Staff profile

Dr Maria Photiou

Researcher (Art and Visual Culture)


Art and Design, Research


Innovation and Research

Research centre

Identity, Culture and Representation Research Centre




Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



My current research focuses on exploring art and migration from feminist and decolonial perspectives, with a special focus on the Middle East. I am co-editor of the anthology ‘Art, Borders and Belonging: On Home and Migration’ (Bloomsbury 2021). I organised the 2022 international online Symposium titled 'Creative Homemaking: Visualising Home in Times of Crisis', which was funded by the UoD’s Participatory Fund. I am currently convening the panel Exploring gender-based violence in feminist art’ for the 2024 Association for Art History’s Annual Conference.

I oversee the development, delivery, and evaluation of the PGR development programme. This is a rich schedule of training and events for PGR students from all Colleges. The programme includes the PGR training, PGR Cafes, PGR Writing Retreats, annual PGR Conference, peer-led workshops, PGR Socials, Images of Research, 3 Minute Thesis Competition, and the EMDoc Conference.

I joined the University of Derby in 2016, having previously worked at Loughborough University as an Associate Lecturer in Critical and Historical Studies. In 2013 I was an AHRC Cultural Engagement Research Fellow at Loughborough University where I developed the funded project Visual Narratives of Homeland.

Teaching responsibilities

PGR Student Supervision

Sarah Phillips (Director of Studies)

I welcome PGR candidates whose research projects fall within my areas of expertise, including, but not limited, on: 

Professional interests

Research interests

My research is currently focusing on two key areas:

Revisiting art histories from a feminist perspective

I initially explored these issues in my doctoral thesis, ‘Rethinking the History of Cypriot Art: Greek Cypriot Women Artists in Cyprus’, where I provided a critical analysis of women’s art and presented different perspectives in acknowledging women’s contribution in art history. My work has impacted international conversations that explore similar perspectives on equity, belonging and social justice. For example, my work was cited by researchers who explored the ‘absent’ history of women artists in the male-dominated art histories of Iran.

Investigating Art and Migration from feminist and decolonial perspectives

In my research I explore how contemporary art practices engage with the concepts of ‘home’, ‘migration’ and the sense of ‘belonging’. My current research explores the work of exiled women artists and their experience of forced displacement, citizenship, identity and belonging. I examine artistic practices that are located within different histories of exile but share common concerns with the site of the home of origin that refugees have been forcefully displaced from. I explored these issues in my postdoctoral research project ‘Narratives of Contested Lands’, which was funded by an AHRC Cultural Engagement Fund. This was a collaborative project with the International Network Project ‘Lens of Empowerment’.

In 2017, I convened and chaired the session ‘Home, Exile and the Politics of Belonging’ at the Association for Art History Annual (AAH) Conference.  This led to the volume ‘Art, Borders and Belonging: On Home and Migration’

In 2022, I convened and chaired the international virtual Symposium ‘Creative Homemaking: Visualising Home in Times of Crisis’, which was funded by the UoD’s Participatory Fund. This led to the co-authorship of a text with artist Lia Lapithi (upcoming with Bloomsbury Visual Arts).

I am a reviewer of book proposals for Bloomsbury, Routledge, and Manchester University Press. 

I am co-leading the Places and Spaces Research Cluster. 

Membership of professional bodies


Recent conferences

10/2023 ‘Art Representing War and Crisis: Exploring Themes and Experiences’, Conference Understanding Displacement in Visual Art and Cultural History: 1945 to Now, University of Manchester.

11/2022 ‘Re-claiming the Lost Home: The Politics of Nostalgia and Belonging in Women’s Art Practices in the Middle East’, Conference Hitting Home: Representations of the Domestic Milieu in Feminist Art, University of Johannesburg, South Africa.

04/2022: Invited Guest Lecturer ‘Mapping the Border: Women Artists’ Reconceptions of Space, Gender and Representation', The University of Hong Kong.

11/2021: ‘Sailing to my Nearest Neighbours for Cocktails: Reflections on Homemaking During a Pandemic’, Home and Covid-19: Dwelling and Belonging in Pandemic Times Online Symposium, The Museum of Home, London.

07/2021 'Placemaking and Artistic Practices of Embodiment in a Divided City', Civic LAB Online Symposium, University of Derby.

04/2021 'Strolling Along the Green Line: Exploring Narratives of Exile, Identity and Belonging Within a Divided Capital',  Exiled and Female: Visualising Identity in the Work of Women Artists panel at the Association for Art History 2021 Online Annual Conference.

04/2019 ‘Weaving Together: Narratives of Home, Exile and Belonging’, Diasporic Imaginaries. Multiple Senses of Belonging, DFK Paris.

04/2018 ‘Weaving in Exile: Exploring Narratives of Migration and Loss’, Textile and Place Conference, Manchester Metropolitan University.

11/2017 ‘There will be no Homecoming: Visual Narratives of Home, Exile and Belonging’, Conflict and/or (Be)longing: Thinking with Stories and Images, University of Lisbon.

02/2017Home, Exile and the Politics of Belonging’, AAH (Association for Art History) 43rd Annual Conference, Loughborough University.

12/2014 ‘Photographic Practices of Homeland: Re-presentations of Home, Location and Identity’, 3rd International Conference of Photography and Theory, Cyprus.

