Elizabeth Pisani — 'Indonesia, Etc.'


Can 240 million people on 13,500 islands feel that they're all part of the same nation?

Join writer and social activist Elizabeth Pisani for a discussion of her latest book Indonesia, Etc. with journalist Margaret Scott, New York University. Followed by a book sale and signing.

Elizabeth Pisani’s lively portrait of the beautiful and diverse country of Indonesia examines this far flung nation while probing for the common threads that bind it together. Having lived and worked in Indonesia for 25 years as a journalist, epidemiologist, and public health advocate, Pisani took a sabbatical in 2011 and traveled 26,000 miles around the archipelago. In this wide-ranging account she interweaves insights into Indonesia’s history, culture, religion, politics, and the daily lives of the diverse peoples living across the archipelago. Pisani is an astute observer, an adept conversationalist, and an eager cultural explorer who makes friends wherever she goes. Along the way, she shares her deck space with pigs and cows, bunks down in a sulfurous volcano, and even takes tea with a corpse. Her experiences and observations form the basis of this thoughtful and entertaining book, Indonesia, Etc., as well as a lively and informative blog: indonesiaetc.com.

“A clear-eyed and smart look at a rising Asian giant that has defied all conventional wisdom...”
— Vali Nasr, author of The Dispensable Nation and The Rise of Islamic Capitalism

“A beautifully written, richly entertaining account…there are very few good books in English to help the general reader to understand (Indonesia). Ms Pisani’s is probably the best.”
The Economist

Elizabeth Pisani is the director of Ternyata Ltd., a public health consultancy based in London, UK. She is formerly a journalist and currently an epidemiologist best known for her work on HIV/AIDS, in particular for her controversial book The Wisdom of Whores: Bureaucrats, Brothels and the Business of AIDS, and her TED Talk "Sex, drugs, and HIV - let's get rational.” Pisani initially worked as a foreign correspondent for Reuters, The Economist and the Asia Times. During that time she covered major political events such as the Tiananmen Square demonstrations, the civil war in Aceh, Indonesia, as well as a wide range of business stories. In the early 1990s, Pisani changed professional course, qualifying as an epidemiologist and since then most of her work has focused on HIV, sexually transmitted infections and sexual and drug-taking behavior, and on building robust disease surveillance systems. She has worked with the Ministries of Health of China, Indonesia, East Timor and the Philippines, and for organizations such as the UNAIDS, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Bank, and the World Health Organization.

Margaret Scott is an adjunct associate professor at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service and a journalist, currently focusing on the role of Islam in Indonesian politics. She has written for The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, and The New York Times Magazine. She was the cultural editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review, based in Hong Kong.

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Event Details

Mon 15 Dec 2014
6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
725 Park Avenue (at 70th Street), New York
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$10 members; $12 students/seniors; $15 nonmembers.
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