Surviving Against The Odds: Village Industry In Indonesia

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By S. Ann Dunham, Edited by Alice G. Dewey and Nancy I. Cooper

President Barack Obama's mother, S. Ann Dunham, was an economic anthropologist and rural development consultant who worked in several countries, including Indonesia. When 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 Hawaii to attend school in 1971. Dunham received her doctorate in 1992, based on field work conducted intermittently over a period of fourteen years that examined rural industries in Indonesia, with a particular focus on metalworking in Java. She planned to revise the dissertation for publication, but died in 1995, at the age of 52, before she could complete the work. Dunham's academic adviser, Alice G. Dewey, and her fellow graduate student, Nancy I. Cooper, edited the dissertation at the request of Dunham's daughter, Maya Soetoro-Ng, to produce Surviving against the Odds.

Dedicated to Dunham's mother Madelyn, her adviser Alice Dewey, and "Barack and Maya, who seldom complained when their mother was in the field," Surviving against the Odds is a tribute to 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.


S. Ann Dunham (1942-95), mother of President Barack Obama and Maya Soetoro-Ng, earned her undergraduate, masters and doctoral degrees, all in anthropology, from the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. Dunham spent many years working on rural development, microfinance, and women's welfare through various organizations, including USAID, the World Bank, the Ford Foundation, the Indonesian Federation of Labor Unions, and Bank Rakyat Indonesia.

Alice G. Dewey is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology.

Nancy I. Cooper is Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Hawai'i. Both are Indonesian specialists with extensive research experience in the country.


Publication Year: 2010
440 pages, 229mm x 153mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-533-0, Paperback

NUS Press and LONTAR Foundation