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Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia Hardcover – December, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0822346876 ISBN-10: 0822346877 Edition: 0th

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Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia + A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Duke University Press (December 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822346877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822346876
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,459,849 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“To write a biography without mentioning the subject’s name in the title is unusual, just as irregular, in fact, as publishing a serious work of anthropology, entitled Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia, with a portrait of the author splashed on the cover. But then the author of that academic book, the late Stanley Ann Dunham, an expert on the economics of Indonesian crafts, bore a startling resemblance to President Obama—the same long chin, the slight quizzical tilt of the head, the prominent eyebrows. Which is not surprising, since she was his mother. The scholarly book based on her Ph.D. thesis, which contains much excellent firsthand description of life in remote Javanese villages, is of great interest to specialists, and would probably have been picked up by a university press anyway.” - Ian Buruma, New York Review of Books


“[T]his book is a fascinating and important scholarly piece of work. It’s a good reminder that Ann not only had a sharp intellect, but was a perfectionist as well, and a hard-working one at that. Her work is extremely well-documented, with hard statistical data making her book extremely detailed and well informed. At the same time, Ann’s book—like her—is deeply empathetic. Full of evocative descriptions of the lives of the villagers she worked with, the book is a testament of her commitment to the development of the lives of rural and marginalized peoples all around the world. Ann was an internationalist with a global outlook, but it was Indonesia and its people that became the love of her life, and her passion also comes through in her book, something all too rare in academic writing.” - Julia Suryakusuma, Jakarta Post


“[T]he editors and Duke University Press did a wonderful job with this book. It is lovingly put together, and it will become the definitive source for anyone wanting to understand the ethical and intellectual make-up of Dunham, as well as blacksmithing and more generally village crafts in Indonesia. . . . This book—an estimable ethnography in its own right—is of unique interest precisely for . . . for the light it sheds on how Dr. Dunham’s work may have shaped her son and, thereby, his presidency.” - Michael Dove, Anthropological Quarterly


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


“S. Ann Dunham’s Surviving against the Odds bears witness to her knowledge of and affection for the Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia. The book also speaks legions about Dunham’s integrity as a cultural anthropologist. . . . By the mid-1980s Dunham had begun to see the audience for her work as made up of not just academics but Indonesians, aid workers, and foreign analysts whose findings affect the lives of ordinary Indonesians. Rather than go with the academic flow, Dunham stayed true to a research program requiring varied and rigorous methodologies, all in an effort to speak truth to power and policy making.”—Robert W. Hefner, Boston University, president of the Association for Asian Studies, from the afterword


“The greetings that the village women exchanged with Mom conveyed an intimacy that made clear they had fully taken each other’s measure. Their connection had been established to a sufficient degree for laughter to be easy. Mom had come to a real understanding with them, it seemed, and not just the women; she was welcomed and trusted by all. This made me proud, I remember, for many of the same reasons my pride swells at the sight of my brother, our president; Mom too moved with such ease through every world, and people opened up at the sight of her smile.”—Maya Soetoro-Ng, daughter of S. Ann Dunham and sister of President Barack Obama, from the foreword


“[T]he editors and Duke University Press did a wonderful job with this book. It is lovingly put together, and it will become the definitive source for anyone wanting to understand the ethical and intellectual make-up of Dunham, as well as blacksmithing and more generally village crafts in Indonesia. . . . This book—an estimable ethnography in its own right—is of unique interest precisely for . . . for the light it sheds on how Dr. Dunham’s work may have shaped her son and, thereby, his presidency.”
(Michael Dove, Anthropological Quarterly)

“[T]his book is a fascinating and important scholarly piece of work. It’s a good reminder that Ann not only had a sharp intellect, but was a perfectionist as well, and a hard-working one at that. Her work is extremely well-documented, with hard statistical data making her book extremely detailed and well informed. At the same time, Ann’s book—like her—is deeply empathetic. Full of evocative descriptions of the lives of the villagers she worked with, the book is a testament of her commitment to the development of the lives of rural and marginalized peoples all around the world. Ann was an internationalist with a global outlook, but it was Indonesia and its people that became the love of her life, and her passion also comes through in her book, something all too rare in academic writing.”
(Julia Suryakusuma, Jakarta Post)

“To write a biography without mentioning the subject’s name in the title is unusual, just as irregular, in fact, as publishing a serious work of anthropology, entitled Surviving Against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia, with a portrait of the author splashed on the cover. But then the author of that academic book, the late Stanley Ann Dunham, an expert on the economics of Indonesian crafts, bore a startling resemblance to President Obama—the same long chin, the slight quizzical tilt of the head, the prominent eyebrows. Which is not surprising, since she was his mother. The scholarly book based on her Ph.D. thesis, which contains much excellent firsthand description of life in remote Javanese villages, is of great interest to specialists, and would probably have been picked up by a university press anyway.”
(Ian Buruma, New York Review of Books)

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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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
S Anne's field work is a very interesting read.
Mary E. Gormican
I am not an anthropologist, and for that reason the language of anthropologists make this a slow read for me.
Patricia
It's very well written and its message is very accessible.
Kitty Fane

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Sullivan on February 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
S Ann Dunham broke new ground with her important book about village industry in Indonesia--aptly titled Surviving Against the Odds. It got published because her son is now the president of the United States--but it is important in its own right and no doubt would have been published sooner had she lived to do it. The tensions between traditional skills and modernizing life and how traditional village industry and those who carry it out survive is an on-going issue. Her emphasis on the importance of micro finance was among the early work on the subject. Worth reading by those interested in Indonesia generally, mystical arts--the magical making of the kris, the ceremonial short weapon that is enbued with power in a traditional sense, and in the issues of development and the role of traditional village industry in that.
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32 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Kitty Fane on December 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
It's very well written and its message is very accessible. People will be moved by her story and will love to have this book. It will also shed light on part of President Obama's legacy and why his life brings something different to the presidency. The book is published with an initial print run of 10,000 copies.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Patricia on December 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I worked my way through this book and am glad for it. The book helped me understand President Obama, and as well the thorough work that his mother did in Indonesia. I am not an anthropologist, and for that reason the language of anthropologists make this a slow read for me. But, I am fascinated by small cottage industry, and those who follow it, especially in very patriarchal societies. I think it might be difficult to really grasp this work if you haven't visited Indonesia or countries similar to Indonesia, with a huge city and then many rural areas, but that should not stop people from working their way through.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book because I wanted to know more about President Obama's mother, and I certainly learned a lot. For example, I didn't know that Ann Dunham had a PhD. She did earn one at the University of Hawaii. I had heard she studied under the daughter of John Dewey, but now learned it was actually Dewey's stepdaughter. Alice Dewey, besides being raised be a famous communitist, was also an authority on Indonesia, and accompanied the author there. Perhaps it was Dewey's interest in Indonesia that put Ann onto the topic in the first place.

And Ann Dunham puts a lot of emphasis on "income equality" into her details of village life in Indonesia. So besides learning a lot about that country, I also learned that maybe our president's core beliefs actually had their origin with John Dewey, as well as with his leftist African father.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By James C. Hershey on April 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A through discussion of how ancient techniques are being used to develop profitable industries in third world countries around the world.
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