Background & Objective

Recent debates within the sphere of International Relations have recognized the urgent need for diversifying theoretical perspectives, moving beyond traditional Western paradigms to embrace views from the ‘non-Western’ world. This conference is founded on the acknowledgment that non-Western IR theories bear inherent and unique values that can critically enrich the global discourse on international relations. However, instead of the prevalent top-down approach that delineates non-Western IR theories based on regional or national parameters, we propose a shift towards a bottom-up exploration that foregrounds the cultural, historical, and intellectual contours of specific IR communities. In this context, the focus of our conference is the Indonesian IR community.

Our exploration pivots on the fundamental question: How can local experiences and the societal transformations driven by modernity enrich our understanding of international relations? We propose that to grasp a more comprehensive vision of non-Western IR, we need to delve into the unique cultural and historical experiences of Indonesia. This conference, therefore, will focus on three critical aspects of IR theory and practice:

  1. Historical and Cultural Insights: This section will investigate how elements of Indonesian history and culture, such as Javanese leadership concepts, Minang power dynamics, Malay views on ‘rumpunism’, and the maritime history of the Makassar people, shape Indonesian perspectives on IR.
  1. Unique Contributions to IR Practice: We will unpack historical and contemporary Indonesian concepts that encapsulate its unique perspectives on international relations. Here, we delve into notions such as ‘free and active’ foreign policy, global solidarity, regional leadership, dynamic equilibrium, and the global maritime fulcrum, among others.
  1. The Prospect of an Indonesian School of Thought: This part will survey the current state of Indonesian research and teaching in IR, exploring the potential for developing a distinct Indonesian School of Thought in IR.

Our aim is to navigate the intricate landscape of the Indonesian IR community, highlighting its distinctive theoretical and practical approaches to International Relations, its potential contributions to the global IR lexicon, and the prospect of cultivating an indigenous Indonesian IR school of thought. This conference, thus, provides an avenue for stimulating dialogue on the role of Indonesian historical, cultural, and social transformations in shaping its unique perspectives on IR.


Aim and Scope

The conference seeks to:

Map out the Indonesian IR Discourse: The conference aims to critically assess the current state of debate within the Indonesian IR community. By bringing together leading Indonesian IR scholars and practitioners, it intends to delineate the major themes, prevailing narratives, and emerging trends within this discourse. The goal is to provide a comprehensive understanding of the unique concerns, aspirations, and perspectives that shape Indonesia’s engagement with international relations theory and practice.

Evaluate Indonesian Contributions to Global IR: The conference seeks to explore and evaluate the global implications of Indonesia’s unique contributions to IR concepts, such as the Global Maritime Fulcrum and Dynamic Equilibrium. This involves a critical examination of these concepts, their theoretical underpinnings, their practical applications, and their potential to inform and enhance the global IR discourse.

Chart the Evolution of IR in Indonesia: The conference endeavors to trace the evolution and development of specific subsets of IR within the Indonesian context. This includes investigating the historical, cultural, political, and socioeconomic factors that have influenced the development of these fields. It will also examine how these subsets are currently situated within the broader global IR landscape, and how they might evolve in the future.

Scope of the Conference:

  • Indonesian IR Debate: The conference will provide an in-depth exploration of the current state of debate in Indonesian international relations. This includes discussions on the dominant theoretical frameworks, prevailing themes, and emerging trends, as well as the challenges and opportunities faced by Indonesian IR scholars and practitioners.
  • Indonesian Contributions to IR: The conference will delve into unique Indonesian contributions to IR theory and practice, focusing on indigenous concepts such as the Global Maritime Fulcrum and Dynamic Equilibrium. It will explore how these concepts have been developed, how they are applied in practice, and how they might be incorporated into the wider global IR discourse.
  • Evolution of IR Subsets in Indonesia: The conference will offer a comprehensive examination of the evolution of specific subsets of IR in Indonesia, including their historical trajectories, current states, and future prospects. This will include areas such as foreign policy, international political economy, security studies, and regionalism. The discussion will also include an exploration of how these subsets have been influenced by Indonesia’s unique historical, cultural, political, and socioeconomic contexts.


“Toward Global IR Debates in Indonesia: Theoretical Conception and Thoughts” 

    1. State of debate in Indonesia’s International Relations (IR)
    2. Teaching IR in Indonesia.
    3. From Practice to theory: Unpacking Modern Indonesian IR Conceptions
    4. History and Theory: How Indonesian history shape our understanding on the International
    5. How Indonesian IR epistemic communities can contribute to theoretical construction
    6. Border, coloniality, and redefinition of the state in IR
    7. Theorising Sea Power and maritime governance
    8. Theorising transnationalism and state-society relations through Indonesian perspective

What theoretical contribution that Indonesian IR epistemic community could do to enhance debate in (a) Foreign Policy, (b) International Political Economy, (c) security studies, and (d) regionalism.


  1. State of Debate in Indonesia’s International Relations (IR):

The discourse on Indonesia’s IR landscape is robust and dynamic, influenced by both traditional geopolitics and evolving global trends. The debates range from security issues and territorial sovereignty to the impacts of climate change and the role of digital diplomacy. The intersection of these myriad factors and their implications for regional and international relations presents rich ground for theoretical exploration.

Question: How are Indonesia’s IR debates shaped by both traditional geopolitics and contemporary global issues, and how can the Indonesian epistemic community further enhance these discussions?


  1. Teaching IR in Indonesia:

The IR curriculum across universities in Indonesia is diverse, reflecting a spectrum of pedagogical approaches. Some institutions lean heavily on Western-oriented theoretical frameworks, while others employ a more contextual approach grounded in the local geopolitical landscape. This variability in teaching style and curriculum offers insight into the dominance of Western paradigms in IR teaching and the emergence of alternative approaches.

Question: How does the IR curriculum in Indonesian universities reflect a balance between Western theories and indigenous perspectives, and what strategies can be used to further incorporate Indonesian case studies and experiences?


  1. From Practice to Theory: Unpacking Modern Indonesian IR Conceptions:

Modern Indonesian International Relations (IR) concepts, such as the Global Maritime Fulcrum (GMF) and Dynamic Equilibrium, offer unique, practice-oriented perspectives that can enrich and inform theoretical debates in the field. These conceptions, based on Indonesia’s distinctive geopolitical positioning and nuanced approach to international diplomacy, have the potential to stimulate a broader and more inclusive IR theorization.

President Joko Widodo’s vision of Indonesia as the GMF presents a notable example of these unique theoretical contributions. Widodo came into office in 2014 with an ambitious agenda to transform Indonesia into a central force between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The GMF strategy, incorporating aspects of maritime culture, resources, infrastructure, diplomacy, and defense, was widely anticipated as Indonesia’s first actionable grand strategy in decades. By translating the GMF strategy into a theoretical framework, Indonesian IR can contribute to a more nuanced understanding of maritime geopolitics and power dynamics in the IR discourse.

Another compelling case comes from the concept of Dynamic Equilibrium. Proposed by Marty Natalegawa, this concept aims to balance major power states’ geopolitical influence in ASEAN, thereby reinforcing ASEAN’s Centrality amid the varying national interests within the bloc. Dynamic Equilibrium, as a doctrine, presents a uniquely Indonesian perspective on balancing power dynamics, further enriching theoretical debates in IR.

The challenge, therefore, is to translate these practical, policy-oriented conceptions into theoretical constructs that can shed light on the complexities of global power dynamics and the navigation of national interests. Key questions to consider include:

How do modern Indonesian IR concepts such as the Global Maritime Fulcrum and Dynamic Equilibrium inform and enrich theoretical debates in the field of International Relations?

How can the practice of Indonesian foreign policy, reflected in these conceptions, contribute to the development of an Indonesian School of Thought in IR and Defense Diplomacy Geo-strategy?

How can these unique, practice-oriented perspectives serve as a catalyst for more inclusive and diverse IR theorization that moves beyond traditional Western-centric paradigms?


  1. History and Theory: How Indonesian History Shapes Our Understanding of the International:

Indonesia’s diverse historical experiences, spanning from its colonial era to the period of Javanese kingdoms, provide invaluable insights for theorizing International Relations (IR). These historical narratives offer unique perspectives on global and regional dynamics, enriching our understanding of IR by going beyond the traditional Western-centric viewpoint.

