SOAS University of London

Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Dr Kostas Retsikas

BA (Athens), MA (Kent), PhD (Edinburgh)
  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Expertise
  • Publications


Kostas Retsikas
Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Reader in Social Anthropology

SOAS 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:
Academic Support Hours:
See bio for details
On Sabbatical:
Term 3 sabbatical


Office Hours
  • In person - Tuesday 2-4pm, drop in.
  • Online - please email for appointment.


Programmes Convened
Modules Taught
PhD Students supervised
  • Chenjia Xu,
  • Flora Hastings, Jews Becoming Public: Emergent Practices Within Casa Adret, a Jewish Cultural Centre in Barcelona
  • Hanming Cai, Identification in Contemporary Hong Kong: Ethnographic Exploration on the Politics of Cantopop and Its Lyrics


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.


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


Authored Books

Retsikas, Kostas (2020) A Synthesis of Time: Zakat, Islamic Micro-finance and the Question of the Future in 21st Century Indonesia. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

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


Retsikas, Kostas and Marsden, Magnus (2018) 'Alternate Modes of Prosperity'. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, (8) 3, pp 596-609.

Retsikas, Kostas (2018) 'Multiplication through Division: Time, Value, and Prosperity in Indonesia'. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, (8) 3, pp 656-671.

Sprenger, Guido and Gregory, Chris and Hahn, Hans Peter and Retsikas, Kostas (2017) 'Goods and Ethnicity: Trade and Bazaars in Laos from a Gift Perspective A Discussion'. Heidelberg Ethnology. 6, pp 1-31.

Retsikas, Kostas (2017) 'Value Transfers in South East Asia'. South East Asia Research, (25) 3, pp 217-233.

Retsikas, Kostas (2017) 'The Gift of Future Time: Islamic Welfare and Entrepreneurship in 21st century Indonesia'. South East Asia Research, (25) 3, pp 284-300.

Retsikas, Kostas (2016) 'The Other Side of the Gift: Soliciting in Java'. Heidelberg Ethnology, Occasional Paper 4.

Retsikas, Kostas (2015) 'The Promise: Islamic Micro-finance and the Synthesis of Time'. Deleuze Studies, (9) 4, pp 475-502.

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, pp 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.

Edited Books or Journals

Retsikas, Kostas and Marsden, Magnus, (eds.), (2018) HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory (Special Section) – Volume 8, Issue 3 (Winter 2018): Invisible Hands of Life: Alternate Modes of Prosperity. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Retsikas, Kostas, (ed.), (2017) South East Asia Research - Volume 25, Issue 3 (Sep 2017): Value Transfers in Southeast Asia: Religion, Charity and Subjectivity in an era of Neoliberal Reform. London: SAGE.

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, Magnus and Retsikas, Kostas, (eds.), Articulating Islam: Anthropological Approaches to Muslim Worlds. Dordecht: Springer, pp 119-138.

Marsden, Magnus and Retsikas, Kostas (2012) 'Introduction: Articulating Islam'. Articulating Islam: Anthropological Approaches to Muslim Worlds. Dordecht: Springer.

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.

Book Reviews

Retsikas, Kostas (2019) 'Review of "Islam, state and society in Indonesia: local politics in Madura" by Yanwar Pribadi'. South East Asia Research, (27) 3, pp 307-308.

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 (2018) 'Janji: Keuangan Mikro Islami dan Sintesis Waktu'. [Unpublished]

Retsikas, Kostas (2018) 'Rekonseptualisasi Zakat di Indonesia: Ibadah, Filantropi dan Hak'. [Unpublished]

Retsikas, Kostas (2018) 'Karunia di Masa Depan: Kesejahteraan dan Kewirausahaan Islam di Indonesia pada abad ke-21'. [Unpublished]

Retsikas, Kostas (2018) 'Sisi Lain Zakat: Permintaan (Soliciting) di Jawa'. [Unpublished]

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


This list was last generated on Monday, 23rd May 2022, 02:49 Europe/London.