School of Anthropology & Conservation

Excellence in diversity Global in reach


Professor Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

Professor of Social Anthropology

Political and environmental anthropology; ethnic relations and stereotyping; globalisation and indigeneity; resistance and protest

 

profile image for Professor Dimitrios Theodossopoulos

School Roles and Responsibilities

Deputy Director of Graduate Studies; Director of the Centre for Ethnographic Research

Academic Background

I work in diverse thematic areas that range from the consequences of the recent economic crisis (Greece) to the politics of indigineneity and cultural representation (Panama). My longstanding contribution to the social analysis of political processes focuses on local resistance and discontent with the workings of power. In the last twenty-four years I have conducted anthropological fieldwork in urban, rural and rainforest contexts on a variety of topics that include cultural authenticity, indigenous tourism, ethnic stereotyping, nationalism and human-animal conflicts. My current research focuses on two areas:

  • Anti-austerity resistance and the social consequences of the financial crisis. I am the PI of an upcoming comparative ESRC project (starting October 2014) that aims to record the outcomes of austerity as they are percieved by Greek and Portuguese families. I am also conducting fieldwork and writing about the politics of anti-neoliberal indignation in Greece.
  • The politics of cultural representation, authenticity, and indigeneity among the Emberá in Panama. I am working towards developing a general theory for understanding exoticisation and self-exoticisation and their role for shaping local and global identities.

More broadly, I'am fascinated with the global dimensions of anti-globalization, its political repercussions for local communities, and the imaginations of a worldwide community of peripheral actors discontented with the Western civilization priorities. My publications on this theme include the edited volume United in Discontent (Berghahn), which examines the dissatisfaction of communities on the periphery of power with globalisation and Western versions of cosmopolitanism. As I argue in the introduction of this volume, globalisation paradoxically encourages its own critique by facilitating the circulation of the very ideas that make its denunciation possible.

I also have a long-term interest in the anthropology of nationalism and the politics of ethnic identity-making, with a focus on perceptions of other ethnic groups, the use of ethnic stereotypes, and the meaningfulness of international politics at the local level. My publications in this field include the volume When Greeks Think about Turks (Routledge), two edited collections on ethnic stereotypes in Southeast Europe, and a special issue of Social Analysis that sheds light on how local actors discuss the Great Powers. My own ethnographic contributions to this project examine anti-Americanism in Greece and Panama.

I have also worked in the field of Environmental Anthropology, and in particular the politics of the Environmental Conservation. My first anthropological fieldwork and the monograph Troubles with Turtles (Berghahn) examined a dispute between a community of farmers and, mostly urban, middle-class, environmentalists. Despite my involvement in ecological conservation, I engaged in a sustained critique of environmentalism, inspired by the axiom that a thorough study of indigenous cultures is a fundamental step to understanding conflicts over the environment. In the context of this work I have also written about human-animal relationships, hunting and the social dimensions od environmental conservation.

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Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository

Book section
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.
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. (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.
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.
Book
Theodossopoulos, D. (2016). Exoticisation Undressed: Ethnographic Nostalgia and Authenticity in Emberá Clothes. [Online]. Manchester University Press. Available at: http://www.manchesteruniversitypress.co.uk/9781526100832/.
Article
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.
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.
Review
Theodossopoulos, D. (2017). Exoticisation Undressed: a Graphic review by the author. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) [Online] 23:419-421. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.chain.kent.ac.uk/doi/10.1111/1467-9655.12614/full.
Showing 8 of 56 total publications in KAR. [See all in KAR]

 

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I teaching the following modules:

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

The Writing Up Seminar (PhD writing and reviewing skills)

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Research Interests:

  • The anthropology of Panama; Embera culture and ethnography
  • Indigenous tourism, commodification, and cultural authenticity
  • The social consequences of the financial crisis; anti-austerity discourse
  • Local expressions of discontent, protest and political activism
  • Nationalism, stereotypes and constructions of Otherness
  • Greco-Turkish politics of friendship
  • Environmental Anthropology, attitudes to animals and perceptions of the natural world

I am concerned with how anthropologists explain local processes of resistance, a topic that I address in the volume United in Discontent. I pay particular attention to the movement of the 'indignants', the resistance towards austerity measures in Greece, Spain and Portugal [see recent article in Current Anthropology 59 (2)]. I argue that local political rhetoric provides ordinary citizens with a sense of empowerment over processes beyond their control. This is why I believe that the primary responsibility of those researchers who wish to approach the topic of the financial crisis anthropologically is to investigate the interpretative trajectory of local arguments and discourse.

I am also currently working on issues of cultural representation, in particular among the Emberá in Panama. I work with an Emberá community that receives visitors on a regular basis and specializes in indigenous tourism. Its inhabitants enact with remarkable consistency and confidence a number of Emberá cultural traditions, which they make available for audiences of tourists. I am interested in the social change that has resulted from the increased visibility of Emberá identity [see recent article in the JRAI 18 (3)], the pursuit of cultural authenticity [see recent article in Anthropological Quarterly 86 (2)], and the effects of an unprecedented rate of contact with the outside world.

Current Research Projects:

 

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Current PhD students:

Frederika Treeby - Isolation, social networks and belonging among ex-detainees of UK Migrant Removal Centres: a phenomenological approach

PhD students who have received their doctorate under my supervision:

  1. Nicoletta Paphitou - (competed in 2016) Cultural tourism and the image of Aphrodite in Cyprus
  2. Konstantinos Ardavanis – (completed in 2013) ‘Navigating a hyphenated Identity: an ethnography of the Greek-American community in New York City.’
  3. Michael Pearson - (completed in 2013) ‘The Discordant Accord: Romania and the European Union.’
  4. Dr Mackenzie Paige Belt – (completed in 2012) ‘Hosts and Domestic Workers: From Maintaining Social Distance to Creating Cultural Intimacy between Sri Lankan Migrants and Greek-Cypriots in Nicosia, Cyprus.’
  5. Dr Alexis Karkotis – (completed in 2012) “‘Now we live together’: The poetics of everyday life in a spatially concentrated Ngöbe community in Panama.”
  6. Dr Mark Burchell (completed in 2011) ‘Military enculturation: an anthropological exploration of discipline and ritual practices among the Royal Marines’
  7. Dr Nikitas Palantzas (completed in 2011) ‘Perplexed by the European Union: Examining Euro-sceptic manifestations towards Turkey’s accession to the European Union among citizens of Istanbul’
  8. Dr López-Rocha, Sandra Yolanda (completed in 2009). ‘Identity, adaptation and community making among the Chilean diaspora in England’
  9. Dr Costas Constantinou (completed in 2009) ‘Transplanted selves: kidney transplantation in Cyprus and the reconstruction of normality’
  10. Dr Steve Adam (completed in 2007) ‘Culture heritage preservation among the Tigua Pueblo of El Paso, Texas’
  11. Dr Lina Sistani (completed in 2005) ‘Native Dilemmas: Histories, Memories and Identities in “Macedonia”’
  12. Dr Paul Cooper (completed in 2002) ‘Live and learn: the educational and social experience of adult, returning learners’
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Last Updated: 13/10/2017