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Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Dr Kostas Retsikas

BA (Athens), MA (Kent), PhD (Edinburgh)


Kostas Retsikas
Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Senior Lecturer in South East Asian Anthropology

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Academic Staff, Centre of South East Asian Studies

SOAS Food Studies Centre

Member, SOAS Food Studies Centre

Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies


Dr Kostas Retsikas
Email address:
020 7898 4432
SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Office Hours:
Fridays 3-5pm


Dr Kostas Retsikas - Alternative economics: Islam, zakat, and equivalence in Indonesia


Courses Taught
PhD Students supervised


My work focuses on theoretical concerns that I explore both through ethnographic materials collected largely through field research in Java, Indonesia, and adventurous engagements with library texts.
My first fieldwork involved an 18th month-long research in the provincial town of Probolinggo on East Java’s coast. This project culminated in a monograph that arranged the materials so produced around the theme of personhood. Taking inspiration from the works of Gilles Deleuze, the monograph advanced the concept of the ‘diaphoron’ person – a person who constantly differs from him/herself and who is always already involved in an unlimited process of becoming – as a new figure for considering the problem of the subject in anthropology.

At the same time, I have pursued my interests in the anthropology of Islam, having recently co-edited a volume with Dr Magnus Marsden on this topic, as well as in human embodiment, the senses, and violence.   

I recently returned to Java for a new project, this time on Islamic economics as seen through zakat practices and, with the generous funding of the Economic and Social Research Council, I spent 12 months in Surabaya and Jakarta working with charities, donors, and recipients. A series of diverse yet closely linked themes have arisen out of these engagements, some of which fall well within the long-standing tradition of anthropological theorising regarding the gift, while others are more directly connected to issues of rights and justice as well as multiplication, profusion, and salvation.


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Available for
Regional Expertise
  • South East Asia
Country Expertise
  • Indonesia


Authored Books

Retsikas, Kostas (2012) Becoming - An Anthropological Approach to Understandings of the Person in Java. London: Anthem Press.

Edited Books

Marsden, Magnus and Retsikas, Kostas, eds. (2012) Articulating Islam: Anthropological Approaches to Muslim Worlds. Dordecht: Springer. (Muslims in Global Societies Series)

Book Chapters

Retsikas, Kostas (2012) 'Becoming Sacred: Humanity and Divinity in East Java, Indonesia.' In: Marsden, M. and Retsikas, K., (eds.), Articulating Islam: Anthropological Approaches to Muslim Worlds. Dordecht: Springer.

Marsden, Magnus and Retsikas, Kostas (2012) 'Introduction: Articulating Islam.' In: Articulating Islam: Anthropological Approaches to Muslim Worlds. Dordecht: Springer. (Muslims in Global Societies Series)

Retsikas, Kostas (2008) 'Knowledge from the Body: Fieldwork, Power, and the Acquisition of a New Self.' In: Halstead, Narmala and Hirsch, Eric and Okely, Judith, (eds.), Knowing How to Know: Fieldwork and the Ethnographic Present. Oxford: Berghahn Books, pp. 110-129. (EASA)


Retsikas, Kostas (2014) 'Reconceptualising zakat in Indonesia: Worship, philanthropy and rights.' Indonesia and the Malay World, 42 (124). pp. 337-357.

Retsikas, Kostas (2010) 'Unconscious culture and conscious nature: exploring East Javanese conceptions of the person through Bourdieu’s lenses.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 16 (s1). s140-s157.

Retsikas, Kostas (2010) 'The sorcery of gender: sex, death and difference in East Java, Indonesia.' South East Asia Research, 18 (3). pp. 471-502.

Retsikas, Kostas (2007) 'Being and place: movement, ancestors, and personhood in East Java, Indonesia.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 13 (4). pp. 969-986.

Retsikas, Kostas (2007) 'The Power Of The Senses: Ethnicity, History and Embodiment in East Java, Indonesia.' Indonesia and the Malay World, 35 (102). pp. 183-210.

Retsikas, Kostas (2006) 'The Semiotics of Violence. Ninja, Sorcerers, and State Terror in Post-Soeharto Indonesia.' Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 162 (1). pp. 56-94.

Book Reviews

Retsikas, Kostas (2013) 'Review of Southeast Asia’s Credit Revolution: From Moneylenders to Microfinance.' ASEASUK News, 53 . pp. 18-19.

Retsikas, Kostas (2010) 'Review of “Kampung, Islam, and the State in Urban Java” by Patrick Guinness.' ASEASUK News, 47 . pp. 25-27.

Retsikas, Kostas (2010) 'Review of “Islamic Spectrum in Java” by Timothy Daniels.' South East Asia Research, 18 (2). pp. 363-365.

Retsikas, Kostas (2010) 'Review of “Anthropology and Social Theory: Culture, Power, and the Acting Subject” by Sherry B. Ortner.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 16 (1). pp. 199-200.

Retsikas, Kostas (2009) 'Review of “Other Peoples’ Anthropologies: Ethnographic Practice on the Margins” edited by Aleksandar Boškovic.' Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 15 (2). pp. 440-441.

Retsikas, Kostas (2005) 'Review of “Durga’s Mosque: Cosmology, Conversion, and Community in Central Javanese Islam” by Stephen C. Headley.' L’Homme, 174 . pp. 311-312.

Retsikas, Kostas (2005) 'Review of “Chinese Indonesians: Remembering, Distorting, Forgetting” edited by Tim Lindsey & Helen Pausacker.' South East Asia Research, 13 (3). pp. 417-419.

Retsikas, Kostas (2004) 'Review of “In Search of Chin Identity: A Study in Religion, Politics, and Ethnic Identity in Burma” by Sakhong Lian.' ASEASUK News, 35 . pp. 29-32.


Retsikas, Kostas (2012) 'Mengembangkan Kedermawanan: Islam, Sedekah, dan Ekonomi Moral di Jawa, Indonesia (Cultivaring Generosity: Islam, Giving, and the Moral Economy in Java, Indonesia).' Research Report, Jakarta. (Unpublished)

This list was generated on Sat Mar 28 00:37:14 2015 GMT.