Southeast Asian scholar Benedict Anderson, famous for book about nationalism, dies at 79

Benedict Anderson, a Cornell University scholar who became one of the most influential voices in the fields of nationalism and Southeast Asian studies, has died at the age of 79.

Indonesian media reported that Anderson died Sunday during a visit to the Indonesian city of Malang. His death was confirmed on the Facebook page of Thai historian Charnvit Kasetsiri, his close friend and colleague. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Anderson is best known for his 1983 book "Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism," whose controversial thesis is that nationalism is largely a modern concept rooted in language and literacy.

Born in 1936 in Kunming, China, Anderson grew up in California and was educated at Cambridge and Cornell.