By offering perspectives from Indonesian female workers, this book discusses the contemporary progress of working-class feminism from the Global South. It presents a critical reading of the socio-political conditions that allow female workers to narrate their lives and work as precariat labor toiling under the forces of globalization. Its analysis centers on their writings which appear in the form of legal documents, personal accounts, essays, and short stories. Thus, the book shows how these women change their situation by challenging the political order and demanding gender justice with their fearless speech.
Jafar Suryomenggolo is associate member of the Centre Asie du Sud-Est (CASE), Paris, France, and visiting research fellow at the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies, Jeonbuk National University (JISEAS), South Korea.
List of Tables
Part 1. Defying Authoritarian Rule
Chapter 1. Reinventing Defense Speech
Chapter 2. Soliloquy of Disobedience
Part 2. Negotiating Neoliberalism
Chapter 3. Zines of Contentions
Chapter 4. Epistolary Protest
Part 3. Liberating Self
Chapter 5. Journals for Rights
Chapter 6. Fictions of Freedom
About the Author
Fearless Speech is a landmark study that explores the manifold ways and means by which Indonesian women workers reflect on, and advocate to improve, their living and working conditions. Through speeches, legal texts, essays, and fiction, these women wield their pens and engage creatively and critically with issues of work, family, activism, emotion, and writing. In so doing, they not only bear testament to, but are themselves the makers and promoters of, a vibrant, resilient working-class culture.
This is a unique and invaluable book. Historians, sociologists and anthropologists of labor or Indonesia will gain access to a treasure trove of new material based on the personal accounts of Indonesian female workers from the 1980s to the present day. These provide new avenues through which to understand recent social and economic change in Indonesia, based on the experiences of a segment of Indonesian society that is all too often overlooked by analysts more typically focused on middle class or elite males.
In a meticulously detailed study, Suryomenggolo presents an intimate portrayal of working-class women from Indonesia. Through personal narration, the book details the experiences emerging from individual stories of women workers and connects them in an attempt to help the reader understand the struggles of female labourers beyond the much-publicised “economic miracle” of Indonesia’s industrial policy, first implemented in the late 1970s. By presenting individual experiences, Suryomenggolo sheds light on how working-class women reflect on the exploitation of labour as well as gender discrimination over the course of a period during which capitalism has been transforming into its most aggressive form. The result is a book that narrates the stories of female menial labourers who successfully air their grievances despite social, political and cultural limitations. A notable strength of the book is that it shows how individual events and non-academic narratives, written by underprivileged working-class women without a university education, can be studied and considered academically. The book was published at the right moment and remains highly relevant, given how current and yet underappreciated the issue is.