This week on “The Conjuncture of...” we’re talking about texts and popular culture that we’ve been consuming - from book to food.

Harry Isra This week, I’ve just finished reading “Refracted Vision: Popular Photography and National Modernity in Java” by Karen Strassler. Setting her ethnographic research in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, this book analyses some of the photographic genre (amateur, studio portrait, family, identity, and demonstrations photographs), and what could they tell us about national modernity: of how people imagine their cosmopolitan belonging through the background studio portrait, of how the state deployed identity photograph to segregate the communists supporters, of how bureaucracy influenced the way birthday party is celebrated (by making line for waiting to shake a person who has birthday), of how the “order” in bureaucratic setting affect wedding album (to put the album based on the order of the wedding such as pre-wedding, wedding, and post-wedding ceremony), and of how the amateur photographers (which was mainly Chinese) was alienated from what they’ve photographed such as landscape, or picture of something that can be called as “authentically Indonesian”. All of these made me realize how something mundane can be so resourceful to understand how social and cultural changes take a place in a subtle way.

Pranavesh SubramanianThis week, I’ve been (re) watching videos of the comedian Stewart Lee. Encountering his work opened my eyes to how stand-up comedy could be more than a glorified, monotonous joke recital. Lee employs the theatrical device of Brechtian alienation — he breaks away mid-joke from his routines frequently to estrange the audience, creating a unique meta-textual style. It’s a bit like Fleabag, but with a 52 year old man and a mic. If you’re new to his work, his routines on Princess Diana and Pear Cider Made from 100% Pears are a good place to start.

Ego Heriyanto
This week, I'm all ears for a podcast entitled Sugar Nutmeg by Ruth Feriningrum and Alexandra Kumala. Ruth and Alexadra present conversations on complex topics related to South East Asians and South East Asia, the most underexplored demographic and region in Asia. Featuring, among others, Yu Yu Myint Than (Burmese photographer), Silong Chhun (Cambodian graphic designer), and Eugenio "Ego" Lemos (East Timorese environmentalist), the podcast casually recounts the legacy of imperialism in South East Asia. Listening to this podcast really widens my perspective on the interconnectedness of history and art under the influence of past and present colonisation both by Western countries and the most populous country in South East Asia itself, Indonesia.

Fieni ApriliaWhilst I love animals as much as the next vegan, to quote Erin White in an article titled Vegans: You should be worried about the working conditions of farm workers if you’re really against cruelty: “What’s so frustrating about too many animal-free platforms is the bizarre prioritisation of animal welfare over that of the humans who produce the food”. Conversations surrounding the colonial nature of the industrialisation of mass-produced ‘vegan superfood’ (think of quinoa and avocado) is needed. Thus, I’ve been trying to cook more tasty vegan food with only locally-grown plants - no quinoa, no super seeds, just local vegetables bought directly from the farmers at the wet market and/or edible plants and vegetables that we grow at home. This week, I cooked sautéd tree spinach, also known as ‘daun pepaya jepang’, that we planted last year at home. I sautéd it with garlic, shallot, bettlenut, chili, mushroom, and ginger. The leaf tasted slightly bitter but the herbs and spices really complemented the taste.

Texts mentioned:
  1. Refracted Vision: Popular Photography and National Modernity in Java by Karen Strassler
  2. Sugar Nutmeg by Ruth Feriningrum and Alexandra Kumala
  3. Vegans: You should be worried about the working conditions of farm workers if you’re really against cruelty by Erin White


SUBMISSION by Perla Kantarjian“With the ancestral, almost seraphic brass
incense censer he brings out on the days he feels sentimental, he draws a gentle cross atop my head. “Asdvadz hedet ella bab,” he says softly. May god be with you when you leave. Which leaving is he speaking of?” (Read More)


SUBMISSION by Perla Kantarjian “you see, in Armenian, when someone looks at you too much, your friend will say: ge tchapveyirgor—
you were being measured” (Read More)


SUBMISSION by Anna Nguyen“This idea is in direct contrast to the abstraction of an autonomous science as a mythical global force where it freely travels. After all, science precedes the scientist. The noun (science) becomes an actor, the actor (the scientist) becomes passive. Discovery and its magic are underscored, obscuring colonialism or what the anthropologist Shiv Visvanathan calls genocide or political vivisection” (Read More)


SUBMISSION by Amanda ReCupido“Capitalism demands an endless cycle of products and purchasing. Destruction in order to make and sell you something, whether you need it or not, whether it’s good for our Earth or not. Exponential growth is unsustainable.” (Read More)