Anthropology and Sociology
Jesus painting


Patricia Spyer Among others see programme
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Auditorium A2 (Petal 1), Maison de la paix, Genève 

This event is co-hosted by the Graduate Institute’s Anthropology and Sociology Department(ANSO) and the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy (AHCD).

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Less than a year after the end of authoritarian rule in 1998, huge images of Jesus Christ and Christian scenes proliferated on walls and billboards around a provincial town in eastern Indonesia in a conflict pitting Muslims against Christians. A manifestation of the extreme perception that emerged amidst the uncertainty and challenge to seeing brought on by urban warfare, the street paintings erected by Protestant motorbike-taxi drivers signaled a radical departure from the aniconic tradition of the old colonial church, a desire to be seen and recognized by political authorities from Jakarta to the UN and European Union, an aim to reinstate the Christian look of a city amid the country’s widespread islamicization, and an opening to a more intimate relationship to the divine through the bringing-into-vision of the Christian god. Stridently assertive, these affectively charged mediations of religion, masculinity, Christian privilege and subjectivity are among the myriad ephemera of war; from graffiti, incendiary pamphlets and video CDs to Peace Provocateur text-messages and children’s reconciliation drawings. Orphaned Landscapes theorizes the production of monumental street art and other visual media as part of a wider work on appearance in which ordinary people, wittingly or unwittingly, refigure their urban surroundings. The book offers an account of a place in crisis and motion and shows how the work on appearance is inherent to sociopolitical change. 




Patricia Spyer is a sociocultural anthropologist whose research explores a cluster of evolving concerns arding visuality, mediation, (post)violence, and sociopolitical transformation. She held the Chair of Cultural Anthropology of Contemporary Indonesia at Leiden University (2001-15), was Global Distinguished Professor at New York University’s Center for Religion & Media and Department of Anthropology (2009-12), Visiting Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre of the Australian National University in 2014, Visiting Scholar at New York University – Shanghai’s Center for Global Asia in 2017, and Evans Fellow at Cambridge University’s Museum of Archeology & Anthropology and Department of Anthropology in 2020. She is the author of Orphaned Landscapes: Violence, Visuality, and Appearance in Indonesia, Fordham 2021, The Memory of Trade: Modernity’s Entanglements on an Eastern Indonesian Island, Duke 2000, co-editor of Images That Move, SAR Press, 2013 and the Handbook of Material Culture, Sage 2013 [2006], and editor of Border Fetishisms: Material Objects in Unstable Spaces, Routledge 1998. Patricia is Professor of Anthropology & Sociology at the Geneva Graduate Institute that she joined in 2016 and Faculty Associate with the Albert Hirschman Centre for Democracy.


Following the book presentation, Patricia Spyer will be joined for a panel discussion with:

  • Carla Jones, Associate Professor, Graduate Director and Associate Chair in Anthropology at the University of Colorado Boulder
  • Webb Keane, George Herbert Mead Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan
  • Karen Strassler, Professor of Anthropology at Queens College, CUNY Graduate Center
  • Tintin Wulia, internationally practicing artist and researcher, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center on Global Migration at the University of Goethenburg
  • Grégoire Mallard (moderator) Director of Research and Professor in Anthropology and Sociology at the Geneva Graduate Institute

The panel discussion will be followed by a Q&A session.


REad Patricia Spyer's interview on the book 

This is a hybrid event. Please register below to attend the event online or in person.