Ann Dunham

Ann Dunham

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Ann Dunham'
Start a new discussion about 'Ann Dunham'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Stanley Ann Dunham the mother of Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

, the 44th President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 anthropologist
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 who specialized in economic anthropology
Economic anthropology
Economic anthropology is a scholarly field that attempts to explain human economic behavior using the tools of both economics and anthropology. It is practiced by anthropologists and has a complex relationship with economics...

 and rural development
Rural development
Rural development in general denotes economic development and community development actions and initiatives taken to improve the standard of living in non-urban neighbourhoods, remote villages and the countryside...

. Dunham was nicknamed Anna, later known as Dr. Stanley Ann Dunham Soetoro, and finally Ann Dunham Sutoro. Born in Wichita
Wichita, Kansas
Wichita is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kansas.As of the 2010 census, the city population was 382,368. Located in south-central Kansas on the Arkansas River, Wichita is the county seat of Sedgwick County and the principal city of the Wichita metropolitan area...

, Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

, Dunham spent her childhood in California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

, Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

 and her teenage years in Mercer Island, Washington
Mercer Island, Washington
Mercer Island is a city in King County, Washington, United States and the name of the island in Lake Washington on which the city sits. The population was 22,699 at the 2010 census....

, and the majority of her adult life in Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 and Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

.

Dunham studied at the Honolulu University of Hawaii
University of Hawaii
The University of Hawaii System, formally the University of Hawaii and popularly known as UH, is a public, co-educational college and university system that confers associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees through three university campuses, seven community college campuses, an employment...

 Manoa campus, and the University of Hawaii Manoa's East–West Center
East–West Center
The East–West Center , headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, is an education and research organization established by the U.S. Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the peoples and nations of Asia, the Pacific and the United States....

, where she attained a bachelor's in anthropology or mathematics and master's and Ph.D. in anthropology.

Interested in craftsmanship, weaving and the role of women in cottage industries, Dunham's research focused on women's work on the island of Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

 and blacksmithing in Indonesia. To address the problem of poverty in rural villages, she created microcredit
Microcredit
Microcredit is the extension of very small loans to those in poverty designed to spur entrepreneurship. These individuals lack collateral, steady employment and a verifiable credit history and therefore cannot meet even the most minimal qualifications to gain access to traditional credit...

 programs while working as a consultant for the United States Agency for International Development
United States Agency for International Development
The United States Agency for International Development is the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid. President John F. Kennedy created USAID in 1961 by executive order to implement development assistance programs in the areas...

. Dunham was also employed by the Ford Foundation
Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is a private foundation incorporated in Michigan and based in New York City created to fund programs that were chartered in 1936 by Edsel Ford and Henry Ford....

 in Jakarta
Jakarta
Jakarta is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Officially known as the Special Capital Territory of Jakarta, it is located on the northwest coast of Java, has an area of , and a population of 9,580,000. Jakarta is the country's economic, cultural and political centre...

 and she consulted with the Asian Development Bank
Asian Development Bank
The Asian Development Bank is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia...

 in Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. Towards the latter part of her life, she worked with Bank Rakyat Indonesia
Bank Rakyat Indonesia
Bank Rakyat Indonesia or PT. Bank Rakyat Indonesia , , is one of the larger banks in Indonesia. It specialises in small scale and microfinance style borrowing from and lending to its approximately 30 million retail clients through its over 4,000 branches, units and rural service posts...

, where she helped apply her research to the largest microfinance
Microfinance
Microfinance is the provision of financial services to low-income clients or solidarity lending groups including consumers and the self-employed, who traditionally lack access to banking and related services....

 program in the world.

After her son assumed the presidency, interest renewed in Dunham's work: The University of Hawaii held a symposium about her research; an exhibition of Dunham's Indonesian batik
Batik
Batik is a cloth that traditionally uses a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. Batik or fabrics with the traditional batik patterns are found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, Azerbaijan, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, and Singapore.Javanese traditional batik, especially from...

 textile collection toured the United States; and in December 2009, Duke University Press
Duke University Press
Duke University Press is an academic publisher of books and journals, and a unit of Duke University. It publishes approximately 120 books annually and more than 40 journals, as well as offering five electronic collections...

 published Surviving against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia, a book based on Dunham's original 1992 dissertation.

In an interview, Barack 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."




Early life


Dunham was born in St. Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kansas
Wichita, Kansas
Wichita is the largest city in the U.S. state of Kansas.As of the 2010 census, the city population was 382,368. Located in south-central Kansas on the Arkansas River, Wichita is the county seat of Sedgwick County and the principal city of the Wichita metropolitan area...

