Ibrahim Isa and Left Third-Worldist Indonesia

November 10, 2023

This presentation is sponsored by the David Lam Centre, International Studies, and Global Asia.

Dr. Jamkajornkeiat examines political discourses of Ibrahim Isa, an Indonesian representative of the Afro-Asian Peoples’ Solidarity in Cairo, to constellate a peripheral Marxist theory of anticolonialism from Left Third-Worldist Indonesia. From a Left Third-Worldist perspective, Indonesia occupied one of the central nodes in the global resistance against the intertwined imperialist and capitalist system. This period of what he calls the postcolonial interregnum, after the independence and before the communist massacre, witnessed Indonesia forging internationalist solidarity with other decolonizing nations in wars instigated by the transimperial alliance.

In the specific case of Isa, he linked Indonesia’s national campaign to liberate West Papua from the Dutch with broader Arab-Asian anticolonial struggles for independence. Isa’s situational analysis of Indonesia as a chokepoint in an imperialist networked infrastructure and capitalist supply chain presupposed a Left Third-Worldist understanding of the capitalist-imperialist nexus. Isa’s call for multiracial workers from four continents to boycott Dutch ammunition vehicles at sea and airports likewise enacted an anti-imperialist modality of circulation struggles. Dr. Jamkajornkeiat argues that Left Third-Worldism and circulation struggles, both premised on a Marxist lineage of using a ‘link’ figure in conjunctural analysis, dialectically constituted a primary contradiction during the postcolonial interregnum.


Thiti Jamkajornkeiat is Assistant Professor of Global Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Victoria, where he teaches courses on activism, human rights, public humanities, and anticolonialism in 20th and 21st century Asia. He is affiliated with the Cultural, Social & Political Program and Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives. He serves as a board member of the Inter-Asian Cultural Studies Society and is an editorial member of positions: asia critique collective. His essays and interviews appeared inKyoto Review of Southeast Asia,Spectre,Haymarket Books, and upcoming inVergeandpositions:politics. He works at the intersection of Marxism, post-/anti-/decolonial theories, and Southeast Asia, specifically Indonesia and Thailand. His first book project is an intellectual history and peripheral Marxist theorization of Indonesian left internationalism in the Long Sixties, with an emphasis on the Left Third-Worldist and minor-communist modalities of internationalism.