Tracing Southern Cosmopolitanisms: the intersecting networks of Islam, Trade Unions, Gender and Communism, 1945-1965

Heather Goodall


At the end of World War 2, there were high hopes across the Indian Ocean for a new world in which the relationships between working people would mean more than the borders which separated them. This paper will explore the fate of the hopes for new worlds, in the decades after 1945, by following the uneven relationships among working class Australians, Indonesians and Indians in the aftermath of an intense political struggle in Australia from 1945 to 1949 in support of Indonesian independence. They had been brought together by intersections between the networks established through colonialism, like trade unions, communism and feminism, with those having much longer histories, like Islam. The men and women in this Australian setting expressed their vision in 1945 for a future of universal and transnational networks across the Indian Ocean which would continue the alliances they had found so fruitful. Today their experiences as well as their hopes might be called cosmopolitanism – they expected that the person-to-person friendships they were forming could be sustained and be able to negotiate the differences between them to achieve common aims. Although these hopes for new futures of universal alliances and collaborations were held passionately in the 1940s, all seem to have died by 1970, diverted by newly independent national trajectories and defeated by the Cold War. Yet many of the relationships persisted far longer than might be expected and their unravelling was not inevitable. This paper will trace the course of a few of the relationships which began in the heat of the campaigns in Australia, 1943 to 1945, in order to identify the continuing common ground as well as the rising tensions which challenged them.

Full Text:



Allard, T. 'Indonesia unwilling to tackle legacy of massacres', 13 June 2009, Sydney Morning Herald.

Anderson, B. 1976 and 2006, 1953: Java in a Time of Revolution: Occupation and Resistance, 19441946, Equinox, Djakarta.

Anderson, B. 1979, 'A Time of Darkness and a Time of Light: transposition in early Indonesian nationalist thought' in Reid, A. and Marr, D. (eds) Perceptions of the Past in Southeast Asia, ASAA Southeast Asia Publications Series, Heinemann Educational books, Singapore, pp.219- 248.

Beasley, M. 1996, Wharfies: A history of the Waterside Workers' Federation of Australia, Halstead Press, Sydney.

Bondan, M. 1992, Spanning a Revolution: Mohamad Bondan and the Indonesian Nationalist Movement, Pustaka Sinar Harapan, Jakarta.

Bose, S. 2010, 'Different universalisms, colorful cosmopolitanisms: the global imagination of the colonised', in Bose, S. and Manjapra, K. (eds) Cosmopolitan Thought Zones: South Asia and the Global Circulation of Ideas, Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, UK, pp. 97-111.

Sugata Bose and Kris Manjapra (eds) Cosmopolitan Thought Zones: South Asia and the Global Circulation of Ideas, Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, UK.

Breckenridge, C., Pollock, S., Baba, H. and Chakrabarty, D. (eds) 2002, Cosmopolitanism, Duke University Press, Durham.

Broeze, F. 1981, 'The muscles of empire - indian seamen and the raj 1919 1939', Indian Economic and Social History Review, vol.1, pp. 43-67.

Broeze, F. 1998, Island Nation: A History of Australians and the Sea, Allen and Unwin, Sydney.

Burchett, W. 1955, 'Bandoeng was a great victory for world peace', The Guardian, 5 May.

Burton, J.W. '1933, Report on the Bandung Conference', (8 pages) p4, National Archives Australia (NAA) A 6122; 1933, NAA.

Burton, C. 1955, 'Report on Bandung', Meanjin, Sept 1955, pp 395-399.

Bendera Buruh, October 1953, translated by Suzan Piper, 2009.

Chattopadhyay, S. 2011, An Early Communist: Muzaffar Ahmad in Calcutta 1913 1929, Tulika Books, New Delhi.

Cottle, D. 2003, 'Forgotten foreign militants: the Chinese Seamen's Union in Australia, 1942-1946', in Alexander, H and Griffiths, P. (eds) Rough Reds: Australian Stories of Rank and File Organising, Canberra, Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, pp. 135-151;

Cottle, D. and Keys, A. 2006, 'From Colonial Film Commissioner to Political Pariah: Joris Ivens and the Making of Indonesia Calling', Accessed 28 November 2011.

Curthoys, B. and McDonald, A.1966, More than a Hat and Glove Brigade, Union of Australian Women, Sydney

Delanty, G. 2009, The Cosmopolitan Imagination: The Renewal of Critical Social Theory, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Dunn, D. 2004, From Power Politics to Conflict Resolution: The work of John W. Burton, Palgrave MacMillan, Houndmills, UK.