, as the only child of Madelyn Lee Payne and Stanley Armour Dunham
Stanley Armour Dunham
Stanley Armour Dunham was the maternal grandfather of U.S. President Barack Obama. He and his wife Madelyn Payne Dunham raised Obama from the age of 10 in Honolulu, Hawaii.-Early life:...

. She is of predominantly English ancestry with some German
German American
German Americans are citizens of the United States of German ancestry and comprise about 51 million people, or 17% of the U.S. population, the country's largest self-reported ancestral group...

, Irish, and Welsh ancestry. Her parents were born in Kansas and met in Wichita where they married on May 5, 1940.After the attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

, her father joined the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 and her mother worked at a Boeing
Boeing
The Boeing Company is an American multinational aerospace and defense corporation, founded in 1916 by William E. Boeing in Seattle, Washington. Boeing has expanded over the years, merging with McDonnell Douglas in 1997. Boeing Corporate headquarters has been in Chicago, Illinois since 2001...

 plant in Wichita. Named after her father because he wanted a son, as a child and teenager she was known as Stanley. Other children teased her about her name but she used it through high school, "apologizing for it each time she introduced herself in a new town". By the time Dunham began attending college, she was known by her middle name, Ann, instead. After World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Dunham's family moved from Wichita to California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 while her father attended the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

. In 1948, they moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma
Ponca City, Oklahoma
Ponca City is a small city in Kay and Osage counties in the U.S. state of Oklahoma, which was named after the Ponca Tribe. Located in north central Oklahoma, it lies approximately south of the Kansas border, and approximately east of Interstate 35. 25,919 people called Ponca City home at the...

, and from there to Vernon, Texas
Vernon, Texas
Vernon is a city in Wilbarger County, Texas, United States. As of the 2000 census, the population was 11,660; it was 11,077 in the 2005 census estimate. Vernon is the county seat of Wilbarger County....

, and then to El Dorado, Kansas
El Dorado, Kansas
El Dorado is a city situated along the Walnut River in the central part of Butler County, located in south-central Kansas, in the Central United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 13,021. It is the county seat and most populous city of Butler County...

. In 1955, the family moved to Seattle, Washington where her father was employed as a furniture salesman and her mother worked as vice president of a bank. They lived in an apartment complex in the Wedgwood neighborhood where she attended Nathan Eckstein Junior High School
Nathan Eckstein Middle School
Nathan Eckstein Middle School is located in Seattle, Washington and is part of the Seattle Public Schools.-History:...

.

In 1956, Dunham's family moved to Mercer Island, an Eastside
Eastside (King County, Washington)
File:Seattle-lakewashington-lakesammamish.PNG|250px|right|The Eastside is to the right of Seattle.# rough city boundariespoly 137 256 148 256 158 194 172 179 172 237 212 266 133 266Renton...

 suburb of Seattle. Dunham's parents wanted their 13-year-old daughter to attend the newly opened Mercer Island High School
Mercer Island High School
Mercer Island High School is a public high school located in Mercer Island, Washington in the U.S., as part of the Mercer Island School District....

. At the school, teachers Val Foubert and Jim Wichterman taught the importance of challenging social norms and questioning authority to the young Dunham, and she took the lessons to heart: "She felt she didn't need to date or marry or have children." One classmate remembered her as "intellectually way more mature than we were and a little bit ahead of her time, in an off-center way", and a high school friend described her as knowledgeable and progressive: "If you were concerned about something going wrong in the world, Stanley would know about it first. We were liberals before we knew what liberals were." Another called her "the original feminist".

Family life and marriages




On August 21, 1959, Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

 became the 50th state to be admitted into the Union. Dunham's parents sought business opportunities in the new state, and after graduating from high school in 1960, Dunham and her family moved to Honolulu. Dunham soon enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa
University of Hawaii at Manoa
The University of Hawaii at Mānoa is a public, co-educational university and is the flagship campus of the greater University of Hawaii system...

. While attending a Russian language
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 class, Dunham met Barack Obama, Sr.
Barack Obama, Sr.
Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. was a Kenyan senior governmental economist and the father of U.S. President Barack Obama. He is a central subject in his son's memoir, Dreams from My Father.-Early life:...

