The Idea of Indonesia

Indonesia the nation-state is a miraculous and unlikely construction. At first sight, the material for national unity could not be more unpromising; its history is marred by deep and often bloody internal disputation based on ideology, ethnicity, religion, and region. Yet Indonesia, as concept and as nation-state, endures and is, perhaps, beginning once again to thrive. R. E. Elson, one of the leading figures in the field, seeks to discover the origins of the idea of Indonesia in the mid-nineteenth century and explores its often vexed and troubled trajectory through to the present time. He examines why Indonesia exists, against the odds, as a nation-state, and in what different forms it has existed, seeking to explain the nation's character as it has struggled for unity and purpose. The analysis provides a chronological narrative which examines Indonesian politics, its political elites and their relationship with the Indonesian people.

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Elson bites off a lot, and there is a lot to digest here: Indonesian historians will refer to this book for years to come.... For my colleagues who want to learn the political history of modern Indonesia, I cannot think of a better guide than R. E. Elson." - History: Review of New Books

"Elson makes an important contribution to understanding how a new Asia emerged from WWII.... Recommended." - Choice

Book Description

Indonesia the nation-state is a miraculous and unlikely construction. R. E. Elson seeks to discover the origins of the idea of Indonesia in the mid-nineteenth century and explores its often vexed and troubled trajectory through to the present time.

About the Author

R. E. Elson is Professor of Southeast Asian History at the School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, The University of Queensland, Australia. He has written extensively on the modern history of Indonesia and Southeast Asia and his previous publications include Suharto: A Political Biography (2002) and The End of Peasantry in Southeast Asia: A Social and Economic History of Peasant Livelihood, 1800-1990s (1997).

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