The break-up of Indonesia? Nationalisms after decolonisation and the limits of the nation-state in post-cold war Southeast Asia

Edward Aspinall, Mark T. Berger

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    One noteworthy feature of the political crisis in Indonesia, which followed the Asian financial crisis of 1997 was the speed with which the collapse of the Suharto government was subsumed by a wider crisis of the Indonesian nation-state. One aspect of this crisis is the strengthening of secessionist movements in several regions of Indonesia, calling into question the country's national boundaries, themselves a legacy of the Dutch colonial era. This article examines the tensions in the nation-building efforts of the Indonesian state by focusing on the three territories where secessionist movements have been strongest: East Timor, which has already successfully broken away from Indonesia, and Irian Jaya and Aceh, where long-standing secessionist movements experienced significant growth in the aftermath of the resignation of President Suharto on 21 May 1998. Our analysis emphasises that these secessionist movements arose in direct response to the ways in which the Indonesian state, especially during the Suharto period, went about the tasks of nation-building. In particular, each movement was to a large degree fuelled by brutal and indiscriminate state violence. At the same time, each has been greatly affected by global trends of decolonisation, the Cold War and its aftermath. The distinct timing and manner of each territory's incorporation into the Indonesian nation-state has had a profound influence on the character of, and appeals made by, each movement, as well as on their prospects for gaining support from the wider international system
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1003-1024
    JournalThird World Quarterly
    Volume22
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2001

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