What makes one nation curious about another nation? Curious enough that the study of the other’s culture and language becomes a natural commitment or something that could be described as a national project? This question lies behind much of the writing in this book as it explores the history, education policy and changing fortunes of the Indonesian/Malay language in Australia. While formal education programs are central to this discussion, individual effort and chance encounters with the language are also examined in the context of Australia’s evolving historical ties with its near neighbours. These relationships have grown in importance since the end of the Second World War, but Australians typically continue to view the region as ‘testing’. This is exemplified by the Australian–Indonesian relationship, the primary focus of this volume. While much has been written on the political relationship, this book builds its view of the two countries’ interactions on the cultural activity of language learning. This is, perhaps, the most fundamental of cultural activities in any effort to promote mutual understanding.
Dr Paul Thomas has been a Lecturer in Indonesian Studies at Monash University for over twenty years, teaching, researching and working to promote the study of Indonesian and Malay. He has written historical biographies of Indonesians/Malays in Australia and is currently researching representations of Indonesians/Malays in global cultures.
Charles A. Coppel
Dwi Noverini Djenar
David T. Hill
Paul S. Thomas