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Refracted Visions: Popular Photography and National Modernity in Java (Objects/Histories) Hardcover – April 20, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This is a heavy book to hold in one’s hands, printed on glossy paper, with hundreds of photographs, for a really good price, an album of modern Indonesian history, from the 1900s to 2000s; and, as one turns the pages, first quickly and then increasingly slowly, the book is full of wonderful writing. . . . Strassler’s book is extraordinary.” - Rudolf Mrázek, Journal of Asian Studies


Refracted Visions is an innovative and inspiring book because it demonstrates eloquently how people in urban Java started to participate
in national modernity through photography. . . . [T]his highly original and well written book, with no fewer than 127 telling illustrations, is a landmark in the anthropology of visuality. . . . Refracted Visions is, in my view, a strong candidate to win prestigious academic prizes.” - Henk Schulte Nordholt, Asian Studies Review


“In conclusion, the main contribution of Refracted Visions lies in its conceptualization of popular photographs as exceeding the private domain and engaging with collective aspirations and affiliations in ways that both support and subvert them. This point should be taken as a caution against the common display of photographs of late colonial and early postcolonial Asia to evoke nostalgia for a depoliticized, aestheticized past that never was.”
- Maurizio Peleggi, Pacific Affairs


“. . . [N]ot only an in-depth study of ethnic Chinese in Indonesian photographic history, but a beautifully written historical study of visuality, representation and the cultural significance of popular photography in the context of colonial and post-colonial Java.” - Charlotte Setijadi-Dunn, Inside Indonesia


Refracted Visions is a tour de force. Karen Strassler has a sophisticated grasp of contemporary theories of representation in both anthropology and photography studies, a deep and carefully attentive ethnographic eye, and a refined aesthetic sensibility. She limns the boundary between new historicist cultural studies and old fashioned anthropology with uncommon grace.”—Rosalind C. Morris, editor of Photographies East: The Camera and Its Histories in East and Southeast Asia


Refracted Visions is a genuinely marvelous work which merits reading and rereading.”—John Pemberton, author of On the Subject of “Java”


“Refracted Visions is a truly brilliant piece of work, beautifully written and characterized by a profound learning and engagement with Indonesian ethnography and a range of debates around visuality and representation. It will be hailed as a classic.”—Christopher Pinney, author of The Coming of Photography in India


“. . . [N]ot only an in-depth study of ethnic Chinese in Indonesian photographic history, but a beautifully written historical study of visuality, representation and the cultural significance of popular photography in the context of colonial and post-colonial Java.”
(Charlotte Setijadi-Dunn, Inside Indonesia)

Refracted Visions is an innovative and inspiring book because it demonstrates eloquently how people in urban Java started to participate
in national modernity through photography. . . . [T]his highly original and well written book, with no fewer than 127 telling illustrations, is a landmark in the anthropology of visuality. . . . Refracted Visions is, in my view, a strong candidate to win prestigious academic prizes.”
(Henk Schulte Nordholt, Asian Studies Review)

“In conclusion, the main contribution of Refracted Visions lies in its conceptualization of popular photographs as exceeding the private domain and engaging with collective aspirations and affiliations in ways that both support and subvert them. This point should be taken as a caution against the common display of photographs of late colonial and early postcolonial Asia to evoke nostalgia for a depoliticized, aestheticized past that never was.”
(Maurizio Peleggi, Pacific Affairs)

“This is a heavy book to hold in one’s hands, printed on glossy paper, with hundreds of photographs, for a really good price, an album of modern Indonesian history, from the 1900s to 2000s; and, as one turns the pages, first quickly and then increasingly slowly, the book is full of wonderful writing. . . . Strassler’s book is extraordinary.”
(Rudolf Mrázek, Journal of Asian Studies)

About the Author

Karen Strassler is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Queens College, City University of New York.

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