, the school's first African student. (print) At the age of 23, Obama Sr. had come to Hawaii to pursue his education, leaving behind a pregnant wife and infant son in his home town of Nyang’oma Kogelo
Nyang’oma Kogelo
Nyang’oma Kogelo, also known as Kogelo, is a village in Siaya District, Nyanza Province, Kenya. It is located near the equator, 60 kilometres west-northwest of Kisumu, the provincial capital. The population of Nyangoma-Kogelo is 3,648 ....

 in Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

. Dunham and Obama Sr. were married on the Hawaiian island of Maui
Maui
The island of Maui is the second-largest of the Hawaiian Islands at and is the 17th largest island in the United States. Maui is part of the state of Hawaii and is the largest of Maui County's four islands, bigger than Lānai, Kahoolawe, and Molokai. In 2010, Maui had a population of 144,444,...

 on February 2, 1961, despite parental opposition from both families. ("Special Democratic Convention issue") (print) Dunham was three months pregnant. Obama Sr. eventually informed Dunham about his first marriage in Kenya but claimed he was divorced. Years later, she would discover this was false. Obama Sr.'s first wife, Kezia, later said she had granted her consent for him to marry a second wife, in keeping with Luo customs.

On August 4, 1961, at the age of 18, Dunham gave birth to her first child, Barack Obama II
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

. Friends in Washington State recall her visiting with her month-old baby in 1961.Regarding the 1961 visit to Washington state: "Susan Blake,[Botkin] another high-school classmate, said that during a brief visit in 1961, Dunham was excited about her husband's plans to return to Kenya."
Regarding her enrollment at University of Washington: "By 1962, Dunham had returned to Seattle as a single mother, enrolling in the UW for spring quarter and living in an apartment on Capitol Hill."
She took classes at the University of Washington
University of Washington
University of Washington is a public research university, founded in 1861 in Seattle, Washington, United States. The UW is the largest university in the Northwest and the oldest public university on the West Coast. The university has three campuses, with its largest campus in the University...

 from September 1961 to June 1962, and lived as a single mother in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle with her son while her husband continued his studies in Hawaii. When Obama Sr. graduated from the University of Hawaii
University of Hawaii
The University of Hawaii System, formally the University of Hawaii and popularly known as UH, is a public, co-educational college and university system that confers associate, bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees through three university campuses, seven community college campuses, an employment...

 in June 1962, he was offered a scholarship to study in New York City but he declined it, preferring to attend the more prestigious Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

. He left for Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent...

, where he would begin graduate study at Harvard in the fall of 1962. Dunham returned to Honolulu and resumed her undergraduate education at the University of Hawaii with the spring semester in January 1963. During this time, her parents helped her raise the young Obama. Dunham filed for divorce in January 1964, which Obama Sr. did not contest. Obama Sr. received a M.A.
Master of Arts (postgraduate)
A Master of Arts from the Latin Magister Artium, is a type of Master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The M.A. is usually contrasted with the M.S. or M.Sc. degrees...

 in economics from Harvard in 1965 and in 1971, he came to Hawaii and visited his son Barack, then 10 years old; it was the last time he would see his son. In 1982, Obama Sr. was killed in a car accident.
It was at the East–West Center
East–West Center
The East–West Center , headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii, is an education and research organization established by the U.S. Congress in 1960 to strengthen relations and understanding among the peoples and nations of Asia, the Pacific and the United States....

 that Dunham met Lolo Soetoro
Lolo Soetoro
Lolo Soetoro, also known as Lolo Soetoro Mangunharjo or Mangundikardjo, was the Indonesian stepfather of Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America.-Early life and education:...

, a Javanese surveyor who had come to Honolulu on September 1962 on a East–West Center grant to study geography at the University of Hawaii. Soetoro graduated from the University of Hawaii with an M.A. in geography in June 1964. In 1965, Soetoro and Dunham were married in Hawaii, and in 1966, Soetoro returned to Indonesia. After her graduation from the University of Hawaii with a B.A. in anthropology on August 6, 1967, Dunham moved with her six-year-old son to Jakarta, Indonesia in October 1967 to rejoin her husband. In Indonesia, Soetoro worked first as a low-paid topographical surveyor for the Indonesian government, and later in the government relations office of Union Oil Company
Unocal Corporation
Union Oil Company of California, dba Unocal is a defunct company that was a major petroleum explorer and marketer in the late 19th century, through the 20th century, and into the early 21st century. It was headquartered in El Segundo, California, United States.On August 10, 2005, Unocal merged...

.

