University of Hawaii System newsletter

Ann Dunham Book Explores Rural Metalworkers in Java

Posted on | January 22, 2010 | Comments Off

Mānoa Emeritus Professor Alice G. Dewey and Adjunct Associate Professor Nancy I. Cooper edited Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia by alumna S. Ann Dunham. Dunham, mother of President Barack Obama and Maya Soetoro-Ng, earned her undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees in anthropology from Mānoa. She died in 1995, at the age of 52, before having the opportunity to revise her dissertation for publication, as she had planned. Dunham’s dissertation adviser Dewey and her fellow graduate student Cooper undertook the revisions at the request of Dunham’s daughter, Soetoro-Ng, who is also a Mānoa alumna.

Surviving Against the Odds is based on Dunham’s research over a period of 14 years among the rural metalworkers of Java, the island home to nearly half Indonesia’s population. Focusing attention on the small rural industries overlooked by many scholars, Dunham argued that wet-rice cultivation was not the only viable economic activity in rural Southeast Asia.

The book reflects Dunham’s commitment to helping small-scale village industries survive; her pragmatic, non-ideological approach to research and problem solving; and her impressive command of history, economic data and development policy. Along with photographs of Dunham, the book includes many pictures taken by her in Indonesia.

Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia is available from the publisher’s website.