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Benedict Anderson (1936–2015)

The scholar Benedict Anderson died this morning in Batu, Malang, East Java, reports He was seventy-nine. Anderson had given what was likely his final public lecture, “Anarchism and Nationalism,” days before at the University of Indonesia, according to the Twitter feed of anthropologist Michael Oman-Reagan. At the time of his death he was the Aaron L. Binenkorb Professor Emeritus of International Studies, Government, and Asian Studies at Cornell University.

Anderson’s research often focused on Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, but he is perhaps best known for his 1983 book Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism. He was the author of a number of other significant works, including Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination (2005) and The Fate of Rural Hell: Asceticism and Desire in Buddhist Thailand (2012); he also contributed an essay to the 2009 book on filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, edited by James Quandt. According to, Anderson had been banned from entering Indonesia from 1973 until after Suharto’s resignation as president in 1998, due to his “analysis and critical views of the regime,” principally a publication he wrote with Ruth McVey, published in 1971, titled “A Preliminary Analysis of the October 1, 1965, Coup in Indonesia,” also known as the “Cornell Paper.” In 1994, Anderson was made a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 1998 he was presented an award for Distinguished Contributions by the Association for Asian Studies.

After a successful debut in Japan, the English-language version of Anderson’s A Life Beyond the Boundaries: A Memoir is scheduled to be published by Verso in July 2016.