The family first lived at 16 Kyai Haji Ramli Tengah Street in a newly-built neighborhood in the Menteng Dalam administrative village of the Tebet subdistrict
Subdistricts of Indonesia
In Indonesia, a kecamatan or district is a subdivision of a regency or of a city . A district is itself divided into kelurahan or administrative villages....

 in South Jakarta
South Jakarta
South Jakarta is a city within Jakarta Special District, Indonesia. It had a population of 2,057,080 at the 2010 Census, and is the third most populous among the five cities of Jakarta, after East Jakarta and West Jakarta...

 for two and a half years, with her son attending the nearby Indonesian-language Santo Fransiskus Asisi (St. Francis of Assisi) Catholic School for 1st, 2nd, and part of 3rd grade, then in 1970 moved two miles north to 22 Taman Amir Hamzah Street in the Matraman Dalam neighborhood in the Pegangsaan administrative village of the Menteng
Menteng
Menteng is a subdistrict of Central Jakarta, one of the administrative city which forms the special capital territory of Jakarta, Indonesia.The subdistrict is best known as the location of the Menteng residential area, a new urban design developed in the 1910s to become a residential area for Dutch...

 subdistrict in Central Jakarta
Central Jakarta
Central Jakarta is one of the five cities which form Jakarta, Indonesia. It had 898,883 inhabitants at the 2010 Census.Central Jakarta is the smallest in area and population of the five cities of Jakarta. It is the administrative and political center of Jakarta and Indonesia...

, with her son attending the Indonesian-language government-run Besuki School one and half miles east in the exclusive Menteng administrative village of the Menteng subdistrict for part of 3rd grade and for 4th grade. On August 15, 1970, Soetoro and Dunham had a daughter, Maya Kassandra Soetoro
Maya Soetoro-Ng
Maya Kassandra Soetoro-Ng is the maternal half-sister of Barack Obama, the 44th and current President of the United States. She was previously a high school history teacher and university instructor in Hawaii.-Early life:...

.

In Indonesia, Dunham enriched her son's education with correspondence courses in English, recordings of Mahalia Jackson
Mahalia Jackson
Mahalia Jackson – January 27, 1972) was an African-American gospel singer. Possessing a powerful contralto voice, she was referred to as "The Queen of Gospel"...

, and speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. In 1971, she sent the young Obama back to Hawaii to attend Punahou School
Punahou School
Punahou School, once known as Oahu College, is a private, co-educational, college preparatory school located in Honolulu CDP, City and County of Honolulu in the U.S. State of Hawaii...

 starting in 5th grade rather than having him stay in Asia with her. Madelyn Dunham's job at the Bank of Hawaii
Bank of Hawaii
The Bank of Hawaii Corporation is a regional commercial bank headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is Hawaii's second oldest bank and its largest locally owned bank in that majority of the voting stockholders reside within the state...

, where she had worked her way up over a decade from clerk to becoming one of its first two female vice presidents in 1970, helped pay the steep tuition, with some assistance from a scholarship.

A year later, in August 1972, Dunham and her daughter moved back to Hawaii to rejoin her son and begin graduate study in anthropology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Dunham's graduate work was supported by an Asia Foundation grant from August 1972 to July 1973 and by an East–West Center Technology and Development Institute grant from August 1973 to December 1978.

Dunham completed her coursework at the University of Hawaii for a M.A. in anthropology in December 1974, and after having spent three years in Hawaii, Dunham, accompanied by her daughter Maya, returned to Indonesia in 1975 to do anthropological field work.
At present I am staying with my mother-in-law on the corner of Taman Sari inside the Benteng, but according to old law foreigners are not allowed to live inside the Benteng. I had to get a special dispensation from the kraton on the grounds that I am "djaga-ing" my mother-in-law (she is 76 and strong as a horse but manages to look nice and frail). In June I am having Barry come over for the summer, however, and will probably need to find another place, since I don't think I can stretch an excuse and say we are both needed to djaga my mother-in-law. Her son chose not to go with them back to Indonesia, preferring to finish high school at Punahou School in Honolulu while living with his grandparents. Lolo Soetoro and Dunham divorced on November 5, 1980; Lolo Soetoro married Erna Kustina in 1980 and had two children, a son, Yusuf Aji Soetoro (born 1981) and daughter, Rahayu Nurmaida Soetoro (born 1987). Lolo Soetoro died, age 52, on March 2, 1987 of liver failure.

Dunham was not estranged from either ex-husband and encouraged her children to feel connected to their fathers.

