Meet our new Associate Professor

Theo Rakopoulos has arrived at SAI, bringing new perspectives and knowledge to the Department.

Theo Rakopoulos (36) is of Greek and Cypriot origin, with a degree in Law from Greece and an MA in Politics from Goldsmiths, UK.

- I got my PhD in January 2013 from Goldsmiths Anthropology Department, working with Victoria Goddard and David Graeber. My thesis; “From Clans to Co-ops: Confiscated Mafia Land in Sicily, is being published as a book by Berghahn. It is based on fieldwork in a valley of Western Sicily, where land of Cosa Nostra has been confiscated, and then bestowed by the state to agrarian cooperatives.  

Solidarity economy in Greece

Rakopoulos is interested in questions of cooperativism and its contradictions, concerning labour, land management and moralities. He has explored cooperative labour in food production, co-ops in Sicily’s anti-mafia movement and food distribution groups amidst the solidarity economy of Greece, while he has worked with the concept of “solidarity” in its own right as well.

- I am looking at the interstices of spheres in what is conventionally seen as economic life – including how the household is expanding to accommodate cooperative work, how welfare could be associated with the informal economy, how neighbourhood between foes can nurture pragmatic cooperation. I maintain an interest in economic and political anthropology, informed by political economy, anthropological theory of kinship, and an attention to history and the temporalities of seemingly linear processes. Finally, I have recently maintained an interest in anthropological caveats regarding silence, conspiracy theory and fiction – as well as the anthropology of wealth, and the anthropology of austerity.

South Africa and Bergen

Before Rakopoulos joined SAI, he worked as a post-doctoral fellow in two international research projects. Between early 2013 and late 2014, in the Human Economy Programme, based in the University of Pretoria and led by Keith Hart.

He says that living in South Africa for two years as well as coming to everyday contact with Africanist scholars has been a rewarding experience. After South Africa, he travelled north to work in the Egalitarianism ERC project based at the University of Bergen and led by Bruce Kapferer.

- That project also broadened my horizons and allowed me to prolonged fieldwork in Greece as well. Working alongside Keith and Bruce has been tremendously fulfilling.

What is mafia?

Rakopoulos has settled in at UiO, and will continue to work with subjects such as capitalism, mafia and political anthropology.

- I am working towards the conceptualization of ethical capitalism beyond questions of CSR; I also currently examine issues pertaining to silence and the ethnographic uncertainties and fissures it entails. I plan to write on the complex methodologies of “membership-based fieldwork”, wherein questions of democracy (and its exclusions) present us with a need to review our political anthropology.

He believes in cooperation in academic writing and editing, and thus he is involved in collaborative schemes.

- I am preparing two collections on “austerity” (one co-edited) – seen as coarticulated with structural adjustment.  My interest in mafia is expanding, currently in a co-edited volume on “what do we talk about when we talk about the mafia”, a play with Carver’s slippery but exciting conceptualization. Speaking of authors, a future pursuit is exploring the intersections of ethnographic and fictional writing, including the meanings of poetry in eliciting ethnographic understandings. I also participate in reading groups at SAI on capitalism and on dependency.



Published July 10, 2017 11:29 AM - Last modified July 12, 2017 10:41 AM