President’s Mother to Become Published Author

May 5, 2009 9:54am

President Obama’s mother will become a published author — 14 years after her death.

Duke University Press announced this week that this November, it will publish Dr. S. Ann Dunham’s 1992 anthropology dissertation for the University of Hawaii, "Surviving against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia."

“It is a great privilege for Duke University Press to be publishing this remarkable work by Ann Dunham,” said Ken Wissoker, editorial director of Duke University Press.“Her global perspective and obvious respect for other people’s intelligence and self-direction is a model we all can learn from. Her children clearly have.”

The 368-page book is based on Dunham’s 14 years of research into the metalworking industries of the Javanese village of Kajar, exploring how Kajar’s industry offers a viable economic alternative in an area of rural Southeast Asia normally dependent upon rice. "Surviving against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia" will sell for $27.95, and will be revised and edited by two anthropologists: Dunham’s graduate adviser, Alice G. Dewey, and one of Dunham’s fellow graduate students, Nancy I. Cooper.

President Obama’s half-sister Maya Soetoro-Ng, who wrote the foreword of the book, said in a statement that she was “delighted that our mother’s book is being published, and I am grateful to Duke University for making this dream of hers come true. My hope is that this book will be read by those who come to love the particularities of its world and who also see the myriad potential application of its ideas and methods to other worlds.”       

In an interview with the Chicago Tribune, then-Sen. Obama referred to his mother as "the dominant figure in my formative years… The values she taught me continue to be my touchstone when it comes to how I go about the world of politics."

Robert W. Hefner, director of the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs at Boston University and current president of the Association for Asian Studies, wrote the afterward for the book, saying "Ann Dunham’s legacy remains relevant today for anthropology, Indonesian studies, and engaged scholarship,” he said.

– jpt

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