Elliott, J. 1997, 'Bersatoe Kita Berdiri Bertjerai Kita Djatoeh' [United we stand Divided we fall'] Workers and Unions in Indonesia: Jakarta, 1945-65, unpublished PhD, University of New South Wales.

Ewald, Janet 2000, 'Crossers of the sea: slaves, freedmen, and other migrants in the northwestern Indian Ocean, c. 1750 1914', American Historical Review, vol.105, pp.1-42.

Fadilla, A. and Soemadi, A., Indonesian Political Exiles Association, Mackay, Qld, 4 Dec 1945, ISUiA Archive, E177/5. Noel Butlin Archive of Business and Labour, Menzies Library, ANU.

Falkiner, S. 2008, Joan in India, Australian Scholarly Press, Kew, Vic.

Fealy, G. and Katharine McGregor, 2010, 'Nahdlatul Ulama and the killings of 1965-66: Religion, politics and remembrance', Indonesia, vol. 89, April, pp. 37-60.

Federspiel, H.M. 2006, Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals of the 20th Century, ISEAS Publications, Singapore, pp.23-25.

Finane, A. and Derek McDougal (eds), 2010, Bandung 1955: little histories, Monash University Press, Melbourne.

Fitzpatrick, B. and Rohan Cahill, 1981, The Seamen's Union of Australia: 1872-197; A History, The Seamen's Union of Australia, Sydney.

Frost, M.R. forthcoming: Dreams of Other Empires: The cosmopolitan moment in the Indian Ocean world, 1870-1920.

Frost, M.R. 2004, 'Asia's maritime networks and the colonial public sphere, 1840-1920', New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies vol. 6, no.2, pp. 63-94.

Frost, M.R. 2010, 'In search of cosmopolitan discourse: a historical journey across the Indian Ocean from Singapore to South Africa, 1870 1920' in Gupta, P., Hofmeyr, I. and Pearson, M. (eds) Eyes Across the Water: Navigating the Indian Ocean, UniSA Press, Pretoria, pp. 75-96.

Germain, E. 2007, 'Southern hemisphere diasporic communities in the building of an international Muslim public opinion at the turn of the twentieth century', Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 126-138.

Goodall, H. 2008, 'Port Politics, Race and Change: Indian Seamen, Australian Unions and Indonesian Independence, 1945 -1947', Labour History, vol. 94, pp. 43-68.

Goodall, H. 2010, 'Shared hopes, new worlds: Indian seamen, Australian unionists & Indonesian independence 1945 1949' in Moorthy, S. and Jamal, A. (eds) Indian Ocean Studies: Cultural, Social, and Political Perspectives, Routledge, London, pp 158-196.

Hardjono, J. and Warner, C. 1995, In Love with a Nation: Molly Bondan and Indonesia, Charles Warner, Picton, Australia.

Healy, C. 2007, 'Recollections of the 'Black Armada' in Brisbane', Vintage Reds: More stories of rank and file organizing, Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Accessed on 28 November 2011.

Hindley, D. 1964, The Communist Party of Indonesia 1951-1963, UCLA Press, Berkeley.

History of the WFTU (paper presented WFTU Congress, Delhi, 2000)

Kahin, G.1956, The Asian-African Conference, Bandung, Indonesia, April, 1955, Cornell University Press, Itaca New York.

Kumar, A. 1979, 'Javanese historiography in and of the 'Colonial Period' in Reid, A. and Marr, D. (eds) Perceptions of the Past in Southeast Asia, ASAA Southeast Asia Publications Series, Heinemann Educational books, Singapore, pp.187-206.

Lewis, H. 2003, The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) 1945-1965: an Organizational and Political Anatomy, unpublished PhD, Sociology, University of Warwick.

Lingard, J. 2008, Refugees and Rebels: Indonesian Exiles in Wartime Australia, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne.

Lockwood, R. 1982, Black Armada: Australia and the struggle for Indonesian independence 1942-49, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney.

Mackie, J. 2005, Bandung 1955: Non-Alignment and Afro-Asian Solidarity, Editions Didier Millet, Singapore.

Mundell, I. 2005, Joris Ivens, Biography, 2005, Senses of Cinema Online, Database of Great Directors, Accessed 24 Feb 2008.

Tan Malaka, 1922, Speech to Fourth Congress of Communist International,

Manjapra, K. 2010a 'Communist internationalism and transcolonial recognition' in Bose, S. and Manjapra, K. (eds) Cosmopolitan Thought Zones: South Asia and the Global Circulation of Ideas, Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, UK, pp. 159-177.

Manjapra, K. 2010b, M. N. Roy: Marxism and Colonial Cosmopolitanism, Routledge India, Delhi

Maramis, C. 2006, Echoes Book One: Australia and Indonesia, Best Legenz, Sydney.

