November 19 Event: Lecture on local identity in contemporary Indonesia by Dr. Elizabeth Pisani

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Time: 4-6pm
Place: TBD

Title: “Sultans Rising: The reinvention of local identity in contemporary Indonesia”

Abstract: For the first 55 years of its existence, Indonesia’s leaders used a centralised bureaucracy to try to keep the country’s 13,000 islands together. But since military ruler Suharto stepped down in 1998, the world’s fourth most populous nation has undergone a riotous decentralisation. Author and researcher Elizabeth Pisani examines how local identities are being excavated, dusted off and sometimes simply invented to serve the needs of political elites in this new age of micro-democracy.

Bio: Elizabeth Pisani is an epidemiologist by training and a political scientist by inclination. Her most recent book, Indonesia Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation, weaves history, travelogue and political analysis into a portrait of a nation with which she has interacted for over 25 years.  The book was the Book of the Year for both The Economist, and The Wall Street JournalThe New Yorker has a lengthy review article by Pankaj Mishra.

In politics, Elizabeth is currently working on corruption and studying the ways in which policies spread through sub-national networks. In the area of epidemiology, she’s looking at antimicrobial resistance, especially as it is affected by counterfeit and substandard medicines. She’s fusing both areas of interest by using an epidemiological framework to investigate the spread of sharia-inspired policies in Indonesia.

Elizabeth holds an MA in Classical Chinese from Oxford, an MSc in Medical Demography from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, also from LSHTM. She is a visiting Senior Fellow at the Policy Institute at King’s College, London, and director of the public health consultancy Ternyata Ltd. Besides academic publications, she writes commentary and analysis for a number of publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian and the Nikkei Asian Review. Her first book, The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels and the Business of AIDS was a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year in 2008.

 For a view of her book on Indonesia please visit the website:

For a more detailed biography visit please: