The New Nationalism in Indonesia

Asia & The Pacific Policy Studies

Author/s (editor/s):

Edward Aspinall

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A new nationalist mood is visible in Indonesia, expressed in increasingly bellicose rejection of alleged foreign interference in Indonesia's affairs and in demands for greater international recognition of Indonesia's power and status. This new mood has been visible for several years, but became particularly marked during the 2014 presidential election and under the new Joko Widodo administration. This article analyses Indonesia's new nationalism, especially as manifested in economic, cultural and territorial spheres, noting both continuities with past episodes, and novel features. A chief novelty is contemporary nationalism's markedly non-ideological and non-intellectual form; continuity is visible in its discursive style, with many contemporary nationalists anachronistically reproducing tropes rooted in earlier periods. The article concludes by identifying forces driving the contemporary resurgence of nationalism, notably the effects of democratisation as well as deeper feelings of insecurity about Indonesia's achievements.

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