Uneasy comrades: Tuk Subianto, Eliot V. Elliott and the Cold War

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Indonesia and the Malay World, 2012, 40 (117), pp. 209 - 230
Issue Date:
2012-07-01
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This article focuses on the friendship between two maritime workers and unionists - Tuk Subianto from Indonesia and Eliot V. Elliott from Australia - initially forged during the struggles in Australia against Dutch and British colonialism in Indonesia in 1945. Their communication into the 1960s was largely possible through their shared involvement with international networks of left-affiliated unions like the World Federation of Trade Unions. Despite the WFTU executive's sustained focus on Europe, the organisation had members from diverse racial and national groups which enabled communication between people at the periphery, like the Australians, Indonesians and Indians. Their relationship foundered, however, on Elliott's failure to recognise the importance to Tuk Subianto and his maritime union of the network of decolonising nations, which were often linked through shared 'non-alignment' like India and Indonesia, or even opposition to the European focus of formal left-wing structures like the WFTU. There were thus two different transnational networks operating as the vehicle for Tuk Subianto to be 'overseas', and his old Australian comrade was for various reasons only participating in one of them, which became increasingly inadequate to sustain their alliance. © 2012 Copyright Editors, Indonesia and the Malay World.
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