I hope there’s a heaven.
Actually, I always hope there’s a heaven, but today in particular, I
hope there’s a heaven, and Ann Dunham is looking down, seeing her
dissertation get turned into a book.
For those of you who don’t have three different framed Obama campaign
posters in your house, Ann Dunham is Barack’s mother, who died in 1995.
Today’s Chronicle of Higher Education reports that her 1992 dissertation
about village industries in Indonesia is being published by Duke
Sure, it looks easy now, when her son is the President, and her daughter
has a PhD. And without that son, it’s pretty unlikely that this would be
happening. But even so, I imagine her then, a single mother, doing her
fieldwork and plugging away at those 1000+ (!) pages, that ended up in
the box-full of floppy disks that her daughter came across while
cleaning out a closet. That level of determination, diligence and drive
makes winning the Iowa primary look like a day at the beach.
I was lucky enough to have a dissertation advisor, Michelle Fine, who
pushed me to revise my dissertation to make it publishable, and hooked
me up with a friend of hers who ran a small press. Over the years that
followed, I would occasionally have the thrill of hearing that my book
had been assigned in a course, and I even made a few thousand dollars.
This far exceeded my expectation that my dissertation would sit, utterly
unread, somewhere in the bowels of the University of Michigan.
I suppose for Ms. Dunham, the joy in this accomplishment would pale next
to the sight of seeing her son take the oath of office last January 20.
But even so, I hope she knows.