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Research at St Andrews

Eleni Kotsira


Research overview

Doctoral project (now complete): Bursting out of Place: Island Life on Samothraki After the Deluge.

My doctoral thesis is the result of the first ethnographic research in Social Anthropology taking place on Samothraki, the northernmost island of Greece. Remote by location, Samothraki is populated by less than 3,000 residents in a surface area of 180km2 and a remarkable – for its circumference – altitude of 1,611m.

The thesis is preoccupied with a catastrophic rainfall that flooded extensive parts of the island overnight on 26 September 2017 and follows the recovery process until 31 December 2018, when my fieldwork was concluded. The extremity as well as the unprecedentedness of this natural disaster, made the recovery from it an emotional, environmental and administrative challenge, while it also exposed pre-existing perceptions of the islanders about their surrounding environment and their interaction with it. Through a comparative analysis of qualitative and quantitative data I collected, I relate these perceptions to the magnitude of the disaster and, furthermore, to the actions that were taken in its aftermath for both reconstruction and prevention of future such incidents. Yet, raising consensus among the islanders and paving the way forward, was subjected to the limitations of state administration and the inefficiencies of disaster management in Greece, as this can be also evidenced by natural disasters that hit other parts of the country during that period and which are brought into the discussion. Simultaneously, plans for the expansion of the tourist sector and further capitalisation on the island’s natural resources, pose as an imminent threat to a landscape that is already suffering from environmental degradation.

The deluge on Samothraki, then, becomes a case study about how island communities in Greece and, more broadly, in Europe can cope with extreme weather phenomena, occurring with increased frequency in the era of climate crisis, and how the subsequent states of emergency can be a potential advantage to restoring environmental balance.

Research interests include: environmental anthropology, climate change, anthropology of disasters, states of emergency, enforced movement, trauma, advocacy, body politics, literary anthropology and poetry. 


For the fulfilment of this project as well as my personal development alongside, I am grateful to the following:

- University of St Andrews Scholarship & Fieldwork Bursary, 2016 - 2019;

- Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities (SGSAH) funded Doctoral Internship with the Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA), January - June 2017;

- Europaeum funded EU Institutions in Brussels trip, October 2019;

- Gilchrist Educational Trust Travel Grant for academically outstanding students,  July 2018; 

- Presidents Fund by the Edinburgh Association of University Women, November 2019. 


  • Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (Recognition reference: PR126622. Date of recognition: 24/05/2017).

  • Public Engagement Portfolio (completed 20 August 2020).

Research website:   

Poetry blog:

Academic publications:


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