Pillars of the Nation and Stalwarts of Development: Students and Youth Imagine an Independent Indonesia (1945-1949)

Jonathan Peter

PhD Candidate at the University of Melbourne

While the important role of the pemuda during the Indonesian National Revolution is unquestionable, their contribution to the struggle for independence was underlined by an imagined future Indonesia. What did they think awaited them in a truly independent Indonesia, following the war of independence? What influenced these visions? This paper examines the mindset of Indonesian youth (pemuda) during the revolution and the different futures they imagined for Indonesia. I aim to do this through a comparative analysis of pemuda newspapers and magazines published by the different armed laskar groups throughout the revolution. These publications carried many articles discussing pemuda visions of the future. They commented on different issues, such as their role in post-independence national development, the role of female students and the political and economic systems best suited for an independent Indonesia. I aim to trace the possible sources and potential effects that these differing visions had through looking at the political tendencies and collective identities of these laskar groups, and how these were influenced by their interactions with each other, international youth organizations and with the war of independence itself. Through this, I hope to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of pemuda during the revolution.


Jonathan Peter is a History PhD candidate in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne. He is currently in the second year of his PhD and is writing his dissertation, With Pen and Bayonet: The Birth of the Tentara Pelajar and Their Role in Shaping Post-Independence Indonesia.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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