Commission on Visual Anthropology


Jim Hoesterey


Jim Hoesterey received his Ph.D. in anthropology from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University, where he is working on a book manuscript about the cultural politics of Islamic media. This research is based on two years of ethnographic fieldwork in the Islamic school and television studios of Abdullah Gymnastiar, one of the world’s most popular Muslim preachers. Jim has also worked as consultant for several documentaries filmed in Southeast Asia and Africa and broadcast worldwide on BBC, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, National Geographic International, and Channel One. In addition to these interests in visual culture, his next research project will explore the role of Islam in Indonesian cinema and politics. Jim remains committed to the political possibilities of ethnographic film, where the camera has become, in the words of Gordon Parks, his “weapon of choice.” To this end, he is in the early stages of collaboration with anthropological filmmakers interested in providing a new “visual vocabulary” with which Westerners, Americans in particular, can better understand Islam and relate to the everyday lives of Muslims across the world. As a board member for CVA, Jim is working to bridge (or, perhaps more aptly put, to repair the bridge) between anthropology and broadcast television, in the hopes that anthropological understandings might gain more prominence in the ongoing moral and political debates in the global public sphere.