emberá community in the Chagres National Park in Panama. Tourism has provided the Emberá with opportunities to investigate the expectations of their guests and, in an effort to satisfy those expectations, respond to contradictory types of exoticization. These range from idealization, an attitude that reflects nostalgia for the idealized “vanishing savage” and lost worlds unaffected by (Western) civilizing processes, to scorn, irony, and negative stereotyping, an attitude to which I refer as an “unintentional primitivization.”
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2013). Dance, visibility, and representational self-awareness in an Embera community in Panama. in: Neveu Kringelbach, H. and Skinner, J. eds. Dancing Cultures: Globalization, Tourism and Identity in the Anthropology of Dance. Oxford: Berghahn Books, pp. 121-140. Available at: http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title.php?rowtag=NeveuKringelbachDancing.
    The residents of the Emberá community of Parara Puru– women, men and children –dance for consecutive groups of tourists day after day. Due to their full-time involvement with tourism, they have numerous opportunities to perfect their skills as individual performers and to spontaneously improvise or explore the details of dance as an expressive medium. Their daily engagement with Emberá dancing, and the enactment of dances in front of audiences of outsiders, has encouraged local dancers to develop a strong interest in the authenticity and history of their dance, the details of the choreography, and its importance as medium of representation. Overall, the practice of dancing for tourists has emerged as an act of wider signicance for the Emberá, contributing not only to the global visibility of this ethnic group, but also to the knowledge and awareness of local dancers about their own culture. In this chapter I embark upon an exploration of Emberá dance, which has three aims. First, I seek to chart ethnographically the details of this tradition, which had been in decline over the later part of the twentieth century, but has – since the introduction of tourism fifteen years ago – been revitalized. Given that previous ethnographic testimonies on this topic are short and do not provide a thorough description of the particular dances, I attempt here to fill a gap in the anthropological record. Taking inspiration from the developing field of the anthropology of dance, I describe the particular form and practice of Emberá dance as enacted in the context of indigenous tourism, but also the circumstances by which Emberá dance contributes to the wider politics of Emberá cultural representation.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. and Skinner, J. (2011). Introduction: The play of expectation in tourism. in: Skinner, J. and Theodossopoulos, D. eds. Great Expectations: Imagination and Anticipation in Tourism. Oxford: Berghahn Books, pp. 1-26. Available at: http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-84878288774&partnerID=40&md5=133dca16f92bd5e889cc5aa4bc76f60d.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2011). Emberá indigenous tourism and the world of expectations. in: Skinner, J. and Theodossopoulos, D. eds. Great Expectations: Imagination and Anticipation in Tourism. Oxford: Berghahn Books, pp. 40-60. Available at: http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-84917437159&partnerID=40&md5=76a7fe8025e76b019b5ee1fe4c197fb3.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2010). Introduction: United in discontent. in: Dimitrios, T. and Kirtsoglou, E. eds. United in Discontent: Local Responses to Cosmopolitanism and Globalization. Oxford: Berghahn Books, pp. 1-19.
  • Kirtsoglou, E. and Theodossopoulos, D. (2010). Intimacies of antiglobalization: Imagining unhappy others as oneself in Greece. in: Theodossopoulos, D. and Kirtsoglou, E. eds. United in Discontent: Local Responses to Cosmopolitanism and Globalization. Oxford: Berghahn Books, pp. 85-102.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2010). Tourists and Indigenous Culture as Resources: Lessons from Embera Cultural Tourism in Panama. in: Carrier, J. and Macleod, D. eds. Tourism, Power and Culture: Anthropological Insights. Bristol: Channel View, pp. 115-133.
    In the last 15 years, a small number of Embera communities located close to Panama City have succeeded in developing cultural tourism. This recent development has encouraged those Embera who are involved to put their culture at the very centre of their self-presentation and their everyday activities. The particular encounters of the Embera with tourists have enhanced Embera cultural practices, and have demonstrated that Embera culture is desired and admired by Western visitors, who carry hard currency and are citizens of some of the world’s most powerful nations. In this respect, tourism in Panama has played an important role in increasing the visibility of cultural diversity and in shaping the politics of representation. It has also inspired the Embera to re-evaluate their culture, and has provided new opportunities for them to enact and experiment with their indigenous identity and to relate to it in new ways. From their point of view, the new practice of entertaining tourists is an indispensable part of an ‘authentic’ and constantly evolving Embera culture.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2007). Introduction: The ‘Turks’ in the imagination of the Greeks. in: Theodossopoulos, D. ed. When Greeks think about Turks: The View from Anthropology. London: Routledge, pp. 1-32.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2007). Politics of friendship, worldviews of mistrust: the Greek-Turkish rapprochement in local conversation. in: Theodossopoulos, D. ed. When Greeks think about Turks: The View from Anthropology. London: Routledge, pp. 193-210.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2005). Care, Order and Usefulness: The Context of the Human-Animal Relationship in a Greek Island Community. in: Knight, J. ed. Animals in Person: Cultural Perspectives on Human-Animal Intimacies. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 15-35.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2004). "Working in Nature", "Caring for Nature": Diverse Views of the Environment in the Context of an Environmental Dispute. in: Carrier, J. ed. Confronting Environments: Local Understanding in a Globalizing World. Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, pp. 49-70.