Professional life


From January 1968 to December 1969, Dunham taught English and was an assistant director of the Lembaga Persahabatan Indonesia Amerika (LIA)–the Indonesia-America Friendship Institute at 9 Teuku Umar Street in the Gondangdia administrative village of the Menteng subdistrict in Central Jakarta–which was subsidized by U.S. government. From January 1970 to August 1972, Dunham taught English and was a department head and a director of the Lembaga Pendidikan dan Pengembangan Manajemen (LPPM)–the Institute of Management Education and Development at 9 Menteng Raya Street in the Kebon Sirih administrative village of the Menteng subdistrict in Central Jakarta.

From 1968 to 1972, Dunham was a co-founder and active member of the Ganesha Volunteers (Indonesian Heritage Society) at the National Museum in Jakarta. From 1972 to 1975, Dunham was crafts instructor (in weaving, batik
Batik
Batik is a cloth that traditionally uses a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. Batik or fabrics with the traditional batik patterns are found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, Azerbaijan, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, and Singapore.Javanese traditional batik, especially from...

, and dye) at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.

Dunham then had a career in rural development
Rural development
Rural development in general denotes economic development and community development actions and initiatives taken to improve the standard of living in non-urban neighbourhoods, remote villages and the countryside...

, championing women’s work and microcredit
Microcredit
Microcredit is the extension of very small loans to those in poverty designed to spur entrepreneurship. These individuals lack collateral, steady employment and a verifiable credit history and therefore cannot meet even the most minimal qualifications to gain access to traditional credit...

 for the world’s poor and worked with leaders from organizations supporting Indonesian human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

, women's rights
Women's rights
Women's rights are entitlements and freedoms claimed for women and girls of all ages in many societies.In some places these rights are institutionalized or supported by law, local custom, and behaviour, whereas in others they may be ignored or suppressed...

, and grass-roots development
Economic development
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area...

.

In March 1977, Dunham, under the supervision of agricultural economics professor Leon A. Mears, developed and taught a short lecture course at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Indonesia (FEUI) in Jakarta for staff members of BAPPENAS (Badan Perencanaan Pembangunan Nasional)—the Indonesian National Development Planning Agency.

From June 1977 through September 1978, Dunham carried out research on village industries in the Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta (DIY)—the Yogyakarta Special Region within Central Java
Central Java
Central Java is a province of Indonesia. The administrative capital is Semarang. It is one of six provinces on the island of Java.This province is the province of high Human Development in Indonesia and its Points Development Index countries is equivalent to Lebanon. The province of Central Java...

 in Indonesia under a student grant from the East–West Center. As a weaver
Weaving
Weaving is a method of fabric production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. The other methods are knitting, lace making and felting. The longitudinal threads are called the warp and the lateral threads are the weft or filling...

 herself, Dunham was interested in village industries, and moved to Yogyakarta City
Yogyakarta (city)
Yogyakarta is a city in the Yogyakarta Special Region, Indonesia. It is renowned as a centre of classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry, and puppet shows. Yogyakarta was the Indonesian capital during the Indonesian National Revolution from 1945 to...

, the center of Java
Java
Java is an island of Indonesia. With a population of 135 million , it is the world's most populous island, and one of the most densely populated regions in the world. It is home to 60% of Indonesia's population. The Indonesian capital city, Jakarta, is in west Java...

nese handicrafts.

In May and June 1978, Dunham was a short-term consultant in the office of the International Labour Organization
International Labour Organization
The International Labour Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that deals with labour issues pertaining to international labour standards. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. Its secretariat — the people who are employed by it throughout the world — is known as the...

 (ILO) in Jakarta, writing recommendations on village industries and other non-agricultural enterprises for the Indonesian government's third five-year development plan (REPELITA III).

From October 1978 to December 1980, Dunham was a rural industries consultant in Central Java on the Indonesian Ministry of Industry's Provincial Development Program (PDP I), funded by USAID
United States Agency for International Development
The United States Agency for International Development is the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid. President John F. Kennedy created USAID in 1961 by executive order to implement development assistance programs in the areas...

 in Jakarta and implemented through Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI).

From January 1981 to November 1984, Dunham was the program officer for women and employment in the Ford Foundation
Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is a private foundation incorporated in Michigan and based in New York City created to fund programs that were chartered in 1936 by Edsel Ford and Henry Ford....

