Studying Indonesia was not always easy for the late Benedict Richard O'Gorman Anderson, or Ben Anderson, who was banned from entering the country by the New Order regime due to his criticism of Soeharto's dictatorship.
The US expert on Indonesian politics, or Indonesianist, was only allowed to visit the country of his academic interest again in 1999, following the fall of Soeharto's regime.
Anderson passed away at the age of 79 in Batu, Malang, East Java, at around 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, kompas.com reported. Information of his death appeared on Twitter and Facebook accounts of publisher Marjin Kiri, which will launch Anderson's book entitled 'Di Bawah Tiga Bendera' (Under Three Flags). Anderson had come to Indonesia to attend the launch of his book.
Two days before his passing, Anderson gave a lecture entitled 'Anarchism and Socialism' at the University of Indonesia. On its Facebook account, publisher Marjin Kiri said that Anderson died in a hotel in Batu when he was taking a break after walking around the city.
Born in Kunming, China, on Aug. 26, 1936, Anderson was known as an Indonesianist with a special interest on the country's modern history. Together with Ruth Macvey, Anderson published an academic paper called 'A Preliminary Analysis of the October 1, 1965 Coup in Indonesia', also known as the 'Cornell Paper', in which they presented a thorough analysis on the causes of an aborted coup d'Ã©tat attempt, known today as the September 30 Movement. The paper depicted the events quite differently from what had been conveyed by the New Order regime.
Anderson's adoptive son, Wahyu Yudistira, said the political expert did not suffer any illness. 'He was old. He might have been really tired. He was probably exhausted,' said Wahyu as quoted by kompas.com.
Wahyu said Anderson had been in East Java for a nostalgic visit to several places he had visited before, such as Mpu Tantular Museum in Sidoarjo and Belahan Temple in Mojokerto.
On Sunday morning, Anderson's body was taken to Surabaya from Malang to be laid in rest at his relative's house. His body will be cremated and the ashes scattered at the Java Sea, as he had requested.
'His family has been informed [over Anderson's death]. They will come to Indonesia as soon as possible. I and our family are preparing the cremation,' said Wahyu.
During his life, Anderson was known as the most outstanding Southeast Asian expert in the world. His book "Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism" won acclaim as a classic work on social and political science. Anderson's other outstanding works include "Java in a Time of Revolution", "Debating World Literature", and "Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia". (ebf)