Worker's Paradise?

A History of Labor in the Oil Towns of the Netherlands East Indies, 1890-1939

  • Norman Joshua Northwestern University


This article offers a preliminary survey on the working conditions of laborers in the petroleum industry in late-colonial Netherlands East Indies (1890-1939). Through an examination of the material conditions of work in the oil cities of Pangkalan Brandan, Balikpapan, and Palembang, this article argues that working conditions were substantially influenced by the idiosyncratic characteristics of the petroleum industry, consequently arguing against the current established literature on labor history in Indonesia. By emphasizing on these industrial characteristics and paying attention to fluctuations, this article offers a more nuanced perspective on the issue of colonial labor regimes. 


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How to Cite
JOSHUA, Norman. Worker's Paradise?. Jurnal Sejarah, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 2, p. 1-24, mar. 2018. ISSN 2581-2394. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 21 oct. 2020. doi: