Dr. Forbess specialises in the anthropology of institutions - religious, political and third sector, in European settings. Her PhD thesis (London School of Economics, 2005) offered a longue durée analysis of how a Romanian convent was affected by political and economic transformations before, during and after socialism. Her work in the area of Christianity deals with charisma, mysticism, transgression and ethics in Eastern Orthodox contexts.
A British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship based at Goldsmiths, University of London, has funded further research which focused on the political lives of Serbian Orthodox monastics, and their attempt to 'stand in' for the retreating Serbian state within the political arenas of newly independent Montenegro and Kosovo. In the latter setting, she also documented the implementation, and unintended consequences, of a European Council-led restorative justice truth and reconciliation initiative for the rebuilding of Orthodox monasteries destroyed in post-war revenge attacks.
This has informed further work in collaboration with Professor Deborah James, on access to justice within the United Kingdom. The project documented comparatively the efforts of two non-profit legal services providers (a law centre and a charity) to cope with increasingly radical cuts to legal aid funding for the provision of free legal advice in social welfare law cases (social security, immigration, employment). Funded by LSE STICERD and Research Committee Seed Fund grants, this work has yielded both academic and applied outputs, including a set of policy recommendations presented to the House of Lords ahead of the debate on the 2012 Legal Aid bill. One of the subsequent amendments to the bill reflected some of these recommendations.
(Under Consideration) Paradox and paradigm: knowledge, inspiration and moral reasoning among Orthodox Christian monastics In Bandak, A. and L. Højer eds. The Power of Example. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute Special Thematic Issue.
(Under review) Acts of Assistance: Navigating the Interstices of the British State with the Help of Non-Profit Legal Advisers. In Thelen, T., K. v Benda-Beckmann and L. Vetters eds., Stategraphy: Relating state transformation and social security. Social Analysis, Special Thematic Issue.
(Under Review) With Lucia Michelutti. Introduction to 'From the Mouth of God: Divine Kinship in XXI Century ‘Vernacular Democracies' Thematic section. In Focaal. Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology.
(Forthcoming) Montenegro versus Crna Gora. The rival hagiographic genealogies of the new Montenegrin polity. In Focaal. Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology.
(2010) The Spirit and the Letter: Monastic Education in a Romanian Orthodox Convent. In Eastern Christians in Anthropological Perspective (eds) Hann, C. & H. Golz, 131-157. Berkeley: University of California Press.
(2009) A Spiritual Amusement Village: Manufacturing Difference in the Wallachian Countryside. In Twenty Years after the Fall of Atheism: The Contemporary Romanian Religious Landscape (eds) Voicu, M., Foszto, L & S. Gog, 79-98. Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai Sociologia Special Issue (2).