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A Life Beyond Boundaries

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About the Author

Benedict Anderson (1936-2015) was Aaron L. Binenkorp Professor of International Studies Emeritus at Cornell University. He was Editor of the journal Indonesia and author of Java in a Time of Revolution; The Spectre of Comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia, and the World; The Age of Globalization: Anarchists and the Anticolonial Imagination; and Imagined Communities.


"Everything Anderson wrote was boldly original, challenging assumptions by uncovering a neglected or suppressed voice. He was never content to tell an audience what they wanted to hear." - Guardian "Benedict Anderson transformed the study of nationalism ... and was renowned not only for his theoretical contributions but also for his detailed examinations of language and power in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines." - New York Times "Anderson, who died late last year, had an intuitive sympathy for nationalism's anti-imperial origins. This was underpinned by his view of history, which was shaped by a rare and unfamiliar perspective. At the time of Imagined Communities' publication, he was a political scientist at the centre of the small community of westerners working on Southeast Asia. Not only his training but also his family background had equipped him, in ways his posthumously published memoir A Life Beyond Boundaries makes clear, to understand nationalism's extraordinary insurgent appeal." - Financial Times "Engaging and winningly modest memoir... [full of] canny and pertinent observations on modern academia: the prevalence of jargon and the lack of language skills. Poignantly, he tells us how lucky he feels about his achievements. We should feel the same." - Prospect Magazine "[A Life Beyond Boundaries] is a neat and tidy book about his unusual trajectory and sensibility, infused with inside jokes, idiosyncratic asides, and sly humor. It is also a tart overview of academic life. But mostly the memoir is a primer for cosmopolitanism and an argument for traversing geographical, historical, linguistic, and disciplinary borders." - Scott Sherman, The Nation "Throughout his memoir, Anderson's writing is gentlemanly, kind, laced with jokes and vignettes of his favourite interviews, like those he conducted with two Indonesian brothers who exemplified the almost incestuous politics in Jakarta - one was the head of army intelligence, the other a member of the politburo of the Communist party of Indonesia." - Guardian "The global need for transnational solidarity is a project toward which Anderson wishes to bring continued attention. Therein... lies the transformative quality of the book... Anderson's reflections offer tools for challenging the simplified outlook of globalization and, in his own words, recognizing the 'emancipatory possibilities of both nationalism and internationalism.'" - Trevor Jackson, Socialism and Democracy "Anderson is an enemy of the bubble, whether nation, school or language. He returns again and again to an image in Thai and Indonesian cultures of a frog who lives its entire life under half of a coconut shell . . Reading Anderson feels like emerging from a coconut shell.'" Economist "A charming, insightful and short memoir that also brings his ideas and arguments up to the present day." Times Higher Education

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