Organising under the Revolution: Unions and the State in Java, 1945-48

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By Jafar Suryomenggolo

The years 1945-48 marked the peak of the Indonesian revolution, but they were also formative years for the state-labour relationship in modern Indonesia. Drawing on a wide range of historical sources, Jafar Suryomenggolo reconstructs labour's initial drive to form and orient unions during this critical period. The historical narrative captures early unions' nationalist spirit and efforts to defend members' socio-economic interests, and shows the steps taken by the labour movement to maintain its independence and build institutional capacity within the new Indonesian state.

Organising under the Revolution challenges the prevailing assumptions that see labour movements as political arms of the post-colonial state. The author's conclusions provide a comparative lens for the study of labour movements in Southeast Asia, and developing countries in general.


"Organising under the Revolution shows the importance of detailed studies of the post-independence labour movement. It is a welcome addition to the limited literature on the history of labor unions in Indonesia in the early years of independence." - John Ingleson

"The book offers important theoretical insights into labor historiography and the nature of post-colonial state systems. With its theory firmly grounded in historically specific examples, the book should be of interest to not just scholars of Indonesia and Southeast Asia, but to those who seek to frame labor history in a global comparative perspective." - Michael G. Vann.


Jafar SURYOMENGGOLO is Research Fellow at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), Kyoto University.


Kyoto CSEAS Series on Asian Studies 9
Publication Year: 2013
232 pages, 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-696-2, Paperback

NUS Press and Kyoto University Press