Celia Lowe

Professor of Anthropology and International Studies, Director, Center Southeast Asia and its Diasporas


Celia Lowe is the Director of the Southeast Asia Center, as well as Professor of Anthropology and International Studies. Her research interests are in anthropology of reason, biosecurity, post-colonial theory, science studies, nationalism, and identity.

Celia’s project ‘Avian Influenza in Indonesia: the Anthropology of Biosecurity The United States’contributed USD 100 million to Indonesia for avian influenza initiatives between 2005-07, and has had an official “Ambassador of Bird Flu” stationed in Hong Kong. Less than 100 individuals have died of avian influenza in Indonesia, however, while–to take just one prevalent disease–tuberculosis kills one Indonesian person every four minutes. Why, in biological terms, has avian influenza become of such medical concern, and how, in cultural terms, can we interpret the anxieties bird flu raises about biosecurity? Why, in fact, is bird flu framed as an issue of post-9/11 security at all? Answers to these questions must be different in Indonesia and the United States since each have their own stakes in the concept of terror, and their own unique fears that can successfully be proliferated within their individual populations. This project problematizes avian influenza within Indonesia and the United States as a form of power exercised at the level of life, and is theorized through discussions on reason and the anthropology of biosecurity.