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1. Managing the Urban Workforce

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Chapter Summary

Maintenance of 'tranquillity and order' (rust en order) was the cornerstone of Dutch colonial policy. By the end of the nineteenth century the land in Java could no longer support the growing population. Increasing numbers of villagers were forced to become wage labourers, eking out a living as seasonal workers in the foreign-owned plantations and sugar industry. In one generation the urban areas of Java were transformed from small towns into bustling cities. The colonial government saw the colony as three separate societies divided by race. The European community in the towns and cities often complained about the prevalence of crime, the public nuisance of prostitutes on the streets at night or the danger political 'agitators' posed to 'tranquillity and order'. Indonesian labour union leaders were fierce critics of the repressive laws added to the Criminal Code between 1923 and 1926.

Keywords: Criminal Code; Dutch colonial policy; European community; foreign-owned governments; Indonesian labour union leaders; Java; repressive laws; seasonal workers; urban areas; wage labourers



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