Patricia Spyer obtained a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. Having held the Chair of Cultural Anthropology of Contemporary Indonesia at Leiden University from 2001 through 2015, her areas of specialisation include visual and material culture, media, image, religion and violence with Indonesia as a focal area.
She has served as a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam where she became a founding member of the university’s Research Centre for Religion & Society, a visiting lecturer at University College London, Professor of Anthropology of Contemporary Indonesia at Leiden University and a William Rainey Harper Fellow in the University of Chicago’s College.
In recent years, she has been a Global Distinguished Professor at New York University’s Centre for Religion & Media and Department of Anthropology (2009-12), and a Visiting Fellow at the Humanities Research Centre of the Australian National University in 2014.
Her recent publication Treacherous matters, or some notes towards a symptomatology of crisis explores how everyday objects can be viewed as powerful symptoms of crisis between religious groups in the Maluku Islands.
She is particularly interested in the relationship between images and equality, explored through her collaborative project Signs of Crisis. This research is followed up in her co-edited collection Images that Move (SAR Press, 2013) which brings together foremost projects examining the role of images in political transformation. By setting up groups, she has also brought together students, academics and practitioners to actively explore the impact of images on society in various contexts.