Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia

S. Ann Dunham

Published by Duke University Press, 2009
ISBN 10: 0822346877 / ISBN 13: 9780822346876
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Synopsis: Read the foreword by Mara Soetoro-Ng

President Barack Obama’s mother, S. Ann Dunham, was an economic anthropologist and rural development consultant who worked in several countries including Indonesia. Dunham received her doctorate in 1992. 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 Alice G. Dewey and her fellow graduate student Nancy I. Cooper undertook the revisions at the request of Dunham’s daughter, Maya Soetoro-Ng. The result is Surviving against the Odds, a book based on Dunham’s research over a period of fourteen years among the rural metalworkers of Java, the island home to nearly half Indonesia’s population. Surviving against the Odds 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.

After Dunham married Lolo Soetoro in 1967, she and her six-year-old son, Barack Obama, moved from Hawai‘i to Soetoro’s home in Jakarta, where Maya Soetoro was born three years later. Barack returned to Hawai‘i to attend school in 1971. Dedicated to Dunham’s mother Madelyn, her adviser Alice, and “Barack and Maya, who seldom complained when their mother was in the field,” Surviving against the Odds centers on the metalworking industries in the Javanese village of Kajar. 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.

Surviving against the Odds includes a preface by the editors, Alice G. Dewey and Nancy I. Cooper, and a foreword by her daughter Maya Soetoro-Ng, each of which discusses Dunham and her career. In his afterword, the anthropologist and Indonesianist Robert W. Hefner explores the content of Surviving against the Odds, its relation to anthropology when it was researched and written, and its continuing relevance today.

From the Publisher: "Surviving against the Odds is a work of very fine scholarship grounded in a deep understanding of Indonesia. Reading it, I learned a great deal about economic anthropology, blacksmithing (across a range of dimensions, from the supernatural to metallurgy), local life and labor in the Javanese village of Kajar, and the remarkable welter of development schemes and projects in play during the long period of S. Ann Dunham's research. Dunham knew the arcane world of development very well and her account of it is fascinating and important."--Donald Brenneis, University of California, Santa Cruz, past president of the American Anthropological Association

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Title: Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry...
Publisher: Duke University Press
Publication Date: 2009
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: As New

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S. Ann Dunham; Alice G.Dewey [Contributor]; Nancy I.Cooper [Contributor]; Maya Soetoro-Ng [Contributor]; Robert W.Hefner [Contributor];
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