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Killias, O. The Politics of Bondage in the Recruitment, Training and Placement of Indonesian Migrant Domestic Workers. Sociologus, 59(2), 145-172. https://doi.org/10.3790/soc.59.2.145
Killias, Olivia "The Politics of Bondage in the Recruitment, Training and Placement of Indonesian Migrant Domestic Workers" Sociologus 59.2, , 145-172. https://doi.org/10.3790/soc.59.2.145
Killias, Olivia: The Politics of Bondage in the Recruitment, Training and Placement of Indonesian Migrant Domestic Workers, in: Sociologus, vol. 59, iss. 2, 145-172, [online] https://doi.org/10.3790/soc.59.2.145

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The Politics of Bondage in the Recruitment, Training and Placement of Indonesian Migrant Domestic Workers

Killias, Olivia

Sociologus, Vol. 59 (2009), Iss. 2 : pp. 145–172

14 Citations (CrossRef)

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1Olivia Killias, Institut für Sozialanthropologie, Universität Bern, Länggassstrasse 49a, 3000 Bern 9, Schweiz.

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Abstract

Indonesia is one of the major labour sending countries in contemporary Asia. While Indonesians, and especially the Javanese, have a long tradition of mobility, what has been called the “institutionalisation” of labour exporting started in the 1870's, under Dutch colonial rule. At that time, migrant workers originating from Java were mostly male “coolies” sent to work as indentured labourers on mines and plantations on the Indonesian Outer Islands. Nowadays, women represent the overwhelming majority of migrant workers departing from Indonesia, and most of them are sent abroad as domestic workers. Interestingly, even though indentured labour has officially been abolished in Indonesia in 1932, the contemporary system of contract labour migration is in many ways very similar to nineteenth and twentieth century indentured labour. By looking in particular at the practices of state and non-state actors involved in the “export” of Indonesian maids to Malaysia, this paper seeks to analyse the processes that migrant domestic workers go through in Indonesia before being able to migrate to Malaysia and how these processes affect their situation both before and after their departure. In fact, the moment of “pre-departure” lasts for months and involves many different actors, such as local brokers, recruitment agents or government officials – the overwhelming majority of whom are male. Developed in the context of a comparative research on bonded labour in Southeast Asia and grounded in ethnographic research carried out both in Indonesia and Malaysia, this paper focuses on one particular stage of international labour migration. It aims at understanding whether and how the particular “moment” of pre-departure eventually gives rise to contemporary forms of bondage in transnational domestic service.

Zusammenfassung

Die Rektrutierung als erster Schritt in die Abhängigkeit – Eine ethnographische Studie transnationaler Migration indonesischer Hausangestellter

Dieser Artikel beleuchtet die heutige Migration indonesischer Frauen im Kontext historischer Formen der Arbeitsmigration in Südostasien und stellt dabei den Prozess der Arbeitsmigration in den Mittelpunkt. In bisherigen Studien über Hausangestellte wurden vor allem die Beziehungen zwischen Arbeitgeberin und Arbeitnehmerin analysiert. Andere wichtige Akteure wie Mittelsmänner, Agenturen oder Regierungsbeamte, die insbesondere bei der Migrationsentscheidung eine wichtige Rolle spielen, wurden meist ausgeblendet. In diesem Artikel wird ein spezifisches Stadium der Arbeitsmigration indonesischer Migrantinnen analysiert, nämlich das Stadium vor der eigentlichen Abreise ins Ausland: Rekrutierung und Ausbildung der Migrantinnen stehen im Mittelpunkt. Verknüpfungen zwischen diesem Stadium und den späteren Arbeitsbedingungen – auch Aspekte, die an historische Formen der Arbeitsmigration erinnern – werden erläutert.

Unter niederländischer Kolonialherrschaft waren es vor allem Männer, die auf andere indonesische Inseln geschickt wurden, um dort in Minen und auf Plantagen zu arbeiten. Heutzutage sind es meist Frauen, die Indonesien verlassen, und die Mehrheit von ihnen sind als Hausangestellte in Hongkong und Ländern wie Saudi-Arabien, Malaysia oder Kuwait tätig. Die Arbeitsmigration dieser Frauen scheint dem System der Kontraktarbeit (indentured labour) des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts in vielfältiger Hinsicht ähnlich, nicht zuletzt deshalb, weil auch im System der heutigen Arbeitsmigration eine Schuld entsteht, welche die weiblichen Hausangestellten während mehrerer Monate durch ihre Arbeit abzahlen müssen.