"She gathered friends from high and low, took long walks, stared at the moon and foraged through local markets for some trifle, a scarf or stone carving that would make her laugh or please the eye." There is more than a hint of superficiality; a sense that his mother was a hippy chick.What Mr Obama's narrative omits is any detail of how Ann Dunham was an economic anthropologist and that for 30 years she devoted herself to studying rural enterprise in Indonesia.In Indonesia, she supported radical groups opposed to the military dictatorship.

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After her ordeal, the woman collapsed into the arms of two women. Aceh is the only province in Indonesia where Sharia law is allowed.

In addition to sex outside marriage, gay sex, gambling and boozing will all get you caned in Aceh. A young Indonesian woman was brutally caned in public for having sex outside marriage.

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.

But Dunham has been little more than a footnote in his extraordinary story.

In the preface, Mr Obama wrote: "She travelled the world, working in the distant villages, helping women buy a sewing machine or a milk cow or an education that might give them a foothold in the world's economy." But he chose to highlight a dreaminess in his mother.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.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.In addition to sex outside marriage, gay sex, gambling and boozing will all get you caned in Aceh.