Industriousness in an imperial economy: Delineating new research on colonial connections and household labour relations in the Netherlands and the Netherlands Indies

E.J.V. van Nederveen Meerkerk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

This article delineates new research on the entangled histories of householdlabour, particularly women’s and children’s work, in the Netherlands and its colonies on Java. It offers suggestions for future empirical studies and howwe may disentangle the workings of colonial connections on labour relations. A first analysis of the debates on Dutch and Javanese women’sand children’s work shows many ambivalences and tensions, for instance, between ideology and practice. Despite the ideal of the male breadwinner inthe Netherlands, many married women and children still worked in the firsthalf of the twentieth century. Regarding Javanese women and children too,we can discern tensions between the attempts on the one hand to “Westernize” them, and introduce the ideal of domesticity. On the other hand, inherent differences between Dutch and Indonesian women and children were stressed. This “grammar of difference” helped justify why 263 Workers of the World, Volume I, Number 3, May 2013 Dutch women and children should not perform (heavy) labour and why their Javanese counterparts could indeed perform it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-117
Number of pages16
JournalWorkers of the World : international journal on strikes and social conflicts
Volume1
Issue number3 (Special Issue on Global Labour History)
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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