Friday, March 14, 2008

Ann Soetaro and anthropology in Hawaii

The NYT of March 14, 2008, has this article about Ann Soetoro, now famous as the mother of presidential candidate Barack Obama.

I meet Ann when we were both graduate students at the University of Hawaii. In the summer of 1986, I was writing my Master's Thesis and she was working on her Doctoral Dissertation. Years later, writing my own dissertation, I thought often of a conversation we had about how different writing a thesis or dissertation was from writing reports on development projects. Both of us were used to writing under a deadline for a project, but this thesis thing was different. As Ann put it, every sentence had to be considered, all facts in that sentence proved - it took a lot longer than either of us anticipated!

She was respected in the Anthropology Department at the University of Hawaii. She was both highly creative and deeply meticulous. She was an excellent scholar and a socially involved human being. I really admired her. This article does a nice job of capturing who she was -- in just three short pages.

I also remember her talking very proudly of her son. Who could imagine I'd be hearing so much about him years later!

I also enjoyed this article because of the quotes from lots of old colleagues, friends, and teachers.

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