Edited book

  • Kapferer, B. and Theodossopoulos, D. eds. (2016). Against Exoticism: Toward the Transcendence of Relativism and Universalism in Anthropology. [Online]. Oxford, United Kingdom: Berghahn Books. Available at: http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/KapfererAgainst.
    Anthropology begins in the encounter with the ‘exotic’: what stands outside of—and challenges—conventional or established understandings. This volume confronts the distortions of orientalism, ethnocentrism, and romantic nostalgia to expose exoticism, defined as the construction of false and unsubstantiated difference. Its aim is to re-found the importance of the exotic in the development of anthropological knowledge and to overcome methodological dualisms and dualistic approaches.?

    Chapters look at the risk of exoticism in the perspectivist approach, the significant exotic corrective of Levi-Strauss vis-à-vis an imperializing Eurocentrism, our nostalgic relationship with the ethnographic record, and the attempts of local communities to readapt previous exoticized referents, renegotiate their identity, and ‘counter-exoticize.’ This volume demonstrates a range of approaches that will be valuable for researchers and students seeking to effectively establish comparative methodological frameworks that transcend issues of relativism and universalism.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. ed. (2015). De-Pathologising Resistance: Anthropological interventions. [Online]. Routledge. Available at: http://www.routledge.com/products/9781138930247.
    In a time of renewed interest in insurrectionary movements, urban protest, and anti-austerity indignation, the idea of resistance is regaining its relevance in social theory. De-Pathologizing Resistance re-examines resistance as a concept that can aid social analysis, highlighting the dangers of pathologising resistance as illogical and abnormal, or exoticising it in romanticised but patronising terms. Taking a de-pathologising and de-exoticising perspective, this book brings together insights from older and newer studies, the intellectual biographies of its contributing authors, and case studies of resistance in diverse settings, such as Egypt, Greece, Israel, and Mexico. From feminist studies to plaza occupations and anti-systemic uprisings, there is an emerging need to connect the analysis of contemporary protest movements under a broader theoretical re-examination. The idea of resistance?with all of its contradictions and its dynamism?provides such a challenging opportunity. This book was originally published as a special issue of History and Anthropology.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. and Skinner, J. eds. (2011). Great Expectations: Imagination and Anticipation in Tourism. [Online]. Oxford: Berghahn. Available at: http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title.php?rowtag=SkinnerGreat.
    The negotiation of expectations in tourism is a complex and dynamic process – one that is central to the imagination of cultural difference. Expectations not only affect the lives and experiences of tourists, but also their hosts, and play an important part in the success or failure of the overall tourism experience. It is for this reason, the authors argue, that special attention should be given to how expectations constitute and sustain tourism. The case studies presented here explore what fuels the desires to visit particular places, to what degree expectations inform the experience of the place, and the frequent disjunctions between tourist expectations and experiences. Careful attention is paid to how the imagination of the visitor inspires the imagination of the host, and vice-versa; how tourists and host communities actively imagine, re-imagine, and shape each other’s lives. This realization, has profound consequences, not solely for academic analysis, but for all those who participate in and work within the tourism industry.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. and Kirtsoglou, E. eds. (2010). United in Discontent: Local Responses to Cosmopolitanism and Globalization. [Online]. Berghahn. Available at: http://www.berghahnbooks.com/title.php?rowtag=TheodossopoulosUnited.
    Cosmopolitanism is often discussed in a critical and disapproving manner: as a concept complicit with the interests of the powerful, or as a notion related to Western political supremacy, the ills of globalization, inequality, and capitalist economic penetration. Seen as the moral justification for embracing or tolerating cultural difference, ethnically and socially diverse communities unenthusiastic with change, develop an acknowledgement of their common position vis-à-vis a western, “universal” political point of view. By means of exploring the idiosyncratic form of political intimacy generated by anti-cosmopolitanism, and assuming an analytical and critical stance towards the concepts of parochialism and localism, this volume examines the political consciousness of such negatively predisposed actors, and it attempts to explain their reservation towards the sincerity of international politics, their reliance on conspiracy theories or nationalist narratives, their introversion.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. ed. (2007). When Greeks think about Turks: The View from Anthropology. London: Routledge.

