I am grateful to John Butcher, Renée Worringer, Clive Moore, and C.K. Lai for their comments on an earlier version of this article.
Indonesia and the West: an Ambivalent, Misunderstood Engagement*
Article first published online: 13 JUN 2006
Australian Journal of Politics & History
Volume 52, Issue 2, pages 261–271, June 2006
How to Cite
Elson, R.E. (2006), Indonesia and the West: an Ambivalent, Misunderstood Engagement. Australian Journal of Politics & History, 52: 261–271. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8497.2005.00418.x
- Issue published online: 13 JUN 2006
- Article first published online: 13 JUN 2006
- Cited By
The relationship between Indonesia and the West has always been deeply ambivalent. On the one hand, Indonesia, since it began its search for modernity a century or so ago, has always felt a deep attraction for things Western, which promised technological mastery and economic success which might overcome the humiliation of colonial subjection. On the other hand, Indonesians were wary that any engagement that ran too deep and uncritically might prejudice their own specific sense of identity. That ambivalence was deepened and consolidated by Indonesia's own failure to develop and deepen the legitimacy, both domestic and international, of the state that its leaders had created as the vehicle of becoming modern. As a result, Indonesia's engagement with the West remained uncertain in style and often characterised by the unhelpful stridency that issues from insecurity.