's Southeast Asia regional office in Jakarta. While at the Ford Foundation, she developed a model of microfinance
Microfinance
Microfinance is the provision of financial services to low-income clients or solidarity lending groups including consumers and the self-employed, who traditionally lack access to banking and related services....

 which is now the standard in Indonesia, a country that is a world leader in micro-credit systems. Peter Geithner, father of Tim Geithner (who later became U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
United States Secretary of the Treasury
The Secretary of the Treasury of the United States is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury, which is concerned with financial and monetary matters, and, until 2003, also with some issues of national security and defense. This position in the Federal Government of the United...

 in her son's administration), was head of the foundation's Asia grant-making at that time.

From May to November 1986 and from August to November 1987, Dunham was a cottage industries development consultant for the Agricultural Development Bank of Pakistan (ADBP) under the Gujranwala Integrated Rural Development Project (GADP). The credit component of the project was implemented in the Gujranwala
Gujranwala District
Gujranwala District is a district in Punjab, Pakistan.- History :The village of Asarur which has been identified as the location of Taki, an ancient town, visited by the Chinese pilgrim Hiuen Tsiang contains immense ruins of Buddhist origin...

 district of the Punjab province of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 with funding from the Asian Development Bank
Asian Development Bank
The Asian Development Bank is a regional development bank established on 22 August 1966 to facilitate economic development of countries in Asia...

 and IFAD
International Fund for Agricultural Development
The International Fund for Agricultural Development , a specialized agency of the United Nations, was established as an international financial institution in 1977 as one of the major outcomes of the 1974 World Food Conference. IFAD is dedicated to eradicating rural poverty in developing countries...

, with the credit component implemented through Louis Berger International, Inc
Louis Berger Group
The Louis Berger Group, based in Morristown, NJ, according to their website:The Louis Berger Group currently ranks as the third largest USAID private sector partner....

. Dunham worked closely with the Lahore
Lahore
Lahore is the capital of the Pakistani province of Punjab and the second largest city in the country. With a rich and fabulous history dating back to over a thousand years ago, Lahore is no doubt Pakistan's cultural capital. One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Lahore remains a...

 office of the Punjab Small Industries Corporation (PSIC).

From January 1988 to 1995, Dunham was a consultant and research coordinator for Indonesia's oldest bank, Bank Rakyat Indonesia
Bank Rakyat Indonesia
Bank Rakyat Indonesia or PT. Bank Rakyat Indonesia , , is one of the larger banks in Indonesia. It specialises in small scale and microfinance style borrowing from and lending to its approximately 30 million retail clients through its over 4,000 branches, units and rural service posts...

 (BRI) in Jakarta, with her work funded by USAID and the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

. In March 1993, Dunham was a research and policy coordinator for Women's World Banking
Women's World Banking
Women’s World Banking spcial organisation is a nonprofit organization that provides strategic support, technical assistance and information to a global network of 40 independent microfinance institutions and banks that offer credit and other financial services to low-income entrepreneurs in the...

 (WWB) in New York. She helped WWB manage the Expert Group Meeting on Women and Finance in New York in January 1994, and helped the WWB take prominent roles in the UN's Fourth World Conference on Women
Fourth World Conference on Women
The United Nations convened the Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace on 4-15 September 1995 in Beijing, China. 189 governments and more than 5,000 representatives from 2,100 non-governmental organizations participated in the Conference...

 held September 4–15, 1995 in Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, and in the UN regional conferences and NGO forums that preceded it.

On August 9, 1992 she was awarded Ph.D.
Ph.D.
A Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy, an academic degree.Ph.D. may also refer to:* Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*Piled Higher and Deeper, a web comic strip*PhD: Phantasy Degree, a Korean comic series* PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 in anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 from the University of Hawaii, under the supervision of Prof. Alice Dewey, with a 1,043 page dissertation titled Peasant blacksmithing in Indonesia: surviving and thriving against all odds. Anthropologist Michael Dove described the dissertation as "a classic, in-depth, on-the-ground anthropological study of a 1,200-year-old industry". According to Dove, Dunham's dissertation challenged popular perceptions regarding economically and politically marginalized groups, and countered the notions that the roots of poverty lie with the poor themselves and that cultural differences are responsible for the gap between less-developed countries and the industrialized West. According to Dove, Dunham:
... found that the villagers she studied in Central Java had many of the same economic needs, beliefs and aspirations as the most capitalist of Westerners. Village craftsmen were "keenly interested in profits," she wrote, and entrepreneurship was “in plentiful supply in rural Indonesia,” having been “part of the traditional culture” there for a millennium.

