The kinship factor in international relations : kinship, identity construction, and nation formation in Indonesia-Malaysia relations
This thesis addresses the question of why the kinship factor has not been able to provide a viable basis upon which Indonesia-Malaysia relations can be organised, despite the fact that the language of kinship continues to frame diplomatic discourse between the two "kin states". As a study of the phenomenon of kinship in international relations, the thesis discusses the basis of kinship discourse in Indonesia-Malaysia relations, how kinship was politicised in terms of its conceptualisation and application, and why its dominant motif has been rivalry more than harmony, despite its regular evocation. In order to understand the kinship factor as a political phenomenon in Indonesia-Malaysia relations, four issues are considered: (1) the anthropological and sociological nature of kinship, (2) the politicisation of kinship in terms of the perception and interpretation of its attendant expectations and obligations, (3) the association of the kinship factor with the historical process of identity building and nation formation in Indonesia and Malaysia, and (4) the discrepancies between popular pressures to emphasise kinship, which imply extra-national loyalties, and the political calculations of leaders based on conceptions of sovereignty. Consequently, the study makes the observation that despite the fact that there is a basis upon which to define Indonesia and Malaysia as kin states, their "special relationship" has been characterised predominantly by tension. It argues that this state of affairs has been a consequence of the perceived failure of these kin states to fulfil the expectations and obligations of kinship. This, in turn, has been borne of fundamental differences in their respective historical experiences and the forging of their national identities, which contravened the loyalties wrought by the kinship factor. Having said that, there remain avenues for co-identification on the basis of kinship, particularly in reference to the influence of the "Chinese factor" that has traditionally been a cause for concern for the national identities and security of Indonesia and Malaysia.