You are here

Ben Anderson Tribute by Adam Messer (PhD 1990)

Dear Ben,

I'm not sure if you saw the note I sent you a couple of months ago. You might remember me from decades ago--I was the entomologist who buzzed off to Indonesia for three years of fieldwork, fortified by my minor in Southeast Asian studies.  You agreed to serve on my committee, for which I am grateful, and encouraged me to research and write on Indonesian history of science at the time of the revolution.

During my time at Cornell you were very involved with Timor-Leste.  So I hope you will smile when I tell you that I am writing from Dili, ahead of a planned four-year assignment.  (It's my wife's USAID gig.) One of the Timorese I met yesterday recalled meeting you in Vienna in the early '90s, and he told me about how much your research and vocal support boosted the cause.

Given how thoroughly you documented the US military support of Indonesia's invasion of Timor-Leste, I think you will find this amusing:  for a few years I worked as a DoD analyst.  I introduced Imagined Communities into our operational design curriculum, and your theories guided our approach to some of our challenges.  I'm sorry I never got a photo of anyone in BDUs with the book.

Thanks again for your guidance, teaching, friendship, coruscating humor, recommendation letters, and causing so much inspiration and insight.

Salam dari jauh.

Adam Messer PhD 1990