Based on these observations, Dr. Soetoro concluded that underdevelopment in these communities resulted from a scarcity of capital, the allocation of which was a matter of politics, not culture. Antipoverty programs that ignored this reality had the potential, perversely, of exacerbating inequality because they would only reinforce the power of elites. As she wrote in her dissertation, "many government programs inadvertently foster stratification by channeling resources through village officials," who then used the money to strengthen their own status further.

Illness and death


In late 1994, Dunham was living and working in Indonesia. One night, during dinner at a friend's house in Jakarta, she experienced stomach pain. A visit to a local physician led to an initial diagnosis of indigestion. Dunham returned to the United States in early 1995 and was examined at the Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and diagnosed with uterine cancer
Uterine cancer
The term uterine cancer may refer to any of several different types of cancer which occur in the uterus, namely:*Uterine sarcomas: sarcomas of the myometrium, or muscular layer of the uterus, are most commonly leiomyosarcomas.*Endometrial cancer:...

. By this time, the cancer had spread to her ovaries. She moved back to Hawaii to live near her widowed mother and died on November 7, 1995, 22 days short of her 53rd birthday. Following a memorial service at the University of Hawaii, Obama and his sister spread their mother's ashes in the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 at Lanai Lookout
Koko Head
Koko Head is the headland that defines the eastern side of Maunalua Bay along the southeastern side of the Island of Oahu in Hawaii. On its western slope is the community of Portlock, a part of Hawaii Kai...

 on the south side of Oahu
Oahu
Oahu or Oahu , known as "The Gathering Place", is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands and most populous of the islands in the U.S. state of Hawaii. The state capital Honolulu is located on the southeast coast...

. Obama scattered the ashes of his grandmother (Madelyn Dunham) in the same spot on December 23, 2008, weeks after his election to the presidency.

Obama talked about Dunham's death in a 30-second campaign advertisement ("Mother") arguing for health care reform. The ad featured a photograph of Dunham holding a young Obama in her arms as Obama talks about her last days worrying about expensive medical bills. The topic also came up in a 2007 speech in Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County, California, United States. Situated on an east-west trending section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States, the city lies between the steeply-rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean...

:

I remember my mother. She was 52 years old when she died of ovarian cancer, and you know what she was thinking about in the last months of her life? She wasn’t thinking about getting well. She wasn't thinking about coming to terms with her own mortality. She had been diagnosed just as she was transitioning between jobs. And she wasn’t sure whether insurance was going to cover the medical expenses because they might consider this a preexisting condition. I remember just being heartbroken, seeing her struggle through the paperwork and the medical bills and the insurance forms. So, I have seen what it's like when somebody you love is suffering because of a broken health care system. And it's wrong. It's not who we are as a people.

Posthumous interest


In September 2008, the University of Hawaii at Mānoa
University of Hawaii at Manoa
The University of Hawaii at Mānoa is a public, co-educational university and is the flagship campus of the greater University of Hawaii system...

 held a symposium about Dunham. In December 2009, Duke University Press
Duke University Press
Duke University Press is an academic publisher of books and journals, and a unit of Duke University. It publishes approximately 120 books annually and more than 40 journals, as well as offering five electronic collections...

 published a version of Dunham's dissertation titled Surviving against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia. The book was revised and edited by Dunham's graduate advisor, Alice G. Dewey, and Nancy I. Cooper. Her daughter, Maya Soetoro-Ng
Maya Soetoro-Ng
Maya Kassandra Soetoro-Ng is the maternal half-sister of Barack Obama, the 44th and current President of the United States. She was previously a high school history teacher and university instructor in Hawaii.-Early life:...

, wrote the foreword for the book. In his afterword, Boston University
Boston University
Boston University is a private research university located in Boston, Massachusetts. With more than 4,000 faculty members and more than 31,000 students, Boston University is one of the largest private universities in the United States and one of Boston's largest employers...

 anthropologist Robert W. Hefner describes Dunham's research as "prescient" and her legacy as "relevant today for anthropology, Indonesian studies, and engaged scholarship". The book was launched at the 2009 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association
American Anthropological Association
The American Anthropological Association is a professional organization of scholars and practitioners in the field of anthropology. With 11,000 members, the Arlington, Virginia based association includes archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, biological anthropologists, linguistic...

 in Philadelphia with a special Presidential Panel on Dunham's work; The 2009 meeting was taped by C-SPAN
C-SPAN
C-SPAN , an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network, is an American cable television network that offers coverage of federal government proceedings and other public affairs programming via its three television channels , one radio station and a group of websites that provide streaming...

