Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Dr Kostas Retsikas

Key information

Department of Anthropology and Sociology Reader in Social Anthropology Academic Staff, Centre of South East Asian Studies Doctoral School Director Food Studies Centre Member, SOAS Food Studies Centre Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies Member
BA (Athens), MA (Kent), PhD (Edinburgh)
Russell Square: College Buildings
Email address
Telephone number
020 7898 4432
Support hours
Thursdays 1:00pm - 3:00pm

Research interests

My work focuses on theoretical concerns which I explore both through ethnographic materials and engagements with post-structuralist philosophy.

The ethnographic materials are produced through field research in Java, Indonesia. My first fieldwork was conducted in the provincial town of Probolinggo in East Java in the late 1990s, with the project culminating in a monograph on the theme of personhood. Taking inspiration from the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, the monograph advances 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.

My second major field research was conducted in Surabaya and Jakarta in the early 2010s and was concerned with Islamic economics as a field of practice, especially as it pertains to zakat, the annual ritual of wealth transfer, and Islamic micro-finance. The project resulted in a monograph which explores the social foundations of contemporary Islamic practices that strive to encompass the economic within an expanded domain of divine worship and elucidates the effects such encompassment has on time, its fissure and synthesis. In order to elaborate on the question of time, the book looks beyond anthropology and Islamic studies, engaging with the post-structuralist of G. Deleuze, M. Foucault and J. Derrida, three of the most important figures of the temporal turn in contemporary philosophy.

The significance practices of value creation and transfer have for the constitution of the social has been explored in two edited collections. Both collections start with highlighting limits inherent in political economy approaches, suggesting ways of going beyond them. At the heart of such preoccupations is a critique of contractarian conceptions of the social and associated processes of what Foucault calls governmentality. The critique itself rises from a Nietzschean perspective stressing practices of trans-valuation, themselves involving re-generative processes of excess production and forceful acts of solicitation.

PhD Supervision

Name Title
Hanming Cai Identification in Contemporary Hong Kong: Ethnographic Exploration on the Politics of Cantopop and Its Lyrics
Flora Hastings Occupied Orchards and Public Plant Rituals in Barcelona: An Ethnography of Shifting Relations to the Natural World and Spatial Re-Appropriations of the City
Dr Chenjia Xu


Contact Konstantinos