A Failure of the Nation-Building Project?

  • Riwanto Tirtosudarmo


This is an empirical analysis on the idea of a nation-building project that is assumed to be deliberated on the relatively peaceful and conflict-free development processes. The unraveling political and communal conflicts following the demise of Suharto from power in 1998 raised a question ‘Is Indonesia’s nation building project a failure?’. The seemingly unresolved conflict in Aceh and Papua, in the aftermath of East Timor independence, is a clear sign that Indonesia’s nation-building project is in a serious trouble. While political problems in Aceh and Papua strongly related with the capacity of the Indonesian state to maintain its existing international boundaries, the rampant communal conflicts in Sambas, Sampit, Poso and Ambon reflect the failure in nurturing social cohesion between different cultural identity groups despite Indonesia’s national motto ‘unity in diversity’. The chapter argues that the failure of nation-building project, if the analysis is then confirmed empirically, is primarily due to the overly centralized nation-state that in turn precluded and repressed the diversity and differences of its people.


Nation State Political conflict Communal conflict Cultural diversity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Riwanto Tirtosudarmo
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Center for Society and CultureIndonesian Institute of SciencesJakartaIndonesia

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