11 May, 2015: Patricia Spyer (Leiden University)
Title: Orphaned Landscapes: Figurations and Disfigurations of Place in Precarious Times
15:30-17:00h, Room 5.A41, Pieter de la Court building.
Prof. dr. Patricia Spyer holds the Chair of Cultural Anthropology of Contemporary Indonesia since 2001 at the institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology of Leiden University. Educated in the Netherlands and United States, she obtained her PhD in Anthropology at the University of Chicago. She was a William Rainey Harper Fellow in the University of Chicago’s College, a founding member of the Research Center Religion & Society at the University of Amsterdam, a Global Distinguished Professor at New York University’s Center for Religion & Media and Department of Anthropology, and a Visiting Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre of the Australian National University.
Patricia Spyer has published, among other topics, on violence, media and visual culture, materiality, 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.
In her talk she 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 she will hone in on several instances where Christians in the Moluccan 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.