Elizabeth A. Davis

Associate Professor of Anthropology
Director of Graduate Studies
Vice-Chair, Institutional Review Board (IRB)
Office Phone
122 Aaron Burr Hall
Office Hours
Wednesday: 11:00 am-12:30 pm

PhD, University of California, Berkeley (Socio-Cultural Anthropology), 2005

MPhil, University of Cambridge (History and Philosophy of Architecture), 1998

BA summa cum laude, Harvard University (Social Anthropology), 1997


Greece, Cyprus, Turkey, Europe, the Mediterranean and the Levant; medicine and psychology, history and memory, ethics and subjectivity, film and visual culture, the state, social theory, science studies, museum studies, ethnographic writing and research methods.

Short Bio
Elizabeth Davis is Associate Professor of Anthropology. Her research and writing, grounded in the European horizons and the Ottoman history of the Greek-speaking world, focus on the intersections of psyche, body, history, and power. Her particular interest is in how the ties that bind people to communities and states are yielded and inflected by knowledge: that is, how expert and subaltern epistemologies mediate conceptions of self and others. Her first book, Bad Souls: Madness and Responsibility in Modern Greece (Duke University Press, 2012), is an ethnographic study of responsibility among psychiatric patients and their caregivers in the “multicultural” borderland between Greece and Turkey. She has also written two books based on long-term ethnographic and archival research in Cyprus. The first, Artifactual: Forensic and Documentary Knowing (forthcoming in 2023 from Duke University Press), addresses public secrecy and knowledge projects about the violence of the 1960s-70s that led to the enduring division of Cyprus, including forensic investigations of the missing, visual archives, and documentary film. The second, The Time of the Cannibals: On "Conspiracy Theory" and Context, takes Cyprus as a context for rethinking conspiracy theory and political theology.

Beyond these projects, Davis has written on economic crisis and suicide in Greece, and is currently studying Orthodox and heterodox death rituals and burial practices in monastic and worldly contexts of austerity. She is also working on a documentary film addressing the public life of sacred bones in Cyprus.

Davis was Associate Editor for Social Sciences at the Journal of Modern Greek Studies from 2012-2019, and is currently serving her second term on the Executive Board of the Modern Greek Studies Association. At Princeton, she is affiliated with the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies and serves on the Executive Committee of the Program in Hellenic Studies. She is a Member and Vice-Chair of Princeton’s Institutional Review Board (IRB), and currently serves as Acting Director of the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities (IHUM), where she is a long-standing member of the Core Faculty and Executive Committee. She is a Faculty Associate of the Center for Culture, Society and Religion, and she has been a Faculty Associate of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS) since 2011. In 2019-2021, she was a Faculty Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts.

Recent Publications

book cover


Selected Publications


2023  Artifactual: Forensic and Documentary Knowing. Durham: Duke University Press.

2012 Bad Souls: Madness and Responsibility in Modern Greece.  Durham: Duke University Press*
Winner of the 2013 Gregory Bateson Prize


2018 “Global Side Effects: Counter-Clinics in Mental Health Care,” Medical Anthropology 37(1): 1-16. Introduction to special issue, “Global Side Effects: Precarity, Responsibility, and Mental Health,” edited by Li Zhang and Elizabeth Davis
2015 “ ‘We’ve toiled without end’: Publicity, Crisis, and the Suicide ‘Epidemic’ in Greece,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 57(4):1007-1036
2013 "'It Wasn't Written for Me': Law, Debt, and Therapeutic Contracts in Greek Psychiatry,"  PoLAR (Political and Legal Anthropology Review) : 36(1):4–34
2010 “The Antisocial Profile: Deception and Intimacy in Greek Psychiatry,” Cultural Anthropology 25(1): 130-164

Book Chapters

2017 “Time Machines: The Matter of the Missing in Cyprus.” In Unfinished: The Anthropology of Becoming. João Biehl and Peter Locke, Eds. Duke University Press Pp 217-242
2017 “‘The Information Is Out There’: Transparency, Responsibility, and the Missing in Cyprus.” In Competing Responsibilities: The Ethics and Politics of Contemporary Life. Susanna Trnka and Catherine Trundle, Eds. Duke University Press. Pp 135-155
2014 “Archive, Evidence, Memory, Dream: Documentary Films on Cyprus.” In Cypriot Cinemas: Memory, Conflict and Identity in the Margins of Europe. Costas Constandinides and Yiannis Papadakis, Eds. London: Bloomsbury. Pp 31-59
2014 “The Problem of Culture: ‘Tradition’ and ‘Reform’ in Greek Psychiatry.” In Colonizing the Greek Mind? The Reception of Western Psychotherapeutics in Greece. Charles Stewart, Ed. Athens: DEREE–The American College of Greece. Pp 89-109