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When the Cornell Modern Indonesia Project (CMIP) published its first title in 1956, the nation of Indonesia was new, for the country had only recently emerged from the Japanese Occupation and finally won independence from the Dutch. Contemporary Indonesian society and politics were in flux, and scholars trying to keep pace with the rapid changes found themselves hampered by a lack of research materials. CMIP.s early "Interim Reports" were intended to address this dilemma.

Professor George Kahin's introduction to the first "Interim Report" describes the concerns and intentions of CMIP's editors. Prof. Kahin noted that, "With respect to much of the research carried out in post-revolutionary Indonesia, there has been a lag of two to three or more years between the termination of field work and the first publication describing the results of this work" and " ... the delay has been particularly regrettable inasmuch as the extent of research [on Indonesia] being undertaken is so limited." For this reason, the editors proposed to invite researchers to make their findings available in a provisional form, as CMIP "Interim Reports," or working papers, before the publication of their finished books.

From these early Interim Reports, an impressive series of studies on modern Indonesia developed. CMIP titles fall into four categories: Interim Reports, Translations, Monographs, and Bibliographies. The Interim Reports deal with topics ranging from the bloody 1965 coup that unseated Sukarno and elevated General Suharto, to the Japanese Occupation, elections, decentralization, foreign policy, the role of the nation's armed forces, and the status of Chinese citizens in Indonesia. Original documents translated and published by CMIP include speeches from independence leaders such as Sukarno, Sjahrir, and Hatta, as well as significant studies authored by Indonesian intellectuals, economists, and politicians. CMIP Monographs tend to focus on contemporary Indonesian politics, but include anthropological and social analyses as well. The Bibliographies illuminate a range of works that were important to research on Indonesia in the middle of the century and after. Taken together, these publications offer a detailed and varied portrait of the gestation, birth, and development of an independent Southeast Asian nation in the twentieth century.