In this Center for Global Asia lecture, Professor Patricia Spyer will explore the problem of figuration and disfiguration within the orphaned landscapes of Indonesia that emerged in the wake of the demise of the Suharto regime. What most defined this situation was rampant uncertainty and a sense of a “loosening at the center" (Kusno 2010). Against this background Professor Spyer will focus on several instances where Christians in the Malukan city of Ambon aimed to secure and configure place within the violent disfiguring conditions of a conflict between Muslims and Christians in the early 2000s. Theoretically, her point of departure is a crisis of appearances afflicting subjects and objects where displacement, a lack of trust in the forms of the everyday, and a war torn urban environment compelled fraught refigurings of the urban life world. Central to this presentation is the understanding that appearances, so often unacknowledged or taken as the manifestation of something more fundamental, are the crucible where the constitution and recreation of commonly accepted realities occur. Calling attention to the momentous significance of the work on appearances and the particular challenges such work faces today—not only in Indonesia--is, in sum, a main concern of this presentation.
Patricia Spyer is Professor of Anthropology at The Graduate Institute Geneva that she joined in 2016. She was the Chair of Cultural Anthropology of Contemporary Indonesia at Leiden University (2001-15), Global Distinguished Professor at New York University’s Center for Religion & Media and Department of Anthropology (2009-12), and a Visiting Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre of the Australian National University in 2014. She is the author of The Memory of Trade: Modernity’s Entanglements on an Eastern Indonesian Island, Duke 2000, editor of Border Fetishisms: Material Objects in Unstable Spaces, Routledge 1998, co-editor of the Handbook of Material Culture, Sage 2013  and of Images That Move, SAR Press, 2013. She has published, among other topics, on media and visual culture, materiality, violence, and religion. Her current book project Orphaned Landscapes: Violence, Visuality, and the Work of Appearances in Post-Authoritarian Indonesia focuses on the mediations of violence and post-violence in the religiously inflected conflict in the Moluccas, Indonesia. She is on the board of the Prince Claus Fund, a member of the Advisory Council of the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and an editorial board member of the Annual Review of Anthropology.
Introduction and moderation of the Q&A by Associate Professor Francesca Tarocco.
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