Recent calls from critical IR scholars for “broadening” the theoretical horizon of IR and moving beyond its prevalent West-centrism have emphasized the importance of acknowledging and integrating non-Western societies’ histories, cultures, and philosophies. In line with this perspective, exploring Indonesian history illuminates a distinctive standpoint in the field of IR that not only informs global discourse but also challenges the dominant Western-centric theories.

In light of the ongoing debate on the merits and structure of non-Western IR theory, the Indonesian experience offers a fertile ground for exploration. Indonesia’s history, characterized by unique socio-political dynamics and interactions with global powers, reveals intricate narratives that can fundamentally reshape our understanding of international relations.

The colonial history of Indonesia, the transition to independence, and the subsequent shaping of its foreign policy all add unique layers of complexity to our understanding of international relations, offering an alternative lens through which we can examine global events. This perspective challenges and enriches the dominant narratives, paving the way for a more inclusive understanding of IR that better reflects the diversity of global experiences.

Hence, the pivotal question to consider is: How does the historical interplay between local and global events in Indonesia, particularly its experiences of colonialism and transition to independence, inform and challenge our understanding of international relations and transnational issues? Furthermore, how can this Indonesian perspective contribute to the broadening of the theoretical horizon of IR, moving us away from the current West-centrism?

  1. How Indonesian IR Epistemic Communities Can Contribute to Theoretical Construction:

Indonesian International Relations (IR) epistemic communities are poised at a unique intersection of cultural, historical, and geopolitical understanding. These communities, armed with their distinct perspectives, are on the cusp of significantly contributing to theoretical dialogues in IR, challenging established Western-centric models, and offering fresh discursive alternatives.

Their potential lies not only in providing diverse viewpoints but also in their capacity to invigorate debates on pivotal sub-fields of IR. By incorporating indigenous perspectives and experiences, they have the opportunity to enrich and expand discussions on foreign policy, international political economy, security studies, and regionalism. The following key questions guide this inquiry into the contributions of Indonesian IR epistemic communities:

        1. What is the current state of Indonesian IR scholarship, and how can emerging Indonesian scholars further influence the global IR debate?
        2. How can the Indonesian IR epistemic community, through unique theoretical contributions and perspectives, revitalize debates in the fields of foreign policy, international political economy, security studies, and regionalism?
        3. How can specific concepts such as new developmentalism and authoritarian populism be employed to enhance and broaden the scope of International Political Economy discourse, and what unique insights can the Indonesian experience bring to these debates?
        4. This unified topic emphasizes the growing importance of Indonesian IR scholarship in shaping global debates and the significance of locally-informed perspectives in the construction of more balanced and inclusive IR theories.
  1. Border, Coloniality, and Redefinition of the State in IR:

Indonesia’s experience with malleable borders challenges traditional notions of statehood in IR theory. This perspective on borders and coloniality redefines our understanding of state sovereignty and territoriality.

Question: How does the malleability of Indonesia’s borders challenge traditional conceptions of the state, and what implications does this have for broader IR theory?


  1. Theorising Sea Power and Maritime Governance:

Given its geographical position as a vast archipelago, Indonesia offers a unique perspective in theorizing sea power and maritime governance. These perspectives enhance debates on sea power and underscore the complex relationships between states, maritime territories, and governance structures.

Question: How does Indonesia’s perspective on sea power contribute to broader debates on maritime governance, and what new insights can it bring to our understanding of state-sea relationships?

  1. Theorising Transnationalism and State-Society Relations through Indonesian Perspective:

Indonesia’s experience with transnational issues offers unique insights into state-society relations. It can inform our understanding of a wide range of issues, from human rights and migrant worker policies to regional integration and diplomacy.

Question: How does the Indonesian experience of transnationalism enhance our understanding of state-society relations and contribute to debates on issues such as human rights and migrant workers?

Keynotes Speakers:

  1. Aleksius Jemadu, Professor of International Relations, Universitas Pelita Harapan (To be Confirmed)
  1. Dewi Fortuna Anwar, Professor of Research, BRIN (To be Confirmed)
  1. Rizal Sukma, Senior Fellow, CSIS Prof. Mark Beeson, Department of Politics and International Relations  (To be Confirmed)


Full Paper Submission 30 October 2023
Registration  6-9 November 2023
Conference Days 16 November 2023

Abstract Submission

Abstract submission can be submitted to