Professor Dimitrios Theodossopoulos is a social anthropologist at the University of Kent interested in anti-austerity politics, resistance, populism, authenticity, indigenous representation and exoticism. His engagement with these topics brings forward invisible local perspectives, is ethnographically inspired and attempts to reconfigure social theory from the grassroots.

Dimitrios is also interested in creative ethnographic mediums, such as ‘graphic ethnography’, a new visual subfield that relies on sketches, drawings, photography and cartoons – not merely to illustrate – but, more importantly, to generate social analysis. His experimentation with graphic anthropology has led him to the theoretical reconsideration of the role of the author in the production of ethnography.

A Vision for Emberá Tourism:
Graphic Art in the Service of Publicly Engaged Ethnography

“The graphic strip presented here was prepared originally in Spanish and used to disseminate insights from anthropological research on the Emberá—an indigenous group—to the Emberá themselves. The anthropologist—Professor Theodossopoulos, University of Kent—distributed printed copies of the graphic among the Emberá of Chagres National Park, Panama.

Although most Emberá dislike reading long texts, they responded to the graphic medium enthusiastically. They engaged with the message—that it is possible to de-exotise indigenous tourism—sharing experiences of previous stereotyping they have received by international visitors. New ideas about how to battle primitivism in indigenous representation emerged. Graphic ethnography can make such immediate and creative interventions!  

We would like to bring to your attention that the Emberá at Chagres live in a National Park and they are prohibited from practicing traditional subsistence activities—e.g. hunting, horticulture. The COVID19 pandemic has deprived them of their main income. Most local families are experiencing hardship at this very moment.

The English version of this graphic was published in Entanglements 2 (2), 7-26, 2019.  Ideas for the graphic originated from an anthropological monograph Exoticisation Undresssed (Manchester University Press, 2016).