R.I.P. Benedict Anderson, 1936-2015

Over at the New York Times:

Benedict Anderson, a Cornell University scholar who became one of the most influential voices in the fields of nationalism and Southeast Asian studies, died Sunday in Indonesia. He was 79.

Anderson died in his sleep during a visit to the city of Malang, Indonesian media reported. The cause of death was not immediately known.

“This is to inform you that Ben Anderson has passed away in Java: the land and its people he loves most,” Thai historian Charnvit Kasetsiri, Anderson's close friend and colleague, said in an email to fellow scholars. Indonesians reacted with an outpouring of tributes on Twitter and Facebook.

Anderson is best known for his 1983 book “Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism,” whose admired but debated thesis is that nationalism is largely a modern concept rooted in language and literacy. Its publisher, Verso Books, said it had been translated into more than two dozen languages.

“Many readers of 'Imagined Communities' did not know that his knowledge of Southeast Asian languages gave him insights into Indonesian, Thai, and Philippine political culture and history,” said Prof. Craig J. Reynolds of Australian National University.

Anderson's influence was not limited to the sphere of theory, as he engaged with the contentious issues of the day with a rigorous analysis and dry wit that inspired his students.

More here.

Corey Robin over at his website has some thoughts:

All morning, people from so many different fields and persuasions have been testifying to Anderson’s impact upon them and their work. Which leads to a thought: I’d put Anderson up there with Clifford Geertz and, increasingly, Jim Scott as among the most influential scholars of the last half-century. All of them scholars of Southeast Asia. I’m sure other people have noticed this and/or perhaps written about this, so forgive my saying the obvious, but what is it about that region that has made it such a site of transformative scholarship and fertile reflection?