Edited journal

  • Theodossopoulos, D. ed. (2014). Rethinking Resistance in the 21st Century. History and Anthropology 25:415-550.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. ed. (2013). Laying Claim to Authenticity: Anthropological Dilemmas. Great Expectations: Imagination and Anticipation in Tourism 86.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2010). Rhetoric and the Workings of Power Theodossopoulos, D. and Kirtsoglou, E. eds. Social Analysis [Online] 54:52-70. Available at: http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-77956015383&partnerID=40&md5=2714813245ad98018ebd177425f8ca2b.
  • Dimitrios, T. ed. (2006). When Greeks Think about Turks: The View from Anthropology. [Online] 11. Available at: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/fses20/11/1.


  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2017). Exoticisation Undressed: a Graphic review by the author. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute [Online] 23:419-421. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.12614.


  • Theodossopoulos, D. and Kapferer, B. eds. (2019). Democarcy’s Paradox: Populism and its Contemporary Crisis. [Online]. Oxford: Berghahn. Available at: https://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/TheodossopoulosDemocracys.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. and Kapferer, B. (2019). Introduction: Populism and its Paradox. in: Theodossopoulos, D. and Kapferer, B. eds. Democarcy’s Paradox: Populism and its Contemporary Crisis. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 1-34. Available at: https://www.berghahnbooks.com/title/TheodossopoulosDemocracys.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. and Kirtsoglou, E. (2018). Empathy, as affective ethical technology and transformative political praxis. in: Kapferer, B. and Gold, M. eds. Moral Anthropology: A Critique. Oxford, United Kingdom: Berghahn Books, pp. 104-132.
  • Theodossopoulos, D. (2017). Indigenous tourism as a transformative process: the case of the Emberá in Panama. in: Bunten, A. C. and Nelson, G. eds. Cultural Tourism Movements. Toronto: Toronto University Press, pp. 99-116. Available at: https://utorontopress.com/us/indigenous-tourism-movements-2.
    In this chapter I discuss how Indigenous tourism has affected the representational self-awareness of the residents of an Emberá community
    in Panama. I approach Indigenous tourism as a transformative process that inspires the Emberá to experiment and creatively develop
    pre-existing cultural practices, but also to articulate their identity to audiences of outsiders. I argue that Indigenous tourism has the potential to deeply
    shape the political representation of Indigenous societies, and as such deserves special attention as a distinctive variant of cultural tourism.
    Unlike top-down homogenizing processes that rely on national narratives, Indigenous tourism provides opportunities for developing
    cultural representation at the local level, often by calling attention to cultural difference. Even in nations where multiculturalism is promoted
    as an official discourse, Indigenous tourism may encourage the articulation of Indigenous identity in previously unexplored directions.
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