Dr Teodor Zidaru

Dr Teodor Zidaru

LSE Fellow

Department of Anthropology

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English, Romanian, Swahili
Key Expertise
Kenya; East Africa; UK

About me

Teo specialises in the anthropology of East Africa and has conducted ethnographic research in the Gusii highlands of Southwest Kenya. Based on 24 months of fieldwork, Teo’s primary research project focuses on questions of trust at the interface of religion and political-economy. His thesis, titled Phantom trust: faith, language, and inequality in Southwest Kenya, debunked popular and social scientific perceptions about a lack of trust in Kenyan social life. By contrast, the thesis explored what grand narratives of trust and social change do in everyday life as forms of social action in their own right. The core finding was that Kenyans from different walks of life entwine narratives of trust with different conceptions of the sacred and a language of religious faith to negotiate the terms of trust anew in unequal and hierarchical relationships. While an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow at LSE, Teo started revising his thesis into a monograph on mutual aid or informal, self-organised forms of welfare and economic arrangements which straddle domestic economies, formal microfinance, and state-citizen relations.

Teo’s postdoctoral work includes policy-oriented research on post-Covid networks of care in the UK, as well as on digital mental health care in Global North contexts. In addition, Teo has been researching how anthropology can best strengthen social scientific engagements with data science. He is interested not just in the way ordinary people live with data, but also in the way data science literacy constitutes communities of practice that reshape global knowledge economies and precipitate novel understandings of what humans can or cannot entrust to technology.

Since 2018, Teo has taught a range of core and specialist courses, from anthropological theory and the history of anthropology to ethnographic methods and the anthropologies of religion, dreams, and law. His teaching interests include the anthropologies of trust, emotion, technology, and sub-Saharan Africa. Alongside a PhD in Anthropology from the LSE, Teo holds a BSc (Hons) and an MRes in Anthropology from University College London. His doctoral and postdoctoral research has been funded by the ESRC and the NHS.

Expertise Details

Trust; emotion; religion; welfare; microfinance and financial inclusion; redistributive politics; patronage and the state; linguistic and economic anthropology; the anthropology of technology; big data and machine-learning

Selected publications

Peer reviewed

2023. ‘Artificial intelligence technologies and compassion in healthcare: A systematic scoping review’. Frontiers in Psychology. 13:971044. 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.971044 

2022. (with Dr Leo Hopkinson) ‘What competition does: An anthropological theory’. Social Analysis. 66 (4): 1-25. 10.3167/sa.2022.660401

2021. (with Elizabeth M Morrow and Rich Stockley) ‘Ensuring Patient and Public Involvement in the transition to AI-assisted mental health care: a systematic scoping review and agenda for design justice’. Health Expectations 24 (4): 1072-1124; https://doi.org/10.1111/hex.13299

2021. (with COVID and Care Research Group, LSE Anthropology) ‘“Good” and “bad” deaths during the Covid-19 pandemic: insights from a rapid qualitative study’. BMJ Global Health 6 (6). http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2021-005509

2019. ‘The anti-help: accusations, mutual help, and the containment of ugly feelings in the Gusii Highlands, Kenya’. Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 37 (2): 21-38. https://doi.org/10.3167/cja.2019.370203

Reports and blog posts

2021. (with Laura Bear) ‘Dialogues on Artificial Intelligence’. Allegra Laboratory (blog). 12 February 2021. https://allegralaboratory.net/dialogues-on-artificial-intelligence/.

2020. (with COVID and Care Research Group, LSE Anthropology) ‘“A good death” during the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK: a report on key findings and recommendations’.

2020. (with COVID and Care Research Group, LSE Anthropology) ‘A right to care: the social foundations of recovery from Covid-19’.