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Dr Maurice Said

Honorary Fellow

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Honorary Fellow in the Department of Anthropology  


I received my BA (2005) and MA (2010) degrees in Anthropology from the University of Malta and my PhD in Socio-cultural Anthropology from Durham University (2015). I have been involved in field research in southern Sri Lanka since 2005. My field research in Sri Lanka focusing primarily on post-disaster recovery and development, as well as on political factionalism and the political economy of the southern coastal region, with a specific focus on tourism and small-scale fishing communities.

Whilst living and working in Sri Lanka between 2005 and 2008, I was surprised at the elevated and widespread rate of suicide and, in particular, incidents of self-harm. This observation led to further research into this phenomenon as a way of understanding factional conflict in southern Sri Lanka, where such incidents served in many cases, as acts of protest and resistance against an increasingly restrictive family and political environment, at the village level. This work offered further insights into the longer term consequences of discriminatory post-disaster (here, specifically post-tsunami) practices involving housing schemes and land distribution, including the concomitant rivalry over access to the latter.

In addition to my work in South Asia, I have also conducted research into disaster preparedness and crisis-response across numerous contexts in mainland Europe and the Mediterranean region, particularly cross-border crises and sudden-onset urban disasters. In this regard, I have conducted research and have been WP leader on numerous FP-7 and Horizon2020 projects, including FORTRESS (Foresight Tools for Responding to cascading effects in a crisis), DANTE (Detecting and ANalysing TErrorist-related online contents and financing activities), SIRIUS (Sustainable Irrigation water management and River-basin governance: Implementing User-driven Services), EuroBroadMap, among others. Between 2010 and early 2013 I was involved in field research dealing with Somali asylum seekers’ experiences in Malta and their perceptions of Europe more broadly. Similarly, in Sri Lanka I have worked extensively with displaced persons in post-disaster contexts and have conducted research into transnational labour migration (2006, 2008, 2010, 2012-2013), with extended field visits to Sri Lankan Tamil refugee camps in Tamil Nadu, India (2008, 2010).

My engagement with disaster-related research and consultancy work with various NGOs, humanitarian organisations and think tanks, has informed much of my teaching approach. In this regard, I have been teaching on topics related to Anthropology, Humanitarian Action and development since 2016 (NOHA: Network on Humanitarian Action). In this sense, my teaching approach adopts an interdisciplinary focus that seeks to interrogate the interaction between grass-root and institutional discourses.

My more recent research focuses on the far-right in Malta and contentious urban developments and tensions between private/public interests over land in both Malta and Sri Lanka.

Research groups


Book review

Conference Paper

  • Said, M (2013), Suicide and Agency: transforming social relations, Suicide in Sri Lanka: Past, Present, and Future Transformations. Colombo, Sri Lanka, Colombo.
  • Said, M (2013), Social identity and self-representation in colonial and post-colonial Sri Lanka, IUAES 2013. Manchester, England, Manchester.
  • Said, M (2012), Passing the Buck: Suicide, Shame and the Shifting of Status in southern Sri Lanka¬, ASA 12: Arts and aesthetics in a globalising world. Delhi, India, Delhi.
  • Said, M (2012), Redefining Space through Aid: An Analysis of Development as a Tool for Elite Mobility in southern Sri Lanka, ECSAS2012: 22nd European conference on South Asian studies. Lisbon, Portugal, Lisbon.
  • Said, M (2011), Migration and Integration: Changing Perceptions of Europe from Without to Within, International colloquium: Europe seen from here and elsewhere. Rouen, France, Rouen.

Journal Article


  • Said, M (2013), Who’s Aid?: discourses of giving and receiving in a post-disaster scenario, MA course in Humanitarian Action. University of Malta.
  • Said, M (2013), Transforming place through elite appropriation of aid in post-tsunami southern Sri Lanka, MA course in Humanitarian action. University of Malta.
  • Said, M. (2013), Networks of dependency: suicide and shame in southern Sri Lanka, WIPSS (work in progress in the social sciences). University of Malta.