Maria Kastrinou



Anchored in political anthropology, my research focuses on sectarian politics and national belonging, religion, state, conflict and energy in the Middle East and South-Eastern Mediterranean. For my PhD, I conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork research in Syria (2008–2011) looking at contested identities and politics between the Druze sect and the Syrian state. In response to the ongoing war in Syria, my research has incorporated political economy and historical approaches in ongoing projects on the politics of energy and resource conflict in Syria and Lebanon (Durham Energy Institute 2013-2014; AHRC/ESRC Conflict grant 2016-2017), as well as new fieldwork with Syrian refugees in Greece and stateless Syrians in the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights (BRIEF Award 2015-ongoing).


BA (Hons) Anthropology (Durham)

PhD Anthropology (Durham)

Research area(s)

Sectarianism, nationalism and minorities;

The State, authoritarianism and statelessness;

Islam and Druze religion;

Syrian War, refugees in Greece and in Europe;

The social politics of energy and electricity, post-conflict reconciliation and development;

Ethnographic methods in Middle Eastern contexts

Membership and affiliation

European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA)

British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES)

Centre for British Research in the Levant (CBRL), British Academy

Syria Studies Association (SSA)

International Union for Anthropological and Ethnological Studies (IUAES)

Centre for Syrian Studies, St Andrews University — Affiliated Scholar


Research project(s) and grant(s)

Following the wires: sensing socio-material practices of everyday electricity supply in post-conflict Greater Beirut (with Dan Rugo (PI) and Dana Abi-Ghanem, AHRC/ESRC Conflict call, GBP 96,711, 2016–2017)

Through the evocative power of video this research project follows the wires that crosscut the skyline and buildings of Beirut's neighbourhoods. In visually doing so, the project will ground the electricity cables along the lives of the persons and families it connects. By telling the story of the electricity infrastructure and the everyday responses to its failures the project aims to make sense of the lived and material legacy of the conflict. Emphasising the importance of basic infrastructures, the project uses the synthetic power of video, together with ethnographic and sociological accounts, to show through the voices and buildings of Beirut how conflicts shape cities and change how people live and make decisions.

Sect and Statelessness: The Politics of Energy in the Druze Golan Heights (Brunel Research Initiative & Enterprise Fund (BRIEF), GBP 14,723, 2015–16)

How do struggles over energy resources affect religious minorities and their allegiance to contemporary States in the Middle East? This question lies at the heart of ‘Sect and statelessness’ project, which will shed new light on the intersection of energy conflict, religious minorities’ formation, and State belonging by conducting research amongst Druze minorities in the Levant, with a special focus on the Druze community of the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

Collaborative research project(s)

Special Research Institute(s)

Institute of Future Energies

Transcultures-Survival research cluster member



  Module convenor
• Introduction to Social Anthropology (UG)
• Anthropology, Objects and Images (UG)
• Political and Economic Issues in Anthropology (UG + PG)
• Anthropological Perspectives on War and Humanitarian Assistance (UG + PG)

 Module contributor
• Ethnographic Encounters (PG)

Research supervision

Taghreed Elsanhouri: Dialogues of nationhood: Filming the Sudan partition (2015 — ongoing)

Selected Publications

Journal articles

Kastrinou, M.   (Accepted)   'The guests of Lesbos: Hospitality among Syrian refugees in Greece'. Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and DevelopmentDownload publication 

Rugo, D. , Weaver, A. , Abi Ghanem, D.  and Kastrinou, M.   (2017)   'Dark Beirut. The (in)visibility of electricity'. Jadaliyya. Arab Studies InstituteDownload publication 

Neocleous, MA.  and Kastrinou, M.   (2016)   'The EU Hotspot: Police War Against the Migrant'. Radical Philosophy: journal of socialist feminist philosophy. pp. 3 - 9. Download publication 

Kastrinou, AMA. , Ahmad, B. , Al-Habash, L.  and Ghanem, M.   (2015)   'Muslim women and violent protest: Syria'. Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures

Kastrinou, AMA.   (2014)   'Sect and House in Syria: History, Architecture, and Bayt Amongst the Druze in Jaramana'. History and Anthropology, 25 (3).  pp. 313 - 335. doi: 10.1080/02757206.2013.878713 Download publication 

Kastrinou, MA.   (2013)   'Printed Media and Popular Culture: Studies in Contemporary Folklore'. Folklore, 124 (1).  pp. 108 - 109. doi: 10.1080/0015587X.2013.737510 

Kastrinou Theodoropoulou, AM.   (2012)   'A Different Struggle for Syria: Becoming Young in the Middle East'. Mediterranean Politics, 17 (1).  pp. 59 - 76. doi: 10.1080/13629395.2012.655046 

Kastrinou Theodoropoulou, AMA.   (2011)   'Nikos Gatsos and the Greek Folk Tradition: A Hermeneutic Study'. Folklore, 122 (2).  pp. 218 - 220. doi: 10.1080/0015587X.2011.570524 

Kastrinou-Theodoropoulou, M.   (2009)   'Editorial Note: Political Anthropology and the Fabrics of Resistance'. Durham Anthropology Journal, 16 (2).  pp. 3 - 7. Download publication 

Kastrinou-Theodoropoulou, AMA.   (2009)   'Setting the Syrian Stage: A case study of Dance and Power'. Durham Anthropology Journal, 16 (1).  pp. 3 - 12. Download publication 

Kastrinou-Theodoropoulou, M.   (Accepted)   'Lawrence, Christopher M. 2008. Blood and Oranges: Immigrant Labor and European Markets in Rural Greece'. Durham Anthropology Journal, 16 (1).  pp. 76 - 77. Download publication 

Kastrinou-Theodoropoulou, M.   (2008)   'The Gift of the Code: A Culture of an Operating System'. Durham Anthropologicy Journal, 15 (1).  pp. 106 - 164. Download publication 


Kastrinou, AMA.   (2016) Power, sect and state in Syria: The politics of marriage and identity amongst the Druze. London:  I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd 

Book chapters

Kastrinou, M. (Accepted)   'From a window in Jaramana: Imperial sectarianism and the impact of war on a Druze neighbourhood in Syria', in Hinnebusch, R.  and Imady, O. (eds.) The Syrian Uprising 2011-2014: Roots and Trajectories.  Routledge (I)  Download publication 

Kastrinou, M.  and Layton, RH.  (2016)   'The politics of reincarnation, time and sovereignty: a comparative anthropological exploration of the Syrian Druze and the Australian Anangu', in Gledhill, J. (ed.) World Anthropologies in Practice: Situated Perspectives, Global Knowledge.  London Bloomsbury Academic Publishing pp. 227 - 252. 

Conference papers

Kastrinou, M.   (2015)   '‘Either we'll survive the sea or we'll die:' Syrian refugees in Lesbos, Greece' , Refuge from Syria. Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford University. 9 - 9 December. [unpublished].  

Scholarly Editions

Abi Ghanem, D. , Rugo, D.  and Kastrinou, M.   (2016) Power Cuts and Development: Following the Wires in Post-war Beirut.   

Rugo, D. , Kastrinou, M.  and Abi Ghanem, D.   (2016) Following the Wires: Conflict and Power Outages in Beirut.   

Kastrinou, M.   (2015) Why the Middle East’s warring enemies are competing to win over the Druze.  The Conversation 

Kastrinou-Theodoropoulou, M.   (2011) The Marriage of Cadmus and Harmony and the Burial of the Martyrs: Syrian Dances in the Arab Spring.  Jadaliyya 

Kastrinou, M.   (2010) Theatre of the not-so-absurd: Cooking as unfolding.   

Theses / Dissertations

Kastrinou, M.   (2012)  Intimate Bodies, Violent Struggles: The poetics and politics of nuptiality in Syria.  PhD Thesis.

Page last updated: Tuesday 06 December 2016