Women and Work in Indonesia: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Women and Work in Indonesia

1st Edition

Edited by Michele Ford, Lyn Parker


220 pages

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This book examines the meaning of work for women in contemporary Indonesia. It takes a broad definition of work in order to interrogate assumptions about work and economic activity, focusing on what women themselves see as their work, which includes not only paid employment, home life and child care, but also activities surrounding ritual, healing and religious life. It analyses the key issues, including the contrasts between ‘new’ and ‘old’ forms of work, the relationship between experiences of migration and work, and the ways in which religion – especially Islam - shapes perceptions and practice of work. It discusses women’s work in a range of different settings, both rural and urban, and in different locations, covering Sumatra, Bali, Lombok, Java, Sulawesi and Kalimantan. A wide range of types of employment are considered: agricultural labour, industrial work and new forms of work in the tertiary sector such as media and tourism, demonstrating how capitalism, globalization and local culture together produce gendered patterns of work with particular statuses and identities. It address the question of the meaning and valuing of women’s ‘traditional’ work, be it agricultural labour, domestic work or other kinds of reproductive labour, challenging assumptions of women as ‘only’ mothers and housewives, and demonstrating how women can negotiate new definitions of ‘housewife’ by mobilizing kinship and village relations to transcend conventional categories such as wage labour and the domestic sphere. Overall, this book is an important study of the meaning of work for women in Indonesia.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Thinking About Indonesian Women and Work Michele Ford and Lyn Parker 1. Not your Average Housewife: Minangkabau Women Rice Farmers in West Sumatra Evelyn Blackwood 2. Keeping Rice in the Pot: Women and Work in a Transmigration Settlement Gaynor Dawson 3. Dukun and Bidan: The Work of Traditional and Government Midwives in Southeast Sulawesi Simone Alesich 4. Poverty, Opportunity and Purity in Paradise: Women Working in Lombok’s Tourist Hotels Linda Rae Bennett 5. Industrial Workers in Transition: Women’s Experiences of Factory Work in Tangerang Nicholaas Warouw 6. Bodies in Contest: Gender Difference and Equity in a Coal Mine Kuntala Lahiri-Dutt and Kathryn Robinson 7. Meanings of Work for Female Media and Communication Workers Pam Nilan and Prahastiwi Utari 8. Makkunrai Passimokolo’: Bugis Migrant Women Workers in Malaysia Nurul Ilmi Idrus 9. Making the Best of What You’ve Got: Sex Work and Class Mobility in the Riau Islands Michele Ford and Lenore Lyons 10. Straddling Worlds: Indonesian Migrant Domestic Workers in Singapore Rosslyn von der Borch

About the Editors

Michele Ford chairs the Department of Indonesian Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia, where she teaches Indonesian language and Asian Studies. Her research focuses on the Indonesian labour movement, labour migration in Southeast Asia, and women and work.

Lyn Parker is Associate Professor in Asian Studies at the University of Western Australia. She teaches Asian Studies and Anthropology, Indonesian and Women’s Studies. Her main research interests are gender relations in Indonesia and Asia, the anthropology of women and the nation-state, education and health.

About the Series

ASAA Women in Asia Series

The primary aim of this important series is to publish original, high quality work on all aspects of women in Asia. Submissions are welcomed from prospective authors, both new and established scholars, working in any appropriate discipline, and should in the first instance be sent to the series editor. Email: louise.edwards@unsw.edu.au


Editorial Board:

Hyaeweol Choi (University of Iowa)

Melissa Crouch (University of New South Wales) 

Michele Ford (The University of Sydney)

Trude Jacobsen (Northern Illinois University)

Tanya Jakimow (University of New South Wales)

Lenore Lyons (Independent scholar)

Vera Mackie (University of Wollongong)

Anne McLaren (The University of Melbourne)

Mina Roces (University of New South Wales)

Dina Siddiqi (New York University)

Andrea Whittaker (The University of Queensland)

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / International / Economics
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Women's Studies