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Title: The political thought of Tan Malaka
Author: Crawford, Oliver
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 3815
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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In the course of a fairly brief lifetime, lasting only a little over fifty years (1897-1949), Tan Malaka was variously a schoolteacher, the chair of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), a Comintern agent, a political exile, and a revolutionary leader. He travelled the world, living for spells in the Netherlands, Germany, Russia, China, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Tan Malaka's colourful life and political career have attracted comment from historians, but there has not yet been an in-depth treatment of his ideas, even though he produced a large corpus of writings and was acknowledged to be among the foremost political intellects of his generation in Indonesia. This thesis is an analysis and contextualization of Tan Malaka's political thought. It places his writings within a series of contemporary debates: on the nature of the Indonesian past and the country's potential for revolution; on imperialism and the post-colonial future of Asia; on the relationship between Islam, capitalism, and Communism; on the reformation of Indonesian thinking; and on the appropriate strategy and goals for the Indonesian revolution. These debates, and Tan Malaka's interventions within them, reveal that Indonesia during the 'national awakening' period (1900-50) was the scene of great intellectual innovation, where foreign and indigenous concepts were fused, adapted and reworked. Tan Malaka's writings provide a particularly vivid example of this, combining as they do the concepts and language of Marxism, Islamic morality, and Minangkabau custom, sometimes in tension, in other places flowing together without apparent strain. Tan Malaka was not unique in this respect, as the thesis shows, which suggests that late- colonial Indonesia provides promising terrain for the 'global turn' in intellectual history, that seeks to understand the circulation, interaction and transformation of ideas across national and cultural boundaries, especially in the non-Western world.
Supervisor: Harper, Tim Sponsor: Trinity College Cambridge
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Indonesia ; Political Thought ; History ; Tan Malaka ; Global intellectual history ; Marxism ; Islam