Indonesian scholar

By The Economist online

Chronicle of a life unforetold

A Life Beyond Boundaries. By Benedict Anderson. Verso; 205 pages; $24.95 and £14.99.

IN SOUTH-EAST Asia Benedict Anderson, who died last December aged 79, was an intellectual giant. In 1966 he was part of a team at Cornell University that published an influential report on what really happened during the violent takeover of Indonesia in October of the previous year. The report was leaked to the Washington Post and Anderson was eventually barred from entering the country.

He remained cut off from Indonesia for 27 years until the fall of Suharto’s dictatorship. But he found new passions, studying Thailand and the Philippines. In 1983 his meandering studies and wide reading led him to write the book he is most famous for, “Imagined Communities”, which explores the enduring allure of nationalism.

Outside South-East Asian circles, Anderson’s prolific and diverse output is more obscure. This should change with the publication of his memoir, “A Life Beyond Boundaries”. As the title suggests, Anderson is an enemy of the…

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