.

In 2009, an exhibition of Dunham's Javanese batik
Batik
Batik is a cloth that traditionally uses a manual wax-resist dyeing technique. Batik or fabrics with the traditional batik patterns are found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, China, Azerbaijan, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt, Nigeria, Senegal, and Singapore.Javanese traditional batik, especially from...

 textile collection (A Lady Found a Culture in its Cloth: Barack Obama's Mother and Indonesian Batiks) toured six museums in the United States, finishing the tour at the Textile Museum
Textile Museum
The Textile Museum is a private museum located in the Kalorama neighborhood of Northwest Washington, D.C., USA. The museum was founded by collector George Hewitt Myers in 1925 and is housed in two historic buildings: the Myers family home, designed by John Russell Pope, and an adjacent building...

 of Washington, D.C. in August. Early in her life, Dunham explored her interest in the textile arts as a weaver, creating wall hangings for her own enjoyment. After moving to Indonesia, she was attracted to the striking textile art of the batik and began to collect a variety of different fabrics.

Ann Dunham: A Most Generous Spirit, a feature documentary depicting Dunham's life, is scheduled to begin production in 2010. Charles Burnett
Charles Burnett
Charles Burnett may refer to:*Charles Burnett , American film director*Charles Burnett , Scottish Officer of Arms*Charles Burnett , Royal Air Force officer and Australian Chief of the Air Staff...

, writer and director of Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation
Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation
Namibia: The Struggle for Liberation is a 2007 epic film on the Namibian independence struggle against South African occupation as seen through the life of Sam Nujoma, the leader of the South-West Africa People's Organisation and the first president of the Republic of Namibia...

(2007) will direct the film. Shooting will take place on location in Indonesia, Hawaii and Washington. The production team is currently negotiating for the participation of President Barack Obama.
A lengthy major biography of Dunham by former New York Times reporter Janny Scott, titled A Singular Woman, was published in 2011.

Personal beliefs


In his 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father
Dreams from My Father
Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance is a memoir by United States President Barack Obama. It was first published in July 1995 as he was preparing to launch his political career, five years after being elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review in...

, Barack Obama wrote, "My mother's confidence in needlepoint virtues depended on a faith I didn't possess... In a land [Indonesia] where fatalism remained a necessary tool for enduring hardship... she was a lonely witness for secular humanism, a soldier for New Deal, Peace Corps, position-paper liberalism." In his 2006 book The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream is the second book written by then-Senator Barack Obama. In the fall of 2006 it became number one on both the New York Times and Amazon.com bestsellers lists after Obama was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. In the book, Obama expounds on...

Obama wrote, "I was not raised in a religious household... My mother's own experiences... only reinforced this inherited skepticism. Her memories of the Christians who populated her youth were not fond ones... And yet for all her professed secularism, my mother was in many ways the most spiritually awakened person that I've ever known." "Religion for her was "just one of the many ways — and not necessarily the best way — that man attempted to control the unknowable and understand the deeper truths about our lives," Obama wrote.

Dunham's daughter, Maya Soetoro-Ng, when asked later if her mother was an atheist, said, "I wouldn't have called her an atheist. She was an agnostic. She basically gave us all the good books — the Bible, the Hindu Upanishads and the Buddhist scripture, the Tao Te Ching — and wanted us to recognize that everyone has something beautiful to contribute." "Jesus, she felt, was a wonderful example. But she felt that a lot of Christians behaved in un-Christian ways." On the other hand, Maxine Box, Dunham's best friend in high school, said that Dunham "touted herself [then] as an atheist, and it was something she'd read about and could argue. She was always challenging and arguing and comparing. She was already thinking about things that the rest of us hadn't."

In a 2007 speech, Obama contrasted the beliefs of his mother to those of her parents, and commented on her spirituality and skepticism: "My mother, whose parents were nonpracticing Baptists and Methodists, was one of the most spiritual souls I ever knew. But she had a healthy skepticism of religion as an institution."

Obama also described his own beliefs in relation to the religious upbringing of his mother and father:

My father was from Kenya and a lot of people in his village were Muslim. He didn’t practice Islam. Truth is he wasn’t very religious. He met my mother. My mother was a Christian from Kansas, and they married and then divorced. I was raised by my mother. So, I’ve always been a Christian. The only connection I’ve had to Islam is that my grandfather on my father’s side came from that country. But I’ve never practiced Islam.

Further reading