A Victor's History: A Comparative Analysis of the Labour Historiography of Indonesia's New Order

04 January 2017

Some observers have identified a common pattern in developing countries whereby unions are transformed from a political force valued for their contribution to the struggle for independence to a state-sponsored ‘tool of development’. A less well-explored question concerns the harnessing of labour historiography to justify such transitions. As this article shows, Suharto’s New Order (1966–98) undertook a conscious and purposeful rewriting of Indonesian labour history in support of a single vehicle of labour representation organized around a narrative of the dangers of political unionism and designed to control and harness the industrial workforce in the name of economic development.