Maramis, C: 2005, Echoes: Book Two: My Years in Indonesia, 1949-1962, Self published, Sydney.

Martnez, J. 2001, 'Coolies" to Comrades: Internationalism between Australian and Asian Seamen' in Markey, R. (ed.), Labour and Community: Historical Essays, University of Wollongong Press, Wollongong, pp. 295-312."

Martnez, J. 2010, 'Timorese indentured labour in Australia', Paper presented at Indonesians Overseas conference University of Wollongong, December 2010.

McGregor, K. 2009, 'A Reassessment of the significance of the 1948 Madiun Uprising to the cold war in Indonesia', Kajian Malaysia, Jld. vol. 27, no. 1 & 2, 2009

McGregor, K. 2010, 'Gerwani, the WIDF and Anti-Imperialism: the dynamics of a transnational cold war alliance' Paper presented at the Indonesians Overseas conference, University of Wollongong, December 2010.

McGregor, K and Hearman, V, '2007, 'Challenges of political rehabilitation in post-new order Indonesia the case of Gerwani (the Indonesian Women's Movement) South East Asia Research, vol.15, no.3, pp. 355-384."

McVey, R. 1965, The Rise of Indonesian Communism, Cornell University Press, Ithaca.

Our Women: National Magazine of the UAW, Number 17, October-December 1960, pp 2-3.

Raliby O. 1953, Documenta Historica, Bulan-Bintang, Jakarta.

Reetz, D. 2006, Islam in the Public Sphere: Religious Groups in India, 1900-1947. Oxford University Press, New Delhi.

Reid, A. 1979, 'A Nationalist Quest for an Indonesian Past' in Reid, A. and Marr, D. (eds) Perceptions of the Past in Southeast Asia, ASAA Southeast Asia Publications Series, Heinemann Educational books, Singapore, pp 281-298.

Ricklefs, M.C. 2001, A History of Modern Indonesia since c. 1200, Third Edition, Palgrave, Basingstoke.

Rumford, Chris 2008, Cosmopolitan Spaces: Europe, Globalisation, Theory, Routledge, New York.

The Seamen's Journal 1945 -1965, Noel Butlin Archive of Business and Labour, Menzies Library, Australian National University.

Shiraishi, T. 1990, An Age in Motion: Popular Radicalism in Java, 1912-1926 (Asia East by South) Cornell University Press, Ithaca.

Stivens, M. 2008, 'Gender, Rights and Cosmopolitanisms', in Werbner, P. (ed.) Anthropology and the New Cosmopolitanism, Berg, Oxford, pp. 87-110.

Tan, S. & Acharya, A. (eds) 2008, Bandung Revisited: The Legacy of the 1955 Asian-African Conference for International Order, NUS Press, Singapore.

Tribune, Tues 23 October, 1945, p 1, 'Indians Prevent Dutch Getaway'

Tribune, Friday 26 October, 1945, p 3, 'Indians Defy Dutch, Enter Lido.',

Tribune, Tues 30 October, 1945, 'Indians Establish Complete Dutch Ship Boycott'.

Tribune, 2 November, 1945

Tribune, 27 November, 1945, p7

Tribune, 23 November, 1945, p8

Trotter, H. 2011, Sugar Girls and Seamen: A Journey into the World of Dockside Prostitution in South Africa, Ohio Press, Athens.

Valentine, G. 2008, 'Living with difference: Reflections on geographies of encounter', Progress in Human Geography vol. 32, no. 3, pp.323-337.

Vickers, A. 2005, A History of Modern Indonesia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Walker, David, 2005: 'Nervous outsiders', Australian Historical Studies, 36: 125, 40 59;

White, L. 1990, The Comforts of Home: Prostitution in Colonial Nairobi, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Wieringa, S. 1993, 'Two Indonesian women's organizations: Gerwani and the PKK', Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, vol.17, no.2, pp 17-30.

Wieringa, S. 2002, Sexual Politics in Indonesia, Palgrave McMillan, New York.

Win, Kyaw Zaw 2011, 'The 1953 Asian Socialist Conference in Rangoon: precursor to the Bandung conference', in Finane, A. and McDougal, D. (eds), Bandung 1955: little histories, Monash University Press, Melbourne, pp 43-56.

Wright, R. 1956, The Color Curtain: A Report on the Bandung Conference, World Publishing Company, Cleveland.

Zurbuchen, M. (ed.) 2005, Beginning to Remember: The Past in the Indonesian Present, Singapore University Press and Washington University Press, Seattle.



Share this article: