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Karen Strassler
Position: Professor
Campus Affiliation: Queens College
Degrees/Diplomas: PhD, U Michigan, 2003
Research Interests: Photo/image/visual anthropology, media/technology/material culture, memory & history, Indonesia, Southeast Asia
Subfield: Cultural Anthropology
I am a cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on the social lives and political work of images. At the broadest level I am interested in studying the relationship between visuality and political imaginaries; I seek to trace ethnographically how concrete images and image-practices shape and intervene in the visual field, opening up new political horizons and enabling new subject positions to emerge.  My most recent book, Demanding Images: Democracy, Mediation, and the Image-Event in Indonesia (Duke 2020) is an exploration of the ways that public images shaped the political field during a tumultuous time of political transition and technological transformation. It is also a study of how, within today's complexly mediated public spheres, ludic and personalized images increasingly circulate and enter into symbiotic, parasitic, and competitive relations with the documentary images that once assumed authority in public claims-making and truth-telling. My first book, Refracted Visions: Popular Photography and National Modernity in Java (Duke 2010), examined the role of everyday practices of posing for, displaying, circulating, talking about, and sometimes destroying photographs in the making of Indonesian subjects, spaces, and temporalities. It was awarded the Gregory Bateson Prize for Cultural Anthropology, the Harry J Benda Prize for Southeast Asian Studies, and the John Collier Prize for Visual Anthropology. I have recently been working on questions of visuality, violence, memory, and the ethnic Chinese minority in Indonesia, as well as a new project on bodies, images, and mediation. 

Recent publications: 

Demanding Images: Democracy, Mediation, and the Image-Event in Indonesia (Duke 2020)  https://www.dukeupress.edu/Assets/PubMaterials/978-1-4780-0469-1_601.pdf [dukeupress.edu]


"Zones of Refuge: Fugitive Memories of Violence in the Work of FX Harsono," History of the Present Vol 8(2) Fall 2018: 177-208.