In Indonesia, she supported radical groups opposed to the military dictatorship.
A feature-length movie about her life, Stanley Ann Dunham: A Most Generous Spirit, goes into production next year.
"She wanted to know why people do things and how they do what they do – applied anthropology," says Alice Dewey, Dunham's Ph D supervisor.
This is Pucung, a remote Indonesian village where skeletal leather puppets, some of Indonesia's best-known handicrafts, are made. Ann Dunham, too, was famous for her shock of black hair, which she claimed came from a trace of Cherokee blood in her veins.
Barack Obama's mother also did more for social justice in her adopted Indonesia than her son's accounts suggest."What is best in me, I owe to her," the 44th US President acknowledged in the second edition of his memoir Dreams From My Father.
The young mother, aged 24, and six-year-old Barack arrived in Jakarta to join Soetoro at a difficult time.
The Muslim nation was in turmoil after the bloody coup in 1965 that brought General Suharto to power.The family moved to Hawaii where she met her first husband, Barack Obama Snr, at university.After their brief marriage ended, Dunham returned to complete her anthropology degree and met Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian student who would become her second husband.Kneeling in front of a mosque on a public stage, the terrified woman was struck an agonizing 26 times in the country’s Aceh province.According to news reports, she cried out after each cruel blow and at one point seemed to be on the verge of collapse.The country today is a world leader in micro-credit.