Natalie Sambhi

PhD Scholar


Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) (Hons) (UWA), Master of Arts (International Relations) (ANU) and Master of Diplomacy (ANU)

Contact details
M M +61 (0) 413 307 72
Room: 3.19
Building: Hedley Bull Building
Natalie Sambhi

Natalie is a PhD Scholar at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University, focussing on Indonesian military history. Since 2016, she has been a Research Fellow at the Perth USAsia Centre where she has published on Indonesian foreign and defence policy as well as Southeast Asian security. She has previously worked at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) from 2012 to 2016 as an Analyst and Managing Editor of ASPI’s blog, The Strategist, at the Department of Defence and at the University of Canberra. She holds a Bachelor of Arts (Asian Studies) (Hons) from the University of Western Australia and a Master of Arts (International Relations) and Master of Diplomacy, both from The Australian National University.

Natalie’s PhD thesis seeks to understand the legacies of the conflict and occupation of East Timor for the Indonesian military (TNI) from 1975 to 1999. Current literature and scholarship on the conflict yields limited insights into the way in which this impacted the military as an institution. This study seeks to answer the question, how has the Indonesian military understood and interpreted its experience in East Timor and its outcome? This project seeks to make an empirical contribution to Indonesian history scholarship by more closely examining the military’s interpretation and representations of East Timor. Conceptually, it will extend culturalist scholarship in strategic studies by investigating whether events such as withdrawal or defeat impact military culture, using Indonesia’s experiences in East Timor as a case study. Understanding dominant themes in Indonesia’s military culture could provide insights into the military’s preferences, civil-military relations and its worldview, particularly relations with Australia.

Chair: Prof John Blaxland Supervisors: Dr Greg Raymond, Prof Joan Beaumont

Thesis topic

Military culture and the legacies of East Timor for the Indonesian military.


Trilateral cooperation between Australia, India and Indonesia is needed to manage enduring maritime challenges in the Indian Ocean.

Time for an Indo-Australis?

The Indo-Pacific is slowly replacing the Asia-Pacific as the dominant security and economic concept in our region. Natalie Sambhi writes that the complex challenges of this vast region should be approached bit by bit, and Australia, India and Indonesia could start by strengthening trilateral cooperation in the region’s southwest sector, the “Indo-Australis”.

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