Indonesia-Malaysia Relations: Cultural Heritage, Politics and Labour Migration, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Indonesia-Malaysia Relations

Cultural Heritage, Politics and Labour Migration, 1st Edition

By Marshall Clark, Juliet Pietsch


240 pages | 21 B/W Illus.

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Drawing on social media, cinema, cultural heritage and public opinion polls, this book examines Indonesia and Malaysia from a comparative postcolonial perspective. The Indonesia–Malaysia relationship is one of the most important bilateral relationships in Southeast Asia, especially because Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country and third largest democracy, is the most populous and powerful nation in the region. Both states are committed to the relationship, especially at the highest levels of government, and much has been made of their ‘sibling’ identity. The relationship is built on years of interaction at all levels of state and society, and both countries draw on their common culture, religion and language in managing political tensions. In recent years, however, several issues have seriously strained the once cordial bilateral relationship. Among these are a strong public reaction to maritime boundary disputes, claims over each country’s cultural forms, the treatment of Indonesian workers in Malaysia, and trans-border issues such as Indonesian forest fire haze. Comparing the two nations’ engagement with cultural heritage, religion, gender, ethnicity, citizenship, democracy and regionalism, this book highlights the social and historical roots of the tensions between Indonesia and Malaysia, as well as the enduring sense of kinship.


"In 2015 extensive forest fires in Indonesia blanketed Southeast Asia in a thick haze that lasted for months. The haze problem is a recurring transnational issue that this book discusses as well as other disputes, such as those over cultural icons in Southeast Asia….It is a significant contribution to our understanding of the complex love-hate relationship between Indonesia and Malaysia."

Sadiah Boonstra, Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia

Table of Contents

1. Uneasy Neighbours 2. Language and Mythology 3. Cultural Contestations 4. Museums 5. Islam 6. Ethnicity 7. Citizenship 8. Regionalism 9. Democracy Conclusion

About the Authors

Marshall Clark is Director of the Australian National Internships Program and a Senior Lecturer at the School of Politics and International Relations at the Australian National University. He is the author of Maskulinitas: Culture, Gender and Politics in Indonesia.

Juliet Pietsch is a Senior Lecturer of Political Science at the School of Politics and International Relations at the Australian National University. Juliet is a Principal Investigator of the Australian Election Study, the World Values Survey and the National Asian Australian Survey.

About the Series

Media, Culture and Social Change in Asia

The aim of this series is to publish original, high-quality work by both new and established scholars in the West and the East, on all aspects of media, culture and social change in Asia. New proposals are welcome, and should be sent in the first instance to the series editor, Stephanie Donald, at

Editorial Board:

Gregory N. Evon, University of New South Wales
Devleena Ghosh, University of Technology, Sydney
Michael Keane, Curtin University
Tania Lewis, RMIT University, Melbourne
Vera Mackie, University of Wollongong
Kama Maclean, University of New South Wales

Laikwan Pang, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Gary Rawnsley, Aberystwyth University
Ming-yeh Rawnsley, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Jo Tacchi, Loughborough University
Adrian Vickers, University of Sydney
Jing Wang, MIT
Ying Zhu, Hong Kong Baptist University



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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General