Sunday, March 25, 2012

Peter Loizos obituary

Peter Loizos obituary

The distinguished anthropologist and documentary film-maker Peter Loizos has died aged 74. Peter established his international reputation with his accessible and deeply moving book The Heart Grown Bitter: A Chronicle of Cypriot War Refugees (1981), which anticipated the personal turn in anthropological writing.

He was born Peter Papaloizou in London. His English mother and Cypriot father separated when he was two. An only child of a single mother, he grew up in England with a Greek surname yet not knowing a word of Greek. Peter won a scholarship to Dulwich College, graduated with a first in English literature from Cambridge University and then simplified his surname to Loizos.

The death of his mother impelled him to seek out his father, whom he had only met on two occasions before adulthood. That encounter precipitated a journey, in 1966, to his father's village of Argaki, where he discovered scores of relatives waiting to meet him, causing him to realise the truth of the Cypriot proverb "Whoever has a tree, has shade."

He returned to Argaki to conduct doctoral field research and was then appointed to a lectureship in anthropology at the London School of Economics, where he spent his entire career. No sooner did Peter publish his first book about Argaki than a war between Turkey and Cyprus led to the partition of the island, making the villagers refugees. His film Sophia and Her People (1985) captured Sophia kneading the dough for her bakery while singing wistfully about the verandah of her lost home.

Peter married Gill Shepherd in 1975 and his involvement in development work increased. They spent six months together in Sudan in 1982, laying the groundwork for the opening of an Oxfam office in Khartoum.

After retiring, Peter was attached to the department of international development at the LSE; the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, where he taught film; and the Refugee Studies Centre in Oxford. He also held a part-time professorship at Intercollege in Nicosia.

He conducted a study of how forced migration affects long-term health, and his last book, Iron in the Soul (2008), was a study of life expectancy. It returned to the theme of his first ethnographic film, Life Chances (1974), which explored the fate of four different strands of his Argaki family before the 1974 war.

Peter is survived by Gill; his children, Helena, Daniel and Hannah; and his granddaughter Margaret.

Stewart, Charles. 2012. "Peter Loizos obituary". The Guardian. Posted: March 20, 2012. Available online:

No comments: