The East-West Center is pleased to be collaborating with the University of Hawai‘i Foundation and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa to raise funds for student fellowships in honor of Ann Dunham Soetoro, the mother of President Barack Obama. The graduate degree fellowships will focus on Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia, and are intended to perpetuate the kind of penetrating and insightful study of Indonesia that was exemplified by this distinguished alumna of the East-West Center and the University of Hawai‘i.
Ann Dunham Soetoro was awarded East-West Center Graduate Degree Fellowships from 1973 through 1978, for Master’s and Ph.D. studies in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Hawai‘i . Her thesis was based on her intense involvement with rural communities in Java where the challenges of development were particularly evident. Because of her premature death in 1995, Ann’s contributions might have been little recognized were it not for the election of her son as President of the United States. Since that time an edited version of her dissertation has been published by Duke University Press, edited by Alice Dewey and Nancy Cooper, bringing more attention to her remarkable career.
From September 2011 to January 2012, the East-West Center Gallery is scheduled to present an exhibition based on Dunham’s work. The exhibition will include her field photographs and objects she collected, as well as other items related to the village crafts and industries she studied.
“The work of Ann Dunham Soetoro is an example of the kind of training and research to which the Center is committed,” said East-West Center President Charles E. Morrison. “This endowment will honor her work and reinforce the Center’s engagement with an important country and region, while strengthening our partnership with the University and its excellent programs in anthropology and related fields, ensuring opportunities for future generations. I encourage everyone who can to consider giving financial support, however modest, as this effort moves forward.”