09/2014 ‘Be/come Closer to Home’, Trans-Figurations: Feminism, Art and Global Futures Symposium, New Walk Museum & Art Gallery, Leicester.

02/2011 ‘Reviving Koukkoumara Tradition through Self-Expression: The Greek Cypriot artist Nina Iacovou and her Female Figure Vessels’, CAA (College Art Association) 99th Annual Conference, New York.

Other Conferences  

06/2021 Photiou M, Radford N, Lynch T.P ‘Supporting Community Belonging and Building Sustained Cohort Identity Among PGR Students’, UKCGE Annual Conference. 

Additional interests and activities

Research funding and awards

2022: ‘Women and Domestic Violence: What has changed’

Participatory Research Fund, University of Derby 

April 2022 to July 2022

2021-2022: ‘Creative Homemaking: Visualising Home in Times of Crisis’

Participatory Research Fund, University of Derby 

September 2021 to March 2022

2012-2013: ‘Narratives of Contested Lands’ postdoctoral project  

Awarded by AHRC Cultural Engagement Fund (Loughborough University) 

February 2013 to May 2013 

2008-2012: PhD scholarship awarded by Loughborough University


Selected knowledge exchange projects

 11/2022: Mush(Rooms): Home, Resilience, and Community, co-created project with Derby Museums that was part of the 2022 Being Human Festival, a free nationwide festival showcasing humanities research to a wider audience.

07/2022: ‘'On the move with Felix Nussbaum', Guest speaker at Artcore Gallery Derby.

06/2022:Women and Domestic Violence: What has changed’, Screening and Panel Discussion at Quad, Derby.

04/2022: Online Symposium Creative Homemaking: Visualising Home in Times of Crisis, University of Derby.

In the media

Panel discussion ‘Palestine In Focus: Forced Migration and The Arts' available on Youtube, August 2023

I was invited by CivicLeicester to be a speaker at the panel discussion 'Palestine In Focus: Forced Migration and The Arts'.

In my contribution I contextualised Palestinian women's artistic work outside of Palestine. Specifically I talked about the work of Emily Jacir that I analysed in my edited volume Art, Borders and Belonging: On Home and Migration.


Histories of bahces - Where are the Women in Cypriot History? available on YouTube – ‘Where are the Women in Cypriot History’, November 2021 

I was invited by Histories of bahces (a group of young scholars in Cyprus who created an open space to discuss challenging questions in relation to Cyprus’s complicated history) to talk about Cypriot women artists and their position in the male-dominated art history. 


 HOMinG Seminar - Online Book Presentation and discussion of Art, Borders and Belonging: On Home and Migration available on YouTube, May 2021 

I was invited by the ERC project HOMinG (based at the University of Trento, Italy) to talk at their webinar series about my research and the book I co-edited. 

Recent publications


Art, Borders and Belonging: On Home and Migration (Bloomsbury, 2021) 

Chapters in Edited Collections 

'Sailing to my Nearest Neighbours for Lockdown Cocktails: Reflections on the Politics of Home and Homemaking during a Pandemic' in The Artist at Home: Studios, Practices and Identities, cowritten with artist Lia Lapithi (forthcoming in 2024 with Bloomsbury).

‘Weaving Together: Narratives of Home, Exile and Belonging’, in Art, Borders and Belonging: On Home and Migration, eds. Photiou M. and Meskimmon M. (Bloomsbury, 2021) 

‘Who Are We, Where Do We Come From, Where Are We Going To? Writing Greek Cypriot Women’s Art Histories in Contemporary Cyprus’, in Contemporary Art in Cyprus: Politics, Identity and Culture across Borders, eds. Gabriel Koureas, Elena Stylianou and Evi Tselika (Bloomsbury, 2021) 

'National Identity and the Politics of Belonging in Greek Cypriot Visual Culture', in Flags, Color, and the Legal Narrative, eds. Anne Wagner and Sarah Marusek (Springer, 2021)

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles 

Photiou, M. (forthcoming) 'Re-claiming the lost home: The politics of nostalgia and belonging in women's art practices in the Middle East' in Image & Text.

Photiou, M. (2020) 'Gendered Narratives in Adamantios Diamantis' The World of Cyprus', Vol. 32 No. 1 (2020): The Cyprus Review, Volume 32, Issue 1 (Spring 2020)

Photiou, M. (2018) ‘Let’s Talk About Peace Over Dinner: A Cultural Experience on Memory, Dislocation and the Politics of Belonging in Cyprus’, in Crossings: Journal of Migration and Culture, Volume 8, Number 2, 1 October 2017, pp. 175-189

Photiou, M. (2016) ‘Be/come Closer to Home: Narratives of Contested Lands in the Visual Practices of Katerina Attalidou and Alexandra Handal’Third Text (Taylor & Francis), 29 (4-5), 340-355

Photiou, M. (2012) ‘Who Are We, Where Do We Come From, Where Are We Going To? Greek Cypriot Women Artists in Contemporary Cyprus’Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal (Taylor & Francis), vol. 41, pp. 941-958

Photiou,M. (2012) ‘The Green Line: Greek Cypriot Women Artists’ Politicised Practices – Lia Lapithi and Marianna Christofides’n.paradoxa, vol. 30 Feminist Aesthetics pp. 83-90