3 June 2019

Comparisons, Contrasts, and Connections, 1830–1940

Women, Work and Colonialism in the Netherlands and Java

Women, Work and Colonialism in the Netherlands and Java

The book Women, Work and Colonialism in the Netherlands and Java. Comparisons, Contrasts, and Connections, 1830-1940 by Prof Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk (Economic and Social History) has recently been published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Recent postcolonial studies have stressed the importance of the mutual influences of colonialism on both colony and metropole. This book studies such colonial entanglements and their effects by focusing on developments in household labour in the Dutch Empire in the period 1830-1940.

The changing role of households’

The changing role of households’, and particularly women’s, economic activities in the Netherlands and Java, one of the most important Dutch colonies, forms an excellent case study to help understand the connections and disparities between colony and metropole.

Colonial entanglements

The author contends that colonial entanglements certainly existed, and influenced developments in women’s economic role to an extent, both in Java and the Netherlands. However, during the nineteenth century, more and more distinctions in the visions and policies towards Dutch working class and Javanese peasant households emerged. Accordingly, a more sophisticated framework is needed to explain how and why such connections were – both intentionally and unintentionally – severed over time.