Macapagal and Sukarno embrace, August 1963

Modern Asian Studies (2023), forthcoming.

A Region in Dispute

Racialized anti-Communism and Manila's role in the origins of Konfrontasi, 1961-63

Prior scholarship has treated the Philippines as an outside party to the conflict over the formation of Malaysia known as Konfrontasi, which has been dealt with as a dispute between Malaysia and Indonesia. This article demonstrates the centrality of the Macapagal administration to the origins of Konfrontasi.

Treating Manila as a core actor gives new insight into Konfrontasi, which can be best understood as a regional conflict over the racial and social shape of island Southeast Asia in the final stages of decolonization. Racialized anticommunism, expressed through the forcible redivision of the region to insure social stability, emerges as the preoccupation of all the state actors promoting and opposing the formation of Malaysia.

At the same time, an examination of developments in the Philippines and the actions of the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas (PKP) give new insight into the critical function of the Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI) in this affair.