Council on Southeast Asia Studies Seminar Series: “Jakarta and The Urban Grotesque”

Event time: 
Wednesday, February 28, 2024 - 12:00pm
Henry R. Luce Hall, Room 202 See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06520
Event description: 

The Council on Southeast Asia Studies Seminar Series presents

Doreen Lee, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Northeastern University: 

“Jakarta and The Urban Grotesque.”

This talk draws on my book project on the embeddedness of cultures of circulation in Jakarta. In this book, I distill the flows and values of financial life in Jakarta, Indonesia’s largest city, into a central idea: The Urban Grotesque. The urban grotesque is a name and framework for situating the dynamic, generous, predatory, and unpredictable textures of life for the urban majority, in which scam, debt, and opportunity abound. My book manuscript follows the stories of individuals who experience the high social costs of living in the city, tracking their commonplace gestures of giving and taking to build a systematic understanding of how redistribution and circulation dominate urban life. My research shows that long-standing cultural practices of exchange and reciprocity align with a fast-changing financial landscape in which neoliberal ideas are fast becoming popular. Combining ethnography and memoir, and playing with genre, the book showcases the challenges of capturing the financial edge of urban life without romanticizing the fast-paced economic developments and collective forms of resilience that characterize this Global South city.

Open to: 
General Public