Elizabeth A. Davis

Associate Professor
On sabbatical during fall semester 2021
(609) 258-8864
Email Address: 
Office Location: 
122 Aaron Burr Hall

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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 United States; 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 is presently completing two books (forthcoming from Duke University Press) based on her long-term ethnographic and archival research in Cyprus: Artifactual: Forensic and Documentary Sense in Cyprus, addressing public secrecy and knowledge projects about the violence of the 1960s-70s that led to the enduring division of the island, including forensic investigations and visual archives; and The Time of the Cannibals: On Conspiracy and Context, addressing “conspiracy theory” and presidential power in Cyprus, the United States, and other locales.

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 served on the Executive Board of the Modern Greek Studies Association from 2008-11 and as Associate Editor for Social Sciences at the Journal of Modern Greek Studies from 2012-2019. At Princeton, she is affiliated with the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies and serves on the Hellenic Studies Program Executive Committee. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities (IHUM) and a Faculty Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts. She is also a Member of Princeton’s Institutional Review Board and a Faculty Associate of the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS).

Before joining the Princeton faculty in 2009, Davis taught in the Department of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University and at Columbia University as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows. More recently, she has held a Richard Stockton Bicentennial Preceptorship (2012-15) and a Behrman Faculty Fellowship in the Humanities at Princeton University (2015-17), as well as Membership in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton (2013-14). In 2017-18, she was an ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Fellow in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton.

Recent Publications